Editorial: Method in His Madness

We were Saddened to learn of the death of Phil Austin, cofounder of Firesign Theatre.

Austin had done some television voiceover work of late, but came to counterculture fame through radio comedy that shattered the fourth wall (and would have shattered a fifth, if there had been one).

His was surreal, biting, hilarious social commentary.

Austin (famously playing Nick Danger, Third Eye) teamed with Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Phil Proctor for improvisational radio plays on KPFK L.A., owned by Pacifica, which is probably more famous for hosting another piece of radio comedy history—the George Carlin “Filthy Words” monologue that triggered the FCC’s indecency enforcement regime.

Firesign’s radio plays were incorporated into a series of albums that sat proudly beside Cream, Steppenwolf and The Doors in many a record cabinet.

Fortunately, the group’s groundbreaking comedy continues on the Web—check it out at firesigntheatre.com/index.php.