Interview with Phil Proctor 11/13/1995

Our Phil

Interviewer: TJ
Engineer: David Camden-Britton
TJ and DC-B in Production Rm. A at KUOI-FM in Moscow, Idaho
Phil Proctor live via phone from his house in Beverly Hills, CA


4:30 pm MDT

PHIL'S ANSWERING MACHINE: Hello dear friends, you've reached Proctor House, and it's garbage day here on our street.... you know what they say: "Garbage Out, Garbage In." Deposit yours now. BEEEP

....

5:00 pm MDT

PHIL: Yes, you're talking to Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theatre -- [Rocky Rococo voice] -- or maybe Rocky Rococo, you stupid fool! Hee hee hee hee hee!!! [normal voice] Shut up... he's still rooming with me here. The freeloader's been here for twenty-five years.

ME: I'm sorry to hear that.

PHIL: YOU'RE sorry?!

ME: I mean he was a good character, but you KNOW...!

PHIL: Yeah -- good characters can wear on you after a little while.

ME: I guess.

PHIL: Sure. They wear out their welcome, as it were.

ME: Phil Proctor -- tell me about your day, tell me something that you did today that is indicative of what you are doing now, these days.

PHIL: Well, the day started off with a meeting with Peter Bergman, to review what we hope will be the "green light" version of a new interactive CD-ROM game that we're being funded to produce by a wonderful company up north called Lorichel, and if all goes according to plan, this game will be available to the glorious public Christmastime, like a year from this Christmas.

ME: Is it written?

PHIL: It is written, and it's very amusing. Unfortunately, as things go with this kind of a game, I can't tell you anything about it, other than to say that it is a comedic take on some of the more popular adventure-style games that have been out on the market for the last year or two. And what we've attempted to do, and I think we've succeeded pretty well, is to enter into the world of these games from a parody point of view, and to add a certain element of kind of rude, edgy, modern comedy to it, so that it'll be fun for a player to -- it'll be a challenge, but it'll also be fun for a player to revisit certain kinds of games that he's played before, with a twist that he's never experienced.

ME: I know that the three of you as the Firesign Theatre did an album called EAT OR BE EATEN in 1985 where the form of the record was a game...

PHIL: Oh, yes, that's true -- well, in point of fact, EAT OR BE EATEN was originally designed as a prototype for the interactive game systems which now are known as CD-ROM interactives, or CD-I's. And we did it for a wonderful man who's kind of the Ray Bradbury of the business, Stan Cornyn, who was a great seer -- who was basically predicting this form of entertainment before it even existed. And he got Philips involved, and through our prototype was able to convince them that this kind of game would be fun to play; and then they created the prototype machines, known now as Philips CD-I's.

ME: You started the whole thing!

PHIL: Uh huh! And they built the prototype based on some of our experimental pseudo-game-playing. And then EAT OR BE EATEN became, instead of an actual game -- because of course the technology didn't exist to make it -- we made it into a record, based on the interactive prototype that we had done which was a CD record, where if you pushed a certain number, after having figured out a certain number, would take you to the right track, and you could progress through the game.

ME: Is there any of that that's going to be back in the CD-ROM? Or do you have plans for rereleasing that?

PHIL: I don't think so, because the rights to that game rested with Philips, and nobody has opted to pick it up and use it as a game. Now the rights may revert to us at some point, and we could redesign it, but, you know, in terms of what game play is like today, we would definitely have to overlay it with more complicated approaches. Know what I mean? Because it's become far more sophisticated than we were able to prognosticate, or to project, at that time.

ME: And in the actual form it was in the record, too, there might be -- I don't know, there were references to "Hill Street Blues" -- some of that might not go over so well...

PHIL: Oh yeah. It's hard to make anything that's evergreen, these days.

ME: Yes... well, no. I mean, we are seeing the wonderful success of the rerelease of your original Firesign Theatre albums!

