[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/FiresignTheatre.png]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Four Or Five Crazee Guys]]

The Firesign Theatre (sometimes credited as The Firesign Theat''er'') is an American comedy group; its members are (left to right) Philip Proctor, the late Peter Bergman, Phil Austin, and David Ossman. Their albums parody the usual radio and comedy album tropes.

After working briefly in local radio in the 1960s, they started releasing albums in 1968, debuting with ''Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him'' and followed in successive years by ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?''; ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'', ''I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus'' and others. Their comedy was based around improvisation and surrealism, with a touch of social commentary buried deep below the surface. Many of their longer pieces seem to be set in a bizarre and somewhat darker AlternateUniverse that still somehow manages to bear a direct relevance to our own.

They also made at several movies, including ''Film/JMenForever'', and ''Nick Danger: The Case of the Missing Yolk'' (a sequel to "AudioPlay/TheFurtherAdventuresOfNickDanger" from the album ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?'').

You can learn more about them at [[http://www.firesigntheatre.com/ their Web site]].
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!! Works with a page on this Wiki:

[[index]]
* ''AudioPlay/TheFurtherAdventuresOfNickDanger''
* ''AudioPlay/IThinkWereAllBozosOnThisBus''
* ''Film/JMenForever''
[[/index]]

!!The Firesign Theatre is the TropeNamer for:

* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment

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!!The Firesign Theatre employs, parodies, inverts or subverts the following tropes:

