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 1.1)  1998 Press Release

This is an excerpt from the 1998 Press release: 

        First off, it's not a theatre at all-- at least it doesn't have four walls -- but the fiery foursome that created it: Phil Austin (Aries), Phil Proctor (Leo), and Peter Bergman and David Ossman (Saggittarians), have managed to make theatre wherever they go and over the years they have sold between over four million albums. Indeed, this year, they were chosen among the"Fifty Greatest Acts of All Time"  by Entertainment Magazine. 

        Firesign first became widely known in 1966 at L.A.'s listener-supported KPFK (where Austin and Ossman were on staff), and when Proctor came West with the musical The Amorous Flea they started performing together on Peter "The Wiz" Bergman's Radio Free Oz, rapidly evolving from doing put-ons and live original half-hour comic plays before ecstatic crowds into the multi-media production and performance entitity we know today. 

         For the next three decades, The Firesign Theatre has enjoyed wide popular success, producing twenty-two best-selling records including the Grammy-nominated Three Faces of Al, seven nationally syndicated radio series, many local shows, musicals, and national tours, and the short films: Everything You Know Is Wrong, Eat or Be Eaten, Nick Danger in the Case of the Missing Yolks, and The Madhouse of Dr. Fear (with Don Adams) and Hot Shorts --which by re-editing, re-scoring and re-dubbing, brought new life to old horror films and classic Republic Studio cliffhangers. 
Click Here for the FULL Press release 


Phil Proctor adds the following regarding their comedic influences: 

Mr NOISE asked about influences on us -- Well,they would be -- including but not limited,too, Bob & Ray (who's CLASSIC B&R volume 4 actually include selections i gave to Larry Josephson from my private NYC collection), Stan the man Freberg, Ernie Kovacs,Steve Allen,Olsen & Johnson, old radio, new radio, anything on television, Spike Jones, Ish Kabibble, the Amish, Laurel&Hardy, silent comedies,cartoons,Blooper records, The Great Crepitation Contest,Johnathan and Darlene Edwards, the Goons and any english comedians living or still living,the writings of Ogden Nash and Robert Benchley, folk comedians Herb Shriner and George Goeble (sp), Charlie Weaver and uncle dave, the Marxist Bros, Harold Lloyd, anybody who ever made a comedy album -- my god, the list could go on forever. After all, if you're into comedy, you can never get enough of it! 


None of this begins to do them any justice: we encourage you to buy one of their CDs (or old phonos) and hear for yourself. This is in fact, about the only way to really understand what the Firesign Theatre was and IS about!  We're not insane! 

1.2) The Four or Five Crazy Guys

Just Some of their Aliases, roles 
Philip Austin    -- Nick Danger, Hemlock Stones, etc, 
Philip Proctor   -- Clem, Ralph Spoilsport, the Poop, etc 
David Ossman     -- Porgie, Catherwood, etc 
Peter Bergman    -- Babe, Mudhead, Nancy...  We should also acknowledge the oft-ignored but ubiquitous female members: 
Annalee Austin -- Operator in "Don't crush that Dwarf" 
Tiny Ossman -- Announcerettes in "Bozos" 
Laura Quinn -- Hawkmoth in "Eat or Be Eaten" 

Others appearing in FST productions include: 
Diane Davisson, Rodger Bumpass, Jerry Houser, Christie Houser, 
Susan Tanner, Cyrus Faryar, and casts of thousands. 

1.3) The Firesign Bio


The link here is to the Firesign Bio page.  This provides information on what the 4 or 5 were doing UP TO the creation of the Firsign Theatre. 
Click here for the Firesign Bio Page.

A series of quotes from the BIG BOOK OF PLAYS book: 
This section helps define what the 4 or 5 were trying to do 
with the Firesign Theatre 

Philip Austin: 
 "The Firesign Theatre is a *Technique*. 
 "These were the people who faced me across the microphones on the radio and this is what I think of them: 

 "David Ossman is the first I met. The two of us are not what you'd think of right off as comedians. I was producing all these plays by dead authors -- acting, directing; got David to act, looked at the amazing books of poetry that he'd produced -- as if he had hand-printed  every page. We had wonderful conversations about the Indians. Hopi. 

"Peter Bergman was the Voice that Wouldn't Die. What a talker! The Champ. I engineered _Radio Free Oz_ and appeared in a variety of stoned disguises. (This was fun. Not like acting, which is not real to me, therefore not fun.) Unlike most performers, Peter becomes *more* candid when he performs. Set him in front of a microphone and you have an angel. With most people, it's the opposite. 