PHIL: Oh, well, that's true -- but remember, a lot of those albums were designed specifically to last forever. We really did try -- by projecting them into the future, we were dealing with future prognostications and a future world, and ironically of course a lot of these things have come true over the last quarter century! So the records are still as pertinent as ever. Another piece which we initially were doing, a video that we were going to do as an interactive piece, was Nick Danger and The Case of the Missing Yolks, for Michael Nesmith's company; and that's going to be rereleased through LodesTone, in Bloomington Indiana -- there's a division called More Sugar that is exclusively distributing our materials, and I believe if you want to get in touch with them their number is 1-800-411-MIND. They'll send you out a catalog of the stuff that's available... [Note: the video is indeed available -- email lodeston @bluemarble.net and they'll send you a full catalog.] Anyway, so that piece was going to be done as an interactive piece, and again it was very early in the production of these kinds of projects, and the Japanese company that was involved decided they didn't want to do it, and so we had to rewrite it as a non-interactive piece. I'm tellin' ya, what a story... And, of course, now that interactivity is happening all over the place, Peter and I are more involved in working on it. And Firesign still has hopes that one of these days we may be able to adapt one of our more interesting contemporary pieces to the CD-ROM arena.

ME: All right. I hope so too. Can I ask you about the Firesign Theatre CD rereleases?

Dwarfs Don't Sell Short

PHIL: Yeah... most of them were remastered by Mobile Fidelity up in Sebastopol -- or SeBAStopol, excuse me, [Russian accent] I'm speakink Russian because yare in Moscow! What can I say? Anyway -- SebasTOPol -- SeBAStopol -- whatever it is, up in Northern Californ-yah. And they took, I think, HOW CAN YOU BE, DWARF, DEAR FRIENDS, um -- gee, I'll have to go look at them to see what they did. But anyway, they got the license from Sony to remaster these pieces as really terrific CDs. And then Sony took over the license, and they are now redistributing them under their own label.

ME: The Mobile Fidelity CDs had excellent liner notes, by the way.

PHIL: Yes, they did; they were very very caring and careful to get all of our input so that we could give our own contemporary slant on what was in the albums and how we created them and all that, and it's very very exciting. What they're doing over in Bloomington, Indiana, at More Sugar, is releasing some pieces like Rhino Records did; ANYTHYNGE YOU WANT TO, for instance, is available on tape -- that's our Shakespearean parody. And another piece, EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG, on video, is also available. So we've got ANYTHING and EVERYTHING of the Firesign Theatre available through More Sugar, in Bloomington. And then Sony has taken it upon themselves to keep our biggest-selling albums in rerelease, which is very exciting.

ME: What's coming up next for CD rerelease?

PHIL: The next one I think is going to be DON'T CRUSH THAT DWARF, HAND ME THE PLIERS.

ME: This will make a lot of people happy... because I know this was one of the Mobile Fidelity CDs that's no longer available.

PHIL: That's right. And it's really super; you can hear all kinds of interesting things in the background that we'd forgotten we'd put in. And that's kind of fun. But we haven't gotten the confirmation on that yet, so as soon as we do you'll be the last to know.

ME: All right! Was there ever any talk about a boxed set? Because I know that a lot of Firesign fans refer to the first four albums as "the canon."

PHIL: In a way, it's true, because we did write them with that kind of continuity in mind -- if you listen carefully, the end of each record in an odd way segues into the beginning of the following record.... There has been talk about it, and I think that that's probably still a little bit down the line. What Sony did, of course, was release a compilation double-CD album, which I highly recommend to anybody who wants to turn people on to the Firesign Theatre, and that's called -- uh -- DEAR -- no, that's called BACK FROM THE SHADOWS? Is that what it's called? No, BACK FROM THE SHADOWS was our live album...

ME: SHOES FOR INDUSTRY.

PHIL: SHOES FOR INDUSTRY. We have too many catch phrases!! It gets terribly confusing.

ME: They're all there, they're just sitting there...

