Firesign Theatre presents...
PETER BERGMAN'S BIG BROUHAHA: A TRIBUTE BY THE FIRESIGN THEATRE
Kirkland Performace Center, Seattle WA April 21, 7:00PM
Peter Bergman, a founding member of the Firesign Theatre
comedy troupe, whose zany pun-loaded skits and absurdist
political satire entertained millions of college kids
during the 1960s and '70s, passed away March 9, 2012.
He was 72.
Born and raised in Cleveland, his parents Oscar and Rita
Bergman hosted "Breakfast With the Bergmans," a local
radio show. His father also worked as a reporter for the
Plain Dealer. Mr. Bergman got a taste of radio work when
he was in high school. He lost his job as an announcer on
the school radio system after his unauthorized announcement
that the Chinese Communists had taken over the school and
that a 'mandatory voluntary assembly was to take place
immediately.' (Russell Rupp, the school principal, promptly
relieved Peter of his announcing gig. Rupp was the
inspiration for the Principal Poop character on the
Firesign Theatre album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The
He attended Yale University in the early '60s, where he met
nd formed a lifelong association with Phil Proctor; Phil
performed in musical productions for which Peter was the
lyricist. After his Yale years, and a short stint in the
Army, Peter spent time traveling through Europe and the
Middle East, making a name for himself as a playwright and
After his return to the U.S. and a brief stay in New York
City, he landed in Los Angeles. It was there that Peter's
participation in a fund-raising marathon for Pacifica Radio's
KPFK affiliate led to his hosting Radio Free Oz, an all-
night radio call-in show which served as the testing ground
for the high-spirited Firesign sensibility. Phil Austin was
the show's producer; David Ossman was working at the station
in another capacity when he became involved with the show;
Phil Proctor, who had also relocated to Los Angeles seeking
work as an actor, was a frequent guest. In April 1967,
Bergman organized L.A.'s first "love-in." What he envisioned
as a picnic in Los Angeles' Elysian Park for a few hundred
fans turned into an event The Los Angeles Times described as
an "Easter Sunday freak-out" for 4,000. He is credited with
coining the term "love-in."
Performing as the Firesign Theatre, the four-man troupe
recorded their first album in 1967, Waiting For The
Electrician Or Someone Like Him, which was released in 1968.
With each album they produced through the early 1970s, their
uniquely surreal brand of humor combined with dense, multi-
layered plot lines and audio production struck a chord with
the late '60s counterculture. A staple of college dorms and
parties, their albums were made to be listened to multiple
times; new meanings and references could be gleaned from
every spin of their discs. When the Library of Congress
placed Don't Crush That Dwarf in its National Recording
Registry in 2005, they described Firesign Theater as "the
Beatles of comedy."
While the ensemble continued making albums for three decades,
Mr. Bergman also wrote and produced several one-man shows,
including Help Me Out of This Head, a 1986 monologue-memoir
that drew on his childhood in Cleveland. He also wrote
interactive games including PYST, a CD-ROM parody of the
popular adventure video game MYST.
In the mid 1990s, he brought back Radio Free Oz as a web
site of short, self-contained original comedy segments
featuring Peter and a company of voice talent that included
Phil Proctor, David Ossman, Edie McClurg and John Goodman.
Although the site folded after a few years, in 2010 Peter
again revived Radio Free Oz along with David Ossman. Initially
a series of live-streamed web broadcasts, it became a regular
daily and weekly podcast. He continued to write and produce
podcasts for radiofreeoz.com up until the time of his passing.
Join friends and fans of Peter and Firesign Theatre as they
pay tribute to his amazing life at the Kirkland Performance
Center, Seattle WA on April 21 at 7:00 pm.
This event is free and open to the public, though there is
a suggested donation of $10 to help cover expenses. No ticket
is required, and seating is available on a first come, first
You can also remember Peter on his memorial page:
Or the Firesign Facebook page:
Or Peter Bergman's Facebook page:
See you on side six...
-- Firesign Theatre