"Philip Proctor *is* an actor. He is also not exactly a comedian. He is  not so much trying to make you laugh as he is trying to explain  something to you. I have always been his friend because I admire that  so much. He can go places I can't. He was a friend of Peter's who was  "funny". God, ain't dat de trufe! "So there we were, *four friends*. You see, we had no ambitions. It was  a pure jam and the instrument we each played was verbal glibness or  *radio*. We still continue that first conversation. This book, those  recordings, are records of that conversation, a minute-book of the  meeting. 
"Quickly, Ambition walked in the door. I thought we were good. I'd  heard some pretty fast, funny cats in my time, but these three were as  good as Spike Milligan. We started hanging out with each other, gave up  our jobs, found more and more ways to earn livings using each other. I  got my Globe Theatre, Phil P. got a Movie Company, David got a Great  Work of Literature and Peter got the Forever Radio Show. 


"Yes, we take it seriously. Read [in the Big Book of Plays] Hideo Gump Sr.'s intro to each script. Laughter and Dancing, Singing and  Love. We love the Firesign Theatre. How do you get along with people? What do you have to show for it? Our work is, to me, my answer to those questions. 

"What does it mean? 

   "1. The Firesign Theatre writes communally. Every word goes through four heads for approval. We therefore write very slowly. Our energy  level is intense. Grown men leave the room when we fight with each  other. Nothing is sacred. 

   "2. Therefore, there are considerable areas of chance (*chance*) in  our work since no overall motive is possible. All communal endeavors  learn one thing, I think. *Only real things can be agreed upon*. The  future is not real, therefore *motives* cannot be agreed upon. *Chance  becomes the motive*. 
   "What do we mean? We mean whatever's happening. ?Que paso, hombre? 

   *Our records are records of what happened to us during the period we made them. 

   *Our records are a continuous story that will last as long as our friendship. 

   *May we be friends forever. 

     --Phil Austin (Signature) 

Peter Bergman:  

  "My honest idea of The Firesign Theatre is four artists getting  together and grouping to create some new art form, some multi-art that  comes our of all four of their minds. It's an interesting choice, and  that's one of the things that fascinates me. It's not a loss of  identity, really. It's more a gaining of a double identity. I'm Peter  Bergman and I'm one-quarter of The Firesign Theatre. And when I have  those two things together, in harmony, one feeds off the other. 
    --Peter Bergman (A very Floral Signature) 


1.4) A Forward Into the Past History

Another excerpt from the "Big Book of Plays":  Mark Time's True Chronology of The Firesign Theatre 

~ 1966 ~  

July 24 -- The first broadcast of Radio Free Oz over KPFK-FM (*)  (Peter and various collaborators are on the air five nights a week  until March). 

November 17 -- The Firesign Theatre's first performance, "The Oz  Film Festival," a three-hour improvisation on Radio Free Oz. 

December -- Peter, David, and Phil and Annalee Austin attend the  Soyal Ceremony in Hopiland. (Phil P. is On Tour in Florida). 

~ 1967 ~  

March -- The first broadcast of a four-hour radio documentary on the  American Indian, written and produced by Peter, David, and Phil A.,   followed by a weekend Colloquium, followed by the first Love-In,  organized by Radio Free Oz, which moved to KRLA (AM) the same  day (March 26). 

April-May -- After Phil Proctor's return from the East, The Firesign  Theatre writes and records Waiting For The Electrician or Someone  Like Him. 

April 29 -- The Firesign Theatre performs their Bulgarian play called "Waiting for the Electrician" at a UCLA Experimental Arts Festival. 

June-July -- David and Phil P. conduct Oz during Peter's return trip to Turkey. 

September 14 -- Peter and David begin broadcasting Oz for three hours  every Sunday night from a Studio city club called The Magic Mushroom. 

October 29 -- Bridey Murphy Eve on Oz begins a series of weekly radio  plays written and performed live by the FST at the Mushroom. Among the scripts are "Exorcism in Your Daily Life," "The Last Tunnel To Fresno," "20 Years Behind The Whale," "The Giant Rat of Sumatra," "The Sword and the Stoned," "Sesame Mucho," "The Armenian's Paw," and "Tile it Like It Is." 

December 9 -- The Firesign Theatre performs its first stage piece, "Freak For A Week," for a KPFK benefit at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. 

