Peter Bergman, co founder of the American comedy group, The Firesign Theatre, passed away on Thursday, March 8th from complications of Leukemia. Peter was one of four Fresigns, who were the driving force for all comedy troupes.
Phil Proctor, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Phil Austin, were the four or five crazy guys who made it all possible. Before their were a Committee, an Ace Trucking company, or a Saturday Night Live, there were the Theater of Firesign. In 1966, in Los Angeles California, in the studios of KPFK, Bergman would host a radio program called, “Radio Free Oz. He pulled the others together and comedy life as we know it, was changed forever.
The Boys brought us such joy with characters such as, Nick Danger the worlds only detective, they brought us into the future to meet the President, in “I Think Were all Bozo’s on this Bus”, and they taught us how to not be afraid of T.V. in “Don’t Crush that Dwarf.” Yes, we watched them laugh as they walked out, because in fact, The Firesign Theatre, loved the live aspect of the humor. Their fans, “Fireheads,” as they are known all over the world, would follow them everywhere.
The Firesign Theatre, were still touring when the bad news hit. This would be their forty sixth year together. They had 23 recordings, three Grammy Nominations, and many fans in and out of the industry. Give them a listen. Their recordings are not just another comedy record, but the hundredth listen will be as new as the first. The Firesign Theatre will bring you forward into the past, and like a roller coaster, it will amaze you.
Every Firehead has a personal story to share, these are mine. I sent out a tape recording which I produced . It was my early comedy. I sent out thirty tapes to many venues, and the rejection letters started to roll in. The one tape was actually sent back from the Firesign Theatre. This was around 1968 when I was only twelve years old. I received a hand written letter, from David Ossman, who directed me, guided me, and spoke about what I should do taking my form of humor to the next level. 44 years later, I am writing comedy and I owe it all to these boys.
I saw the boys in 1974, at the great Carnegie Hall in New York City. I actually got to talk with them back stage after and although the place was rushing with fans and friends alike, I was in my glory. I also got to see, two of the boys at “The Bottom Line, in New York, in 1978. My friends and I were sitting at a table right in front of the ar where Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman were having a drink. I introduced myself and again, the smile on my face said it all. Then at Loeb University in New York, I saw the boys again, this time I was a shill in the audience for Dr, Claudio Astro, the fortune teller. I have seen the Firesign Theatre again live at Town Hall in NYC. There was another back stage meeting, only this time I talked longer, and shook more hands. now years have passed and I speak to the boys through the wonder of email, I am a member of the Firesign Theatre Message Board, which meets and cultivates on Thursdays around nine PM. We chat, try to out pun each other and the more the merrier. We will be waiting for you. If I can’t, tell hem Caterino sent ya.