Posts Tagged ‘Peter Bergman’

Channel surfing

November 12, 2019

TV or not TV? In this case, it’s definitely TV.

Any of yis care to weigh in with a recommendation for a new TV that’s not insane?

I’m hunting one for the mom-in-law, who needs it for the new digs. Nothing huge, probably a 43-incher or under, and preferably a model with easily navigated menus and a remote that doesn’t look like the dashboard of the Millennium Falcon. Just your basic Ralph Spoilsport model, a personal remote-controlled, picture-sized color TV, with matching brass knobs, the kind where you reach above the bar and press the button right there under the handy laminated imitation-masonite Wild West gun rack with the look of real wood, for the channel of your choice.

We’re dealing with the elderly and feeble-minded here, which is to say me, a guy who hasn’t set up a new TV in the better part of quite some time.

Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites — the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johann Amadeus Matetsky.

One less bozo on the bus

June 21, 2015
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.

R.I.P., Peter Bergman

March 9, 2012
Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers

"Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers" — in the original vinyl.

Sad news: Peter Bergman of The Firesign Theatre died today of leukemia.

The Firesigns weren’t for everyone, but they sure worked for me. I was a devout acolyte of their intelligent, absurd comedy years before I ever heard of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“Waiting for the Electrician Or Someone Like Him,” “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All,” “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers,” “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus,” “The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra,” “Everything You Know Is Wrong” — I have all of them and more, in vinyl and/or CD.

Some of my oldest friends originally coalesced around an impromptu recital of “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye” in a Greeley living room one night in the early 1970s. A bunch of us saw the Firesigns perform in Denver some years later, and as quickly as they delivered a line the audience fired it back at them. I don’t know whether that would be gratifying or exasperating.

The Firesigns — Bergman, Philip Proctor, Philip Austin and David Ossman — had their roots in Bergman’s Radio Free Oz, a nightly radio show on Pacifica’s KPFK. It seems safe to say that without Bergman, there would have been no Firesign Theatre — no Bozos, no Nick Danger, no Porgie Tirebiter, and a damn’ sight less laughter in the world, a commodity that is always in short supply.

• Late update: an extended obituary from The Los Angeles Times and another from The New York Times.