Sunday, April 12, 2015

And This Blog Loves The Firesign Theatre

It's inevitable that this blog, currently on quite the radio comedy kick (Stan Freberg, Bob & Ray, Henry Morgan), would take a trip to the unique universe of the Firesign Theatre.

It is a short distance from The Goon Show and the intrepid and literate writing staff of Jay Ward Productions (Bill Scott, Lloyd Turner, George Atkins, Allan Burns, Chris Hayward and Chris Jenkyns) to the indescribable combo of Firesign Theatre: literature + pop culture parody + current events + satire + stunning wordplay + amazing voice work + character acting + one-liners + Psychedelic era references.

While Second City were the kings of the improv troupes in Chicago and Toronto, and Jonathan Winters was a troupe in himself, Firesign Theatre - Philip Proctor, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Phil Austin - took Southern California (yes, seriously bent even then) by storm, beginning as live radio performers on L.A. radio stations KPPC-FM and KPFK. Their delirious, extemporaneous, repartee-packed satire would spawn a series of concerts and recordings.

Their ranks in Los Angeles would soon be followed by The Credibility Gap (featuring Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, David L. Lander and Richard Beebe - notable for their classic A Date With Danger sketch) and, a few years later in the 1970's, such troupes as Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre.

As big fans of both film noir and the fiction of Raymond Chandler that inspired it, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog finds Firesign's gumshoe character Nick Danger irresistible.

There were also very memorable offshoot albums from Firesign Theatre members. Here are Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman at UCLA's Royce Hall on January 23, 1974. This gives a good of the pair's dynamism and linguistic prowess in person. The breathless performance includes bits from their album "TV or Not TV".

As the stalwart comedians and comediennes from SCTV often appeared on each other's subsequent projects, so did members of Firesign Theatre.

Firesign Theatre did make an appearance on Evening At The Improv in 1981 and we do enjoy the fact that the troupe is introduced by Avery Schreiber of Burns & Schreiber.

While Peter Bergman passed away in 2012, the other troupe members continue.

Check them out - still brilliant, still funny and still riffing - at Firesign Theatre Radio.

Just in case one does not have a 1975 issue vinyl copy of the Firesign Theatre albums handy, there is a YouTube channel under the appropriate title Firesign Theatre Complete Works which features all their records.

One can also buy a wide range of cool audio rarities, transcriptions and books directly from the Firesign Theatre website.

In closing, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog notes, Dear Readers, don't forget, under penalty of satire, we are all Bozos On This Bus.

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