Cowell Theater - San Francisco - 9/26/97
Imagine starting out the week having no idea that one of the 4 or 5 crazee guyz is going to spend a couple of hours in your presence performing a one-man show entitled "1000 Ways to Survive the Millennium" (which is becoming so popular that it might be brought back every ten years - five if you count the Winter Millennium). Then imagine that by the end of that week you find yourself in the third row laughing your ass off at Peter Bergman. NOW you know EXACTLY how it feels to be in my shoes. (So take them off right now, before you give me your athlete's feet!)

In the lobby of the Cowell Theatre, a computer was set up for playing "PYST" with a preview section for the upcoming release of Bergman's new game, "Driven". Inside the auditorium, Mr. Bergman told an enticing tale of his re-invention from comedian to "digital storyteller". As the last person born before the Boom, therefore the youngest member of his generation, he explained that it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to communicate his piercing wit to the pierced. After all, while not copping to be a full-blown nerd, Bergman did admit to having "nerd rising".

Peter Bergman confronted the Year 2000 (Y2K in nerd speak) problem by suggesting that Bill Gates ("Holden Caulfield without the interesting problems") will buy the Millennium and offer it back as Year 1999 Upgrade, available in the Spring of 2003! He wondered out loud what would happen if the computer's logic became reality - if we actually went from 1999 to the year 1900. For example, he envisioned a 106 year old woman being sent back to kindergarten. As a veteran of the gender wars, Bergman speculated what error messages would look like if they'd been written by women - "Honey, I think we have a problem; don't worry, just use your words."

He covered the 'Net, mentioning the three most interesting sites; the Milkem Boskey money page, the Amish shopping channel (all clothing offered in various shades of black) and ( where animals chat about dressing up like people and committing various acts of "humanality". Over the course of his presentation, Bergman covered a lot of cyberspace without resorting to much Firesign Theatre material. (One notable exception was a bit where Ralph Spoilsport pitched a car that we could drive across President Bill's bridge to the 21st Century.) There were songs; a hilarious digital rap and a new Newt tune; and too many jokes to include here. (I regret not being able to tape the entire evening! Luckily, I took copious notes.)

My favorite reference was to the annoying on-hold messages we all have to deal with daily - "Your call is very important to us." As Peter said, after listening to that about 80 times, you start to doubt the sincerity of it.

Mr. Bergman stuck around to answer audience questions and to bring us the great news that new Firesign Theatre material is on the pipeline and enticed us with the possibility of deluxe, annotated versions of prime Firesign scripts appearing on the internet someday. He filled out the evening with some amusing anecdotes (like the time he "interviewed" Andy Warhol on Radio Free Oz). He left us with a lasting image from the 60's of the guyz hangin' out stoned in a bomb shelter listening to the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers with Chad & Jeremy! Extra groovy-easy on the 30-weight, Mom! All in all, a wonderful evening.

About a hundred or so of us enjoyed the public debut of this piece and one of the few to be performed before a civilian audience. For the most part, Bergman will offer this work to corporate groups. So, find out which corporations he will appear at, go to college for your business degree, send them your resume, get a haircut for the job interview, clean out your system for the pee test.