One less bozo on the bus

A fragment of the Firesign collection here at Ed Siegelman's Ground Zero Equal Opportunity Apartments, purchased from the fine folks at Giant Toad Supermarkets.

A fragment of the Firesign collection here at Ed Siegelman’s Ground Zero Equal Opportunity Apartments, purchased from the fine folks at Giant Toad Supermarkets.

Nick Danger is no longer at The Old Same Place. Phil Austin, who voiced that character and so many others for The Firesign Theatre, went west on Thursday. He was 74.

I stumbled across Firesign in high school, years before I ever heard of Monty Python, and snapped up almost every bit of work that they did, either as a group — a collective self-dubbed “Four or Five Crazee Guys” for the invisible fifth person that arose from their collaboration — or as fragments thereof.

The collection includes the widely known (“Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers,” “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,” “I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus”) and the less so (“Everything You Know Is Wrong,” “In the Next World You’re On Your Own,” and “The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra”). I got ’em all, on vinyl, CD and occasionally both.

Some friends and I had the good fortune to catch their act in Denver once, Back In the Day™. You can keep your Beatles, Stones, and Dead, thanks. I got my Firesign, and that’s better than a pile of groatcakes soaked in 30-weight with an entrenching tool within easy reach.

Fellow Firesign Peter Bergman beat Austin out the door in 2012. Or maybe he’s on the other side of the album! I’d better check. …

• Late update: Any Firesign fans out there packing iPhones? Tell Siri, “This is Worker speaking,” or ask her, “Why does the porridge-bird lay its eggs in the air?” I’d forgotten that Austin did some voiceover work for Apple commercials, and it seems that “Bozos” may have struck a chord with the Black Turtleneck Mob.

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15 Responses to “One less bozo on the bus”

  1. Brian Smith Says:

    I was introduced to Firesign by my wife while we were dating in college. To be, they were the American equivalent to Monty Python. I’ll have to break the news to her today, maybe we will fire up the old turntable for a memorial listen.

  2. Chris Says:

    Thankfully, we will always have Betty Jo Bialosky.

  3. Chris Says:

    Or is it Bialofsky? I never had the chance to check her ID.

  4. John Woiton Says:

    Sad indeed. I have fond memories of Firesign from my previous life. Sadly, their style of comedy seems to be lost on today’s Youth. My kids have no patience for it. Thanks for sharing. I guess Phill is upstairs helping Porcelain make the bed.

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Somehow, I missed it.

  6. Libby Says:

    It’s tough to lose a piece of personal history even if you know you can still listen to his work.

  7. DownhillBill Says:

    RIP, Phil.

    Shoes for industry, comrades!

  8. khal spencer Says:

    KUNM was playing some Firesign last night on the Doctor’s Psychedelic Radio Head~Shoppe. Did not catch the significance. Bummer, as another one of my role models heads West.

    Its tough listening to Firesign without proper chemical enhancement, but they are still great. Someday….

    Had to ride back from the Jemez on a two speed today, as my rear shifter locked up. I took it apart back at the ranch here and found a strand of the shifter cable had failed and wrapped itself around the shifter bits and jammed up the cable housing. Drat. I think I got it right on the replacement, but does anyone out there (Larry?) have a URL for routing a new rear shifter cable through the Chorus brake/shift gizmo? It seems intuitive, which is what worries me.

  9. David R Says:

    It’s frightening how much of an effect those boys had on my life.

  10. Dale Says:

    i don’t know about you, but I’m heading down to Ralph’s Spoilsport Motors to pick up a new ride.

  11. veloben Says:

    Sigh. Sad news. I was such a Firesign fan that my nickname in HS was ‘Tirebiter’.

    And thank you Patrick you have cause my first ever interaction with Siri.
    Shoes for industry!

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