PHIL: They're all sitting there, yeah... SHOES FOR INDUSTRY is the double compilation album, which has all of "Nick Danger, Third Eye" on it, for instance, and BACK FROM THE SHADOWS is our live performance double CD from when we toured, our 25th anniversary tour. And that has some contemporary references cleverly sneaked in to the real material.

ME: If I could ask you about your TV voiceover work for animation...

PHIL: Oh sure... Ironically, on National Public Radio just last night there was a feature piece on looping and dubbing and adding voices in movies, in what we call group ADR, or group Automated Dialogue Replacement; and it featured me and several other people that I work with, in a half-hour presentation on Daniel Swerdling's Weekend Edition. So that was kind of fun. What he didn't say in there was exactly what you're asking me: some of the other things that I do in voiceover work. And one of the most fun, of course, is cartoon work. I started -- I cut my cartoon teeth, if you will -- playing in THE SMURFS for Hanna-Barbera. They created a character for me named King Gerard, who is kind of a boy king, and I had my faithful clockwork Smurf by my side, and I managed to right the wrongs of many a great villain, and keep the Smurfs blue and happy. And then from there, I went into doing lots and lots of little guest appearances on all of the other popular cartoons -- THE NEW JETSONS, and SCOOBY DOO, oh, just everything -- RICHIE RICH, it goes on and on -- but in recent years I was honored to portray the role of Howard, the father of the twins, among other numerous roles, in THE RUGRATS series which is still getting a lot of really great airplay and I think is a very humorous and intelligent cartoon as well as being, you know, for the kiddies. And then several characters in TAZ-MANIA, [Australian accent] including Mr. Koala, the Australian koala bear, and the King of the Bushrats, who speaks in a speeded-up pseudo-German. A challenging role indeed. Plus lots of other strange roles like Australian Army ants and things like that, you know. And recently I've been turning my tonsorial talents towards the cartoon series WHERE ON EARTH IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? which is syndicated on the FOX network, and is shown on Saturday mornings; and it's a fun opportunity because I get both to translate and to portray characters in different foreign languages -- that's another talent that I have: being a polyglot, if you will. So I get to be a Russian policeman and a French peasant and a Latin gladiator and a Portuguese thief, and it's just really fun.

ME: Tell me about THE TICK... I heard there was an episode with the entire Firesign Theatre.

PHIL: Yes! I had been working on THE TICK and one of the producers turned out to be a big Firesign Fan and brought a bunch of records in for me to autograph. And I said: "Look -- why don't you bring in some of the other guys, and they can work on the show, and then you can get ALL our autographs!" And by God, he did! He did a particular show -- we're not identified as the Firesign Theatre as such, but all four of us worked on the project, and it should be on the air this month. In fact I really should give them a call and find out when. But if you're a regular fan of THE TICK -- and who amongst us is not! It's a wonderful funny parody show -- it'll be a show about a trained porpoise who goes bad and masterminds a series of nefarious crimes. And we play various henchmen in his gang. And it'll be up to you guys to figure out who is who.

A Fish Magnet?... Ridiculous!

ME: Well, I have just one vital, searching question -- now this is coming from the perspective of a barely-into-his-twenties post-college-student --

PHIL: Bear Whiz what? Bear Whiz Beer, did you say?

ME: Yes... I basically discovered lots of comedy groups during the eighties, and then in the nineties I discovered the Firesign Theatre...

PHIL: So you're a latecomer to the avant-garde!

ME: Definitely. My question would be -- for someone who didn't basically rediscover comedy in the eighties and nineties, the eighties really were kind of thin for comedy on records. And I'm wondering -- I mean, between the four of you, you had twenty-three albums out between '68 and '85...

PHIL: Yes, and along that line -- for any of you who are record collectors or who would like to be, in the latest issue of DISCOVERIES, which is a wonderful newspaper-style magazine for record and CD collectors, in issue 90, the November issue, there's an article about Brian Wilson -- on the cover is Brian Wilson and the Firesign Theatre, and there is a definitive article, really a wonderful history, with interviews with us and a complete discography that shows everything that we've ever done, and of course pictures of the rare collector's items and everything. So, again, I'll answer your question to the best of my ability, but if you really want the real dirt, go out to your local obscure, rare record store and snap up the latest issue of DISCOVERIES. It is the definitive answer.

