Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Firesign Theatre

The Firesign Theatre - Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers (1970)

The Firesign Theatre was never really like the other comedy teams out there, in that they never really seemed too worried about telling actual jokes. and instead were more than happy to let the absurdest situations and incredibly complicated dialog of their materials draw the laughs out of you, both by playing with expectations and then making not so much a complete left turn with them as a full fledged dive into a Rubik's cube of confused metaphors and an oddly intellectual stream of consciousness absurdism. You had to pay attention to the comedy of the Firesign Theatre, because when they said, that "Everything You Know is Wrong", they probably were right.

The Firesign Theatre - Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, Phil Proctor & Dave Ossman

Starting out as on public radio in 1967, the Firesign Theatre, made up of David Ossman, Phil Austin, Phil Proctor and the late Peter Bergman worked to give their highly scripted, heavily referenced performances an improvisational feel, that bellied their highly structured nature, and because of this many people have tended to ignore the Firesign Theatre as a counter-culture "hippie" group.

And sure, they definitely were part of that era, but there is something more to it than simple "Head" humor coming from these guys.

With albums like Waiting for The Electrician, or Someone Like Him, Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers and I Think We're All Bozo's On This Bus the Firesign's played with literlism in a fast moving, pun filled frollic where you never quite knew what was going to happen next.

Probably the best known of the various characters created by Firesign Theatre, Nick Danger, Third Eye, has long mixed the detective genre with a twist of Borges by way of one too many acid trips. In the clip below quips fly in this truly funny piece.

 When I heard this morning that Peter Bergman had passed away, I thought that it was a good time to bring the team up and try to pass them on to a new generation. The Firsign Theatre was one of the best of the thinking man comedy groups, wacky, confusing and totally insane.

This final clip is after the brief commericia for Battleship and features the team starring in a actual, real life commericial for a used car lot circa 1971, that truly captures just how out of the ordinary and just plain bizzare these guys could be.


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