Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Firesign Theatre's Big Mystery Joke Book

1974, probably first edition, from Straight Arrow Books
Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman & Philip Proctor
The Firesign Theatre's Big Mystery Joke Book
Original price $5.95, purchase price unknown
Slightly worn paperback

While Firesign Theatre is occasionally hilarious-- "Porgy and Mudhead in High School Madness" is a classic-- I often feel like they're cracking in-jokes that I don't quite get.  This is even more apparent reading their scripts (which this mostly is, despite the title), with seemingly deliberately typos, than it is listening to their recordings.  And the best of the lot here is the one mentioned on the cover, "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye," partly because I've heard it as well as read it.  (On the album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?)  Even without the exaggerated voices and the dead-on radio sound effects, it's still funny, Beatles references and all.

Firesign Theatre was composed of Austin, Bergman, Ossman, and Proctor.  (Bergman died this past March, of leukemia.)  But within the world of this book, the group dates back to the Renaissance, with an elaborate and confusing genealogy, and plagiarism of and by Shakespeare.  So names like Benway and Acme/Acne go from script to script, and I'm not sure why.  A bigger fan of FT than I am would probably get a bigger kick out of this book, but I do find it interesting, and sometimes amusing.


  1. Are you giving your books away after rereading them ?

  2. Well, I'm recycling the ones that look like they won't stand up to another reading. And I'm setting aside the ones that look OK but I gave a C or below to, to either be sold or donated. Was there one you wanted?