ME: Basically I had it really easy, because I took my time rediscovering, say, Monty Python; and then in college I discovered Firesign Theatre, so I didn't really notice that there wasn't very much new in the way of group comedy. There was the Kids in the Hall, of course, but they didn't make records. In the late seventies, Steve Martin was putting out albums, Monty Python put out ten albums, National Lampoon put out nine albums...

PHIL: I actually wrote and acted on one of the National Lampoon albums, SEX DRUGS ROCK 'N ROLL AND THE END OF THE WORLD.... It was very active, there were a lot of comedy people. Almost anybody who got any kind of a success, instead of appearing on cable television they would put out an album.

ME: Then in the eighties, things really thinned out -- what happened?

PHIL: Well, what happened was that cable television and MTV really broke on the world, and comedy as a taboo kind of personal and private subject which was an expression that you could take home and play in the privacy of your own home, and had a warning saying "Explicit Language Used" -- well, suddenly you could hear explicit language on television, on cable. So there was really no need for this kind of private and personal communication of comedic ideas on record, in a recorded form. The private became public, if you will. And as a result the market changed drastically. And more and more, as the rental companies grew, and the whole concept of home video became more prevalent in this society, that also eroded the opportunity or the need for people to make records; because they could take a video performance, slap it on a tape and either sell it or rent it out! And that's what happened to the recording industry. And in essence, it's kind of what happened to music, too, because once MTV and the visual style of quick cutting -- which was inspired after all by "Laugh-In" (I heard George Schlatter on the radio being interviewed on Michael Jackson's program today -- not the other Michael Jackson, the OTHER Michael Jackson -- and he copped to the fact that yes, they invented the fast cut joke, fast cut television, the deficit-attention concept), but once that became the appropriate way to watch music, then the very nature of music changed. It was no longer a kind of a ballad, or you didn't necessarily need a story that you could follow from beginning to end, because television was chopping it up and making it inchoate anyway, and the important thing was, if anything, the energy of the music. So that changed music and further pushed comedy out of the public consciousness.

ME: How do you feel about the kind of comedy you see on CDs in stores now? Because I know when I go to Hastings, I see fifteen copies of The Jerky Boys and fifteen copies of Jeff Foxworthy, and that's almost it.

PHIL: Yeah -- I mean, it's basically fad comedy. I'm not saying it's BAD comedy, it's just fad comedy. The Jerky Boys are an anomaly. They really did some outrageously funny things, by taking the party record and the concept of making funny phone calls and publicizing it -- again, making the private public. And they did it, in their first record at least, with great good humor, I think. They were extremely funny. Their minds were funny and the way that they did it and their attitudes were very funny. I then worked in a film that the Jerky Boys did, that was out for three and a half seconds I think, and of course it didn't translate at all well onto the big screen. On the other hand, somebody like Jeff Foxworthy's comedy, which he spent quite a period of time developing -- the whole redneck comedy idea -- it reaches the great mass of American people, it's easy to understand, and he's a very appealing television personality, he's obviously a very nice guy, and so a great majority of Americans can easily understand and appreciate that kind of comedy. But that's always been that way. Andy Griffith started doing his kind of bucolic monologues on record, and that's how he got started in show business. I don't know if you remember that...

ME: Uh, probably not. [my age in 1995 = 23]

PHIL: That led eventually to that wonderful television series, the Andy Griffith Show or whatever the hell it was called. So, again, there's nothing new under the sun, it's just that things happen to a lesser or greater degree in accordance with the marketplace. Because this society is a consumer-driven society -- one might almost say we are a consumer- consuming society. I think we're actually eating our foot off at this particular moment, but that's another story...

ME: Which would account for the droves of CDs that are there -- I mean, maybe twenty copies of a single CD and one other CD and hardly anything else.

