The Firesign Theatre

The Firesign Theatre

Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death


Maybe it’s the generation gap. Maybe it’s simply been a long time. Or maybe the Firesign Theatre comedy troupe’s first recording in 20 years, Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death, simply isn’t funny.

I remember laughing at my dad’s collection of Bill Cosby and Tom Lehrer albums when I was kid, which is round about the time the Firesign Theatre first started its parodying ways. And I enjoy a good comedy album just like the next guy, going through childhood and young adulthood by laughing my ass off to albums by George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, and yes, even bits of Jerry Seinfeld’s recent debut CD. And I love Monty Python, to whom this group is often compared. Well, guess what, it just ain’t funny.

Firesign bills itself as RadioNow, “the station so up-to-the-minute that its format changes every commercial break” — an obvious nod to the further compression of popular culture. The broadcast is set on Dec. 31, 1999 (apocalypse alert!), complete with DJ Bebop struggling with constant format changes, sportscaster Chump Threads, and co-anchors Ray Hamberger and Harold Hiphugger struggling through a slow news day. I wish I could even give you examples of the Firesign’s humor so you can be the judge, but I’m afraid it’s you-had-to-NOT-be-there to appreciate it. What we have here is failure to communicate in any humorous way.

Not that their insight isn’t accurate, parodying stalkers, self-help, the treatment of the homeless, and cult of personality. Great. Now where’s the laughs?

If you want good radio parody, see if Harry Shearer’s Le Show is appearing on your local NPR station. This Firesign Theatre is going down in flames. Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025;

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

  • Javier Escovedo
    Javier Escovedo

    Kicked Out Of Eden (Saustex Media). Review by James Mann.

  • Eszter Balint
    Eszter Balint

    Airless Midnight (Red Herring). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Arthur Lee and Love
    Arthur Lee and Love

    Real to Reel (High Moon Records). Review by Al Pergande.

  • The Rentiers
    The Rentiers

    Here is a List of Things That Exist EP / Black Metal Yoga 7″ (Square of Opposition Records/Death to False Hope Records). Review by Jen Cray.

From the Archives