RIP Peter Bergman

I note the passing of Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre. His comedy was instrumental in defining mine, and if you’ve never sampled the Firesign’s wares, I suggest you do so now. These are the classics:

I met Peter once or twice, and prevailed upon him to write the foreword to THE COMIC TOOLBOX, which is still in print, both the book and the original foreword, so Peter Bergman lives on between my covers, which pleases me.

Back in the day (high school and college) knowledge of the Firesign Theatre was a reliable litmus test of cool. If you said, “He walks into a great sandstone building,” and someone replied, “Ouch, my nose,” you knew you’d just met another Firehead, someone who thought like you thought, and found the same things funny. Some of my most cherished friendships began with the chance cross-quoting of some words of wisdom from Nick Danger or Porgy Tirebiter.

Here’s the foreword Peter wrote for The Toolbox:

to The Comic Toolbox

Are you one of those sorry folk
Who cannot write a decent joke,
Who cannot pen a funny scene
Because you lack the comic gene?
Are you convinced that you alone
Are cursed to walk this earth without a funny bone?
Take heart, dear friend, for now a book is writ
To guide you on your quest
To wrest from deep within, your native wit.
Voilà! The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus
To save you from the jester’s poorhouse.
It lays you certain basic rules
That aid the craft of serious fools.
You’ll learn to slay that dreaded djin
The Editor who lives within.
And once sprung from that self-constructed jail,
You’ll then be free to risk, and free to fail.
Free to find the premise, choose the word
That separates the master from the nerd.
So if you wish to tune your comic craft
And join the ranks of the professionally daft,
Then take this book of humor-honing tools
And join the ranks of jesters, clowns and fools
Who rise each day and, taking out their pen,
Bring joy and laughter to their fellow me.

RIP Peter Bergman. “I think we’re all bozos on this bus.”

More later, -jv