PHIL: That's right, because the companies are no longer making enough profit from comedy albums unless they are either of a nostalgic nature, like Richie Pryor or George Carlin -- who is terrific and is still pumping it out -- somebody who's still out there doing that thing. But even they are hard to find sometimes. In a way, I might say that Firesign Theatre albums and other albums of like ilk -- for instance they're commemorating now the Beyond the Fringe appearance, which was a forerunner of us -- in fact, in the latest issue of Vanity Fair [December '95] which I just received today and I'm holding in my hand right now, I'm told that they commemorate the history of Beyond the Fringe and that we are noted as being inspired by the boys in Beyond the Fringe. So, for now, CD is a way of investigating comedy of the past that still speaks to us. In fact one of the albums I just got was Lenny Bruce, which they're redistributing in CD form. So we're not only consuming our present at a terrible rate, which will mean that we'll have less of the future to consume, but we're recycling and reconsuming our past.

Bob and Ray

ME: That was going to be my next question -- what comedy CDs would you especially like to see rereleased? Because I know the Credibility Gap, for example, had three brilliant albums -- what's the chance of those seeing the light of day?

PHIL: I don't know -- I would think that with the success of the brilliant Harry Shearer, who was a pivotal member of that wonderful group, that those pieces would be rereleased at some point. But you know, one of the tragedies of having done comedy in the past is that the masters -- which means in essence the actual finished tape produced after many many hours in the studio, from which the records were pressed after a vinyl master was made -- those masters in many instances are lost because of mishandling by the record companies. Isn't that bizarre? And that often happens. So it may be that -- most of us didn't realize how valuable our material was going to become, and the record companies for the most part owned everything. You were under contract and they gave you money and you made this record and this tape belongs to the record company. It's your material, you license them to use it, but they own that record.

ME: Is that how the Firesign Theatre material survived?

PHIL: Oh yes, that's the standard way -- unless you buy that master back. You can go in and say "I'll buy that master for $20,000." And they say, "Okay, sucker, here ya go, it's yours." And then you have to distribute it, or you'd license it back to them to distribute, but you really own it. We never were smart enough to do that. Luckily a lot of our masters still exist, but some of them are hard to find now, and that may be what happened to the Credibility Gap and people like that... I don't personally know, I'd have to really look back into my record collection to say, "Gee, I'd love to see this redistributed," because most of my great comic inspiration came from people like Bob and Ray. Bob and Ray are being reissued -- their new old material is being reissued by Larry Josephson back in New York, who produced their radio shows for many years and who loved them dearly. And I actually have contributed several pieces from my own private Bob and Ray radio archives to be released in that sense. But I frankly would love to see, next to my Stan Freberg CD, and my Jerry Lewis CD, I'd love to see Ernie Kovacs and Bob and Ray CDs. And that may be forthcoming.

....

ME: I'm not sure if this will go in or not, but I did need to ask -- Harry Shearer, on his LE SHOW, had a schtick a couple of weeks ago where he invited people to call in and say What Do You Know About O.J.? I don't mean do you have an opinion, I mean What Do You Know? So -- do you know anything?

PHIL: Well, actually, I wrote a poem about O.J. in which I took the letters O and J and wrote an entire poem using those letters. If I had it here now, I'd be happy to read it for you. Would you like to hear it? Probably be too long. Some other time. [Note: poem is on the last page of FALaFal #27.] The only thing I know is that O.J. -- and this may have some pertinence on whether he was guilty or not -- O.J. just signed a contract for a famous... I can't name the name, because I don't want to get in any trouble... but a famous footwear manufacturer, you know, like sneakers and things like that? Sports sneakers. And from what I understand the campaign is going to be a picture of O.J. with these shoes on his hands, I think he's just got one on his hand, the other one's lying at his foot, but he's not wearing it; and underneath it it says, "Just did it." Now, see, I don't know what that really means or says about the case, but I think the man is desperate for money, if you really want to know.... "Just did it!"

ME: I'm afraid.

