Today when I was trying to think of a topic to write (C’mon, there’s got to be SOMETHING!) I flashed on an old favorite – Firesign Theatre. This was a group of four hip young men who put together comedies either on the radio or for an album. Their humor was laced with references to the “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” focus of the time. Of course, at the same time you had such competitors as the “National Lampoon Radio Hour,” which as I recall was actually a half-hour program. National Lampoon’s program starred such as folks as Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Harold Ramis, who you probably remember from other performances. Look out Bob Hope and Henny Youngman – here comes the new comedy!
Firesign Theatre was known more for its identity as a group, although Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor have been successful in other areas as well. Firesign Theatre used a “stream of consciousness” style of humor, although their routines were liberally sprinkled with references to various and sundry oblique subjects – everything from early computer terms to references to the “Mad Subway Bomber” of the 1950′s. Their humor included bits on one side of the LP vinyl record that referred to what was going on on the other side.
As time went on, I grew up and my sense of humor changed. Hip references to drugs were okay when my generation was young, but not so when it could affect my kids. I’ve heard some later Firesign bits and they’re okay although the focus hasn’t gotten as mature (fogey-like) as I have. I suspect it’s mainly schtick; after all, that’s what entertainers do.
P.J. O’Rourke from the “National Lampoon” explained this phenomenon in an interview – “You grew up, but we didn’t.” For better or worse, I guess it’s true.
So, I let my mind wander, and this is what you get. Don’t blame me. Blame the influence of the sixties.