* AlternateUniverse: Many of their sketches especially the whole of ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers'' seem to take place in a world that's about six degrees closer to a twisted counterpart of ''[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour 1984]]'' than our own is.
* TheBackwardsR: The cover of their LP ''How Can You Be In Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?'', with its "All Hail [[TheMarxBrothers Marx]] and [[Music/JohnLennon Lennon]]" poster.
* BaldOfAwesome (Cast member Peter Bergman)
* BreastExpansion (Booby Chew)
* BrickJoke
* BulletDancing: Done in "Temporarily Humboldt County", from the album ''Waiting for the Electician'': someone fires a gun (presumably) at a native American Indian's feet.
--> 'Let's see the war dance, yeah *bang* dance dance'.
* CloudCuckoolander (All of them.)
* ClusterFBomb
* ContinuityNod: Out there, somewhere, there is a Firesign Theatre fan who is making a life's labour of love out of laying out the Theatre's huge and intricate web of in-jokes and self-[=/=]meta-[=/=]self-meta-references.
* CoolClearWater: Parodied by the "advertisement" for "Bear Whiz Beer":
-->It's in the water! That's why it's yellow!
* CouldntFindAPen: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in ''Waiting for the Electrician (or Someone Like Him)'', when our hero of side B ends up in prison, his cellmate recounts the tale of how he started his great prison epic. When he gets on to the ink:
-->'''Prisoner:''' At first I used an ink composed in parts of me own blood, but when I found that it would not make a suitable carbon ''[[StatingTheSimpleSolution I acquired an electric typewriter]]''.
* CulturePolice: "Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde", on ''Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him'', describes a hippie-run future where drug use and rebellion are rigorously enforced by the Establishment.
* CurseOfTheAncients: In the episode of "Mark Time" heard on the ''Dear Friends'' recording, Dr. Technical says "Dad ding blast it to blazes! ... If I could just get this dad blame water pump to turn over."
* DawsonCasting: Parodied on ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'', when high school hero Porgie's best friend, Mudhead, admits he's 30 years old.
* DeadlyGame ("Beat the Reaper", "Stab from the Past")
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment (TropeNamer)
* DisneyOwnsThisTrope: The album ''Give Me Immortality... Or Give Me Death!'' has repeated promos from "U.S. Plus": "We own the idea... of America." Toward the end of the play they're announcing "We own the idea... of the idea of America."
* FormerChildStar (George "Porgie" Tirebiter, on ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'')
* [[FunnyAneurysmMoment/{{Other}} Funny Aneurysm Moment]]: On the 1980 album ''Fighting Clowns'' they have a song called "Reagan" which includes the line "and it's never too late to lose again". This song was later released as a single, with, as its B-side, a song called, "Carter", where they talk about Jimmy Carter winning re-election, then being followed by eight years of Mondale.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: It often pays to try and listen for what's going on in the background.
* GagDub: Their most successful film project, 1979's ''{{J-Men Forever}}'', took several '30s serials about catching spies and criminals and turned them into the adventures of a federal agency fighting for, among other things, our God-given rights to smoke dope and enjoy non-rock music.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Numerous rapidfire instances throughout their works. Just a sample, from the movie-within-an-album "High School Madness", on ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'':
-->'''Dad:''' Where is Porgie, anyhow?
-->'''Mom:''' He's upstairs, helping Porcelain make the bed.
-->'''sfx:''' squeaksqueaksqueaksqueaksqueak
-->'''Porcelain:''' Oh, Porgie! Oh my, oh my, oh my!
-->'''Mom:''' (off) Porgie! Porgie Tirebiter!
-->'''Porgie:''' C... c... c... coming, Mother!
** This opening sequence is a very direct parody of the opening of the 1940s radio/TV show ''TheAldrichFamily''.
* GeniusBonus: A typical feature of their comedic style. [[invoked]]
--> "It's like in the Army, you know? The great prince issues commands, founds states, vests families with fiefs. Inferior people should not be employed."\\
- Nick Danger, from the album ''How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?'' This is [[spoiler:a hexagram from the ''I Ching'']].
** Another example would be things such as the cover art for [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/83/FT_dctdbmap.jpg Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers]]. [[spoiler:They are done up as their respective astrological signs, which are all ''"Fire Signs"''.]]
* GratuitousPanning: ''We're All Bozos On This Bus''
* HistoricalCharacterConfusion: [[http://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/3056916340/ All hail Marx and Lennon!]]
* HollywoodApocrypha: "Toad Away". ''And lo, there came unto them Philip, called Punter...''
* HostileShowTakeover: Briefly attempted by Young Guy's BattleButler, Rotonoto, in "Young Guy Motor Detective Radio Prison".
* HurricaneOfPuns: Most notably in ''Anythynge You Want To'' and Nick Danger skits. Their Sherlock Holmes burlesque "The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra" is also a veritable thick, English industrial fog of puns, often [[FunnyBackgroundEvent four or five (crazee) levels deep]]:
-->'''Hemlock Stones:''' No no no, Crouton, old man -- you might as well ask who's behind the Giant Rat of Sumatra.
-->'''Dr. John Flotsam:''' Oh, very well, Stones, whose behind IS the Giant Rat of Sumatra?
-->'''Stones:''' ({{Beat}}) Damn, you're [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fats_Waller fats, Waller]].
-->'''Flotsam:''' What?
-->'''Stones:''' (quickly) Er, fast, Fatson.
* ImmoralRealityShow: ''Waiting for the Electrician (or Someone Like Him)'', has a segment with a game show called "Beat the Reaper", where participants are injected with deadly diseases, and must guess the disease from the symptoms before it kills them.
* InjunCountry: "Temporarily Humboldt County"
* LarynxDissonance: Being all men, they do male and female characters. Some of the female ones, especially those voiced by Phil Austin, are downright eerie.
