Proctor and Bergman

Proctor and Bergman was a comedy duo consisting of Philip Proctor and Peter Bergman. The two started performing in 1973 while taking a break from the four-man comedy act The Firesign Theatre, with the comedy album "TV or Not TV", on which they based a short film in 1978. They reunited the Firesign Theatre in 1974, but resumed their duo act in 1975 during a second temporary split of the Firesigns, and continued to perform as a duo during several breaks of the Firesign Theatre until Bergman's death in 2012.

Proctor and Bergman
Proctor and Bergman 1976.JPG
Alma materYale University
Years active1973–2012
Notable works and roles


Peter Bergman and Philip Proctor met while attending Yale University in the late 1950s, where Proctor studied acting, and Bergman edited the Yale comedy magazine. Bergman studied playwriting and collaborated as lyricist with Austin Pendleton on two Yale Dramat musicals in which Proctor starred: Tom Jones, and Booth Is Back In Town.[1][2]

Proctor was in Los Angeles in 1966, looking for acting work and watching the Sunset Strip curfew riots. When he discovered he was sitting on a newspaper photo of Bergman, he called his college buddy, who recruited him as the fourth man for the comedy group he formed, along with producers Phil Austin and David Ossman. Bergman christened the group the Firesign Theatre, as all four were born under the three astrological fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius).

In 1972, the Firesign Theatre combined parts of a live stage show, the Shakespeare parody The Count of Monte Cristo, with a live KPFK broadcast, Martian Space Party, plus some new studio material to produce their sixth album Not Insane or Anything You Want To. But before releasing the album in October 1972, they had discarded their original story line idea and some newly written scenes.[3] The album performed poorly, and the Firesigns decided to take a break and perform in separate directions for a while. Proctor and Bergman decided to perform as a duo, and made a separate record deal with Columbia,[4] producing TV or Not TV: A Video Vaudeville in Two Acts.[5] They turned this into a vaudeville-type show which they played on tour. While promoting the show, they did a radio interview with disk jockey Wolfman Jack.[4]

The Firesign Theatre reunited in 1974 and produced three more comedy albums for Columbia. The ninth one, In the Next World, You're on Your Own, was a black comedy which also sold poorly in 1975, and caused the Firesigns to lose their Columbia recording contract. They effectively split in half again, and Proctor and Bergman turned their attention to producing a live show and Columbia album, What This Country Needs, based in part on material from TV or Not TV.

They appeared as regulars on a 1977 summer replacement TV series hosted by the Starland Vocal Band. Proctor and Bergman gave up their road performances after witnessing the September 4, 1977 Golden Dragon Massacre, and in 1978 released another studio album Give Us a Break, which lampooned radio and television. The Starland Vocal Band also performed short comic radio breaks on this album.[4]

In 1979, Proctor and Bergman produced a film, J-Men Forever, using clips from old Republic Pictures movie serials with dubbed dialogue, combined with new footage of them as FBI agents tracking down a villain known as "the Lightning Bug" voiced by disk jockey M. G. Kelly. This became popular on the 1980s late-night TV series Night Flight.

The Firesign Theatre reunited again late in 1979, but the changing American social and political climate marked by the election of President Ronald Reagan caused a cooling-off of the Theatre's first wave of popularity.[6] In the summer of 1990, NPR producer Ted