~ 1968 ~  

*(All locations in Los Angeles, unless otherwise mentioned) 

Lynn Gustafson writes: 

In the mid-sixties the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in So.Cal. was a fund raiser for KPFK. They did live broadcasts from the fairesite. The Flying Karamazov Brothers were also working at the faire at that time. 

When the Living History Centre was first incorporated, their motto was "Forward Into the Past." LHC and RPF are still around, in our 31st year. Some of the guys still show up occasionally. 


1.5) The FST newsgroups and fan clubs


The original FST fan club was started in June, 1972 and was titled 'FIREMAIL / THE MINDLESS FELLOWSHIP - and was started up in Lincoln, Nebraska. There are two newsgroups:, and alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre. The first group causes some news servers problems due to its name having >14 chars. Most people seem to be gravitating towards the "comedy" group these days. 

You can also get to the newsgroup through ( using alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre in the input text box. 

For the rest of this document, "alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre" will assume to refer to both of these groups. 

As near as anyone can figure, alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre is composed of a bunch of the old guard, sitting around and exchanging FST lines with each other ("What about my pickle?" "You're lucky you still have your brown paper bag, small-change!"), together with neophytes who might have just run across the newsgroup, discussions about where the FST members are now, reunion announcements, the deep philosophical and metaphysical implications of Bozos, and other such  musings. 

The Newsgroup is also the best place to go for the latest anouncments concerning the Firesign Theatre's activities, and those of all of the Firesign Websites. 


1.6) FST Chat Groups

There are now two Firesign Chat Groups: 

  • The Dalnet IRC Chat Group:
    About which Doc Tech sez: There is a #firesign channel available on the DALnet IRC network.  IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, is a network of computers set up to allow people to conduct the equivalent of CB radio sessions from their computer typewriter keyboards. 
    There is a tradition of holding an IRC "meeting" of fireheads on the DALnet #firesign channel every Thursday night at 9pm eastern time.  Generally, a meeting announcement is posted to the alt.comedy.firesgn-thtre newsgroup earlier in the day. 
    To access the DALnet IRC network, you'll need to install IRC client software on your computer.  You'll also need to become familiar with the commands for navigating your IRC session once you've lgged on to their network. 
    DALnet has its own own web site ( with lots of useful information about how IRC works, the DALnet network, and links to IRC client software you can download and install on your computer.  If you are running Win3.1 or Win95, the "mIRC" client software (pronounced "emm-eye-are-see" and not "mirc as in smirk," if you know what's good for you) comes highly recommended.  For the Mac, "IRCle" is recommended.  Regardless of your computer platform, their is a way to get to DALnet IRC and join in the Thursday evening fun.  Please feel free to join in - the more the merrier! 

The House of Firesign Chat Group 

1.7) FST Web pages

 There are now Many FST web pages!  To keep current, You can 
Jump to the Links Page Here

Most of the FST sites have links, so, jump around and see what you can find. 
Theres also a new 
Firesign Theatre Webring 
that links all the FST pages together for a Surreal Firesign-esk tour of the Web. 

1.8) Firemail, FAlaFal & FIREZINE

Firemail & Chromium Switch:
The original Firesign Theatre "fanzine" was Chromium Switch, which began as 'Firemail' in August 1972. The final issue of Chromium Switch was published in the summer of 1975. The liner notes to "Giant Rat of Sumatra" made reference to the fanzine.

Thomas "Tom" Gedwillo founded FIREMAIL then CHROMIUM SWITCH. He has a mailing list at eGroups/ONElist:

FAlaFal (Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal):
Elayne Wechsler-Chaput  produced a tri-annual newsletter called "Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal" (or FAlaFal for short- (but not for long!)), published in the "Firesign" months of April, August and December. 
Doc Technical adds: 
Elayne published FAlaFal from August 1984 through December of 1989 (Issues 1 through 19).  Michael Packer (with Jim Middleton) put out two ad-hoc FAlaFals between 1990 and 1993, which they included in issues of their "SPARKS!" magazine (I've never seen these).  Elayne then returned to the scene and published issues 20 through 30 from the summer of 1993 through September 1996. 

HasNoName has issues 23 to 30 of the FAlaFal at his FST web site the Terminal Bus (very well done). 

Fred Wiebel carries on the torch with FIREZINE the Official, Official Magazine of the Firesign Theatre. It's the most comprehensive FST Fanzine ever. Fred also has MANY cool items for sale. 


Benway of Hollywood