* [[ViewersAreGeniuses Listeners Are Geniuses]]: A core value of their comedy.
* LongTitle: Most of their albums, although most notably ''How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?''
* MathematiciansAnswer: "Where're you from?" "Nairobi, ma'am. Isn't everybody?"
* MedicineShow: On the album ''Everything You Know Is Wrong'', the recording's narrator plays a wire recording of a medicine show featuring a "Dr. Firesign" promoting "Chief Dancing Knockout's Pyramid Pushover Paste" and "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Teachings_of_Don_Juan Don Bruhaha]]'s Inca Hell-Oil Tonic".
* MightyWhitey: Lampshaded in the movie-within-an-album "High School Madness" on ''Don't Touch That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers''. After the school disappears, a bunch of Latino students arrive out of nowhere and ask Porgie for advice because he's a white man and will know exactly what to do, leaving his buddy, Mudhead, to wonder "[[TokenMinority where did all these Mexicans come from?]]"
* MrSmith: In the bizarre side one skit from the album ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once, When You're Not Anywhere at All'', the central character finds himself in the lobby of a motel. The desk clerk gives him a card to fill out, but it's already been written in. He chuckles "Well, I couldn't get you to believe my name is 'Mr. and Mrs. John Smith', could I?" The clerk cheerily replies "Of course you could - nice to have you with us, Mr. and Mrs. Smith!" He goes by 'Mr. and Mrs. John Smith' for the rest of the album.
* MushroomSamba: In ''W.C. Fields Forever'', listeners are guided through a utopian hippie commune. Pretty much everyone can be assumed to be on drugs here, but the only one overtly taking them is Tiny Dr. Tim, Keeper of the Sacred Tablets (here, have a tablet). When [[http://www.davyking.com/LearyHorse.jpg a horse enters the scene]] he exclaims "Whoah! Nice paisley horsie! Give the nice paisley horsie some sugar cubes!" The horse runs off trumpeting like an elephant.
* NoodleImplements
* NoodleIncident
* OneSteveLimit
* PaintingTheMedium: They painted, remodeled, knocked out windows, and added aluminum siding to the fourth wall. Most of the Theatre's work was recorded in the specially constructed Fourth Wall Annex, which was M.C. Escher's only known foray into architectural design.
* {{Parody}}: Practically the defining value of their work.
* ParodyCommercial: Their albums are full of these, including:
** Their commercial for Bear Whiz Beer, from ''Everything You Know is Wrong'', is considered a classic: "As my daddy says, 'son, it's in the water--that's why it's yellow'"
** Boobie Chew is a hormone-filled gum that's supposed to make your breasts grow. "Even works for men!"
** ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?'' opens with an ad for Ralph Spoilsport Motors, which then segues into a customer arriving to buy a just-mentioned vehicle and driving off.
* PsychoElectro: "The Electrician", most prominently featured in "Hemlock Stones and the Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra".
** The Electrician notably fails to appear in their first album, ''Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him''.
** "I'm The Electrician, and the world is my oyster! Except for the months with an "R" in them!"
* {{Radio}}
* ReadingTheStageDirectionsOutLoud
* RedHerring: Invoked/Parodied in "The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra" when Stones and Dr. Flotsam show Violet Dudley the parcel they retrieved down at the docks: "nothing but a tin of red herrings in heavy oil!"
* SherlockHolmes (Parodied by "Hemlock Stones")
* ShoutOut: Numerous, often buried in parody. For instance, the quote under GettingCrapPastTheRadar is a reference to movie/radio character [[TheAldrichFamily Henry Aldrich]]; OnceAnEpisode his mother would call him "Henry, Henry Aldrich!" and in a voice cracking with adolescence he'd respond, "Coming, Mother!"
** The sheer quantity of [[Music/TheBeatles Beatles]] shout-outs almost warrant their own page...
** The entirety of ''By the Light of the Silvery'', the original theatrical version of what became ''The Giant Rat of Sumatra'', is a Shout Out to ''TheGoonShow''.
* ShowWithinAShow: Nearly half of ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'' is the soundtrack of "High School Madness", a mythical teen movie made during an equally mythical version of the 1940s and/or 1950s. Another quarter is the soundtrack of the mythical Korean War and/or Vietnam War movie "Babes In Khaki"/"Parallel Hell!". Much of the rest is snippets of various TV shows "overheard" while a character is channel-surfing.
* SmithicalMarriage
* SouthernBelle: In the album ''Everything You Know is Wrong'' the wire recording of the medicine show features one of these. Celebrating that the South won the Civil War:
---> Beulah Belle: Think of those balls you'll have!
---> Dad: You're too young to think about that, Beulah Balls. Er, Belle.
* SurrealHumor
* TakeThat: A sly one to TheResidents in ''Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death'' with the "Guys in Eyeball Hats", described as "Mumbling, Millenial Morons"
* TheGoonShow: Early Firesign was under heavy Goonish influence. The original Hemlock Stones adventure, ''By The Light of the Silvery'', is done in perfect Goons style, right down to the voices.
** Peter Bergman even worked with SpikeMilligan, a story he related after Milligan died, [[http://firesigntheatre.com/xmradio/show6/index.html here]].
* TitleDrop: The main character of ''How Can You Be in Two Places at Once, When You're Not Anywhere at All'' sings the title to himself as he drives his new car.
* TokenMinority: Lampshaded with the Mexican students in "High School Madness". See MightyWhitey above.
* TomatoInTheMirror
* TurnInYourBadge
* WhatsASecretFour: ''Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers'' is full of all kinds of apparently random throwaway details that give a bizarre dystopian {{Zeerust}} feel to the setting of its action.
* WhoWritesThisCrap
* WordSaladTitle: Most of their albums and tracks have these.
** "Young Guy Motor Detective Radio Prison" parodies the supposed Japanese penchant for such titles. Like many of the Japanese examples, there's a fairly straightforward explanation ("Radio Prison" is the ''episode title'') that it's more entertaining to ignore.

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