PHIL: Be afraid, be very afraid.

ME: There were just a couple more things... I was hoping that you might do a legal ID for us.

PHIL: A legal ID? What, do I have to be over 21 years of age? Well I qualify for that!

ME: Just say, "You're listening to KUOI-FM Moscow, 89.3" and your choice of crazy things after that...

....

PHIL: Hello, this is Phil Proctor, and I'd like to introduce my friend, Perry Stroika. [Russian announcer voice] Hallo comrades. You are listening to KUOI-FM in Moscow, at 89.3. And you know, you have lasted for fifty years -- if you go another twenty, you'll last as long as the Soviet Union did! Dos vedanya!

....

PHIL: Hi, this is Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theatre, and you're listening to KUOI-FM in Moscow, 89.3, but you know, if the Republicans have their way, they may have to change their letters to K-IOU. Please -- support your station.

....

PHIL: Hi, this is Phil Proctor, and I'd like to introduce my friend, ex- Soviet Union broadcaster Perry Stroika. Perry, would you do the I.D.? [Perry's voice speaks Russia for ten seconds] Perry -- no, no, Perry, wait -- [Perry, in Russian: "What? What's wrong?"] No, no -- it's Moscow, Idaho. Not Moscow, Russia. [Perry voice] Oh! Why didn't you say so? You're listening to KUOI-FM in -- the OTHER Moscow! 89.3.

....

ME: [to the engineer] Dave, do we have that cued up? We can play that for you right now, Phil.

PHIL: What's that?

ME: I just want to know what you're saying! [Dave cues up Proctor and Bergman '75 tape]

PROCTOR & BERGMAN '75 TAPE: [Phil] Here's an important announcement for the Moscow area: [speaks Russian for ten seconds] Okay? I hope that's clear, and everybody out there in Moscow will hop to it.

PHIL: You know what I said there? "Attention everybody: The time is now either four o'clock or not four o'clock. Thank you."

ME: So you do speak Russian fluently?

PHIL: Well, I speak it conversationally fluently -- I don't get to use it as much as I did in the past, so I'm not as fluent as I used to be.

ME: How many languages do you speak?

PHIL: I speak about, I'd say, six languages, fairly comfortably. I can get along in six languages. Russian, French, Spanish, English, Norwegian -- and then, because of those, Swedish and Danish a little bit, and Czechoslovakian and Bulgarian and Polish. And Italian. And German! Because once you get into a couple of languages, there are root forms for other languages, and anybody who is fluent in two or more languages can get along fairly easily in other languages -- even ones that are not strongly related, like Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic -- if you just focus and concentrate on them. Because the grammatical rules are not all that different, and the way that words are built and all that stuff. It's really fun. I get to use that a lot in my movie work.

....

ME: I need to get a snail-mail address from you so I can send you a tape.

PHIL: Okay, sure! [gives address]... Beverly Hills, California, 90210.

[Dave laughs.]

PHIL: Well, he's laughing in the background, but -- ironically, I live next door to a house that is owned by one of the producers of "90210," who is now producing "Melrose Place." So he's moved! How about that?

ME: Small world...

PHIL: Small world! Sylvester Stallone used to live up at the top of our hill here... this is all true. I mean you're really right in the middle of it. But the thing is, Sylvester Stallone lives at the TOP of the hill, and we live at the BOTTOM of the hill. Okay? Now, Sylvester lives right next door to Kirk Kerkorian, who is really one of the wealthiest men in the world. He used to own MGM, and he owned the MGM Grand, and he's been trying to buy Chrysler Motors. Well, he OWNS the top of the hill. And because Sylvester -- or Sly as we call him -- because Sly liked to drive fast down our hill, Kirk Kerkorian put in a new street for us! This is all, honest-to-God, absolutely true. At the cost of a half a million dollars. God bless him, Kirk You're-A-Great-Guy Kerkorian. Put in a street so that Sylvester Stallone could drive fast down to Benedict Canyon. But Sylvester isn't living here anymore. [singing] "Sly ain't livin' here no more!" Because he had work done on his house, he was remodeling his house, and he hired his construction crew from one of his motion pictures to do all the work on it. And when the earthquake hit, IT FELL DOWN! And the construction crew said: "But Sly -- we always strike the set at the end of the shoot! What are you getting upset about?" And that's also an absolutely true story. So he moved to Miami, remember, and he did that movie where everything blew up, which I worked on for a while.

