Firesign Theatre at SOU

Peter Bergman, David Ossman, Phil Proctor and Phil Astin are having more fun than ever as the original members of the surrealistic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre.

"We can't wait to bring our show to Ashland," Bergman says.

Firesign Theatre will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, June 25, in the Center Stage Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Ave., Ashland.

"During the second act, we'll present 'Anythynge You Want To.' It's a Shakespeare parody that we began writing in the '70s."

"Anythynge You Want To: Shakespeare's Lost Comedie" is a hilarious roast of Shakespeare's language, plot structure and characters. It was originally recorded in 1980 as a program for National Public Radio, and was released as an album in 1982. A fuller version of the content also was released in 2001.

"We've been working on it," Bergman says. "It's written in Iambic pentameter, and its the real thing. We hope some members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival come out to the show. How could we possibly have more fun?"

Bergman founded the Firesign Theatre in 1966 on his FM radio show, Radio Free OZ, in Los Angeles. Bergman's writing partners and voice artists became known as the Firesign Theatre because each one had been born under an astrological fire sign.

During the late '60s, Firesign became "the favorite comics of the rock age," according to Life magazine.

The troupe has collaborated on more than 20 "movies for the mind," introducing listeners to off-the-wall sketches featuring detective Nick Danger: Third Eye (when two aren't enough), Porgie and Mudhead and others.

"The first act will feature 'Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,'" says Bergman. "It is the title cut of our first album." It was released in 1968 by Columbia Records.

"Waiting for the Electrician" is a Kafkaesque fantasy about a man trying to cross into a strange security state, Bergman says. "It will be mixed with the story of a Porgie, who is trying to get out of More Science High from our 'Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers' album. It has to do with the young generation fighting against the old school. His dad, the high school principal, the U.S. Army and Hollywood all want a piece of him."

The second half of the performance at the Center Stage Theatre will feature Nick Danger, a character who was introduced on Firesign Theatre's 1969 album, "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All."

"Danger is one of our most famous characters, and we have a tremendous amount of fun with that one," Bergman says.

Also on the bill are Ben Bland's Movie Matinee, School Lunch Menus, Ralph Spoilsport and All-Star Crowley.

Firesign Theatre's best-selling albums are the four the troupe recorded between 1968 and 1972: "Don't Crush That Dwarf," "Electrician," "How Can You Be in Two Places" and "I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus."

"My favorite is 'Dwarf,' and I like all of the material that we're putting out now," Bergman says.

In April, Bergman revived the Fireside Theatre show. It streams every day at and is available for podcast.

Fireside Theatre began touring again in early 2009. Its members work with no props or costumes and use an unlimited range of character voices to renew their classic scripts. No two shows are the same.

"This last leg of our tour has taken us to Portland, Eugene, Redding and now Ashland," Bergman says. "We've gotten good audience numbers. The Northwest has always been a good area for us. It's just a smart part of the country, and Firesign Theatre is smart comedy. You've got to have brains to like us."

Tickets cost $35 and are available at, at the Music Coop in Ashland or at the door.

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