Philip Proctor - vocals; Peter Bergman - vocals
In 1966, the American comedy troupe, the Firesign Theatre, began as performers on Los Angeles radio stations KPPC and KPFK FM. The group was not unlike their British counterpart, Monty Python's Flying Circus—strongly influenced by the Goon Show, Peter Sellers, and Spike Milligan. Initially, the Firesigns' style of dramatic satire was relegated to the burgeoning underground FM radio scene, but eventually expanded to live stage productions, many popular album releases, movies, books, and one of the first interactive video productions ever produced. The Firesign Theater's stream of consciousness style had the feel of improvisational comedy, but most of it was actually tightly scripted and memorized. They soon became famous for the depth of interaction among their characters, their wide range of literary allusion and references to popular culture. Their ingenious use of puns, metaphor, and literary allusions all added to the totally original surreal quality of their performances.
By the mid-1970s, the Firesign Theatre was in disarray. Proctor and Bergman approached their label, Columbia Records, and made an individual deal to produce "TV or Not TV," a concept based on the embryonic state of cable TV. Long before the Saturday Night Live sketch, "Wayne's World," or any of the similar public access TV shows, Proctor And Bergman portrayed two guys who ran a pirate cable TV station out of their suitcase at home. This concept soon expanded into a full blown vaudeville-style stage show and one of the most inspired Firesign Theatre offshoot albums, T.V. Or Not T.V. By 1977, Proctor and Bergman had developed what would become the final full-length album from any of the Firesign Theatre members of the 1970s. That album, titled Give Me A Break was based on the concept of a satirical radio show called the Proctor And Bergman Report. Less complex than much of their previous work, this was a relatively straightforward comedy album containing two-man sketches that explored the absurdity of commercial radio.
This recording from the Bottom Line in 1978 features an expanded stage version of the Proctor and Bergman Report performed live before an intimate New York City audience. Even novices to the Firesign Theatre's brand of comedy should enjoy the characters created by Proctor and Bergman here, without getting lost or overwhelmed. Even the lesser-developed pieces have a definite satirical point and contain clever bits to amuse the listener. Highlights include Proctor's "Brainduster Memory School," in which he demonstrates the system he developed for keeping your memory as sharp as a tack (though his more resembles a sieve) and Bergman resurrecting his high-pitched "Artie Choke" voice from the classic Bozos album on an extremely absurd commercial for "Sneezer's Chicken." The set also includes an expanded and disgustingly funny commentary on the artificial substitutes contained in the most natural products, and Bergman blasting the various ethnic groups gathered together at "U. N. In Session."