ME: Well we all did, really.

PHIL: [laughs] That's right.

Bang Bang

ME: One brief question about the four or five of you crazy guys...

PHIL: It is a foursome, yes.

ME: When was the last time you were all in the same place at the same time?

PHIL: The last time was when we did the TICK episode. And then the summer came upon us and Dave Ossman went back up to Whidbey Island, where he lives, up off of Seattle, and Phil Austin and Oona went up to their second house in Tacoma on Elliott Bay, named after Phil's wife Oona Elliott. And they're up there clamming and doing whatever else they do up there in Tacky Tacoma, and they commute back and forth to do various work and all. And I've talked to Phil recently, I talked to him about two weeks ago, but they're probably on their way back down now.

ME: Do you think you'll be able to work out all your schedules and make another short tour?

PHIL: I don't know about a tour -- I think that the next thing that we'll probably do will be -- if we can interact enough together, we'll do some kind of interactive project, and out of that, promote it by some more touring or whatever. But I can't promise anything because it's a very hard marketplace out there without television exposure, and so far the Firesign has found it difficult to get on cable. Even though we predicted it in TV OR NOT TV!

ME: For which, you'd think they'd have just a little bit of respect...

PHIL: Well, they have a little bit of respect, but you know -- and I mean this with no disrespect to America, but -- America is basically greed driven right now. And I think we're in a very unfortunate period -- I think they used to call it The Period Right Before the Fall of the Civilization. I think that's what they call it... in which the values that are basically guiding the choices that people make are, unfortunately, more material than they are spiritual. And as you may know, the word spiritual really means Comedical. The word l'esprit in French means Comedy, as it were. You have a sense of humor, it's a sense d'esprit! You know, recently they had that referendum up in Canada whether Quebec was going to secede from the Union, as it were -- and to me that whole situation was perfectly expressed by a French Canadian word: "Quebecois?"... see, any French-speaking people will understand that. I don't know if they ever use that joke up there, but... "Quebec quois?"

ME: Well, I don't know -- I've never really noticed the Canadian thing here in Moscow, you don't see signs up everywhere saying "We don't take Canadian money"...

PHIL: No, I guess not... but you're close to Canada up there, aren't you?

ME: Pretty close, yeah.

PHIL: Yeah, you know, if they produced any real culture of their own I'm sure it would drift down to you! But I guess it doesn't. The only thing we get from Canada is cold air!

ME: And the Kids in the Hall...

PHIL: I think the only thing they get from us is hot air!

ME: You know, I think we've covered everything... unless there's something you absolutely have to make public to all ten of our listeners...

PHIL: No, really, I think I've tried to promote the ways that people can get Firesign material, which our fans really dearly appreciate, and you can always mention the fact that there are a couple of fan sites on the Web, and if anybody wants to get in touch with me through the fan sites I'll be happy to answer. I answer my e-mail.

ME: Do you lurk on any of the newsgroups on USENET?

PHIL: No, I don't lurk yet, because I haven't really had the time to get up and on the net. I'm more like IN the net. You know when you go to a spider web and there's one of those little "Help me! Help me!" That's more like me. I'm kind of stuck in the net.. I'm not yet really ON the net. But I'm working at lurking. I'll eventually get up there.

ME: We will be looking forward to it.

PHIL: And I wish the station much success as you enter your fifty-first year. I entered my fifty-first year about four years ago, and I'm telling you, the fifties are a great decade. They WERE a great decade and they'll BE a great decade.

ME: Thank you so much for giving the hour...

PHIL: I'm so glad I could be here in your ear.


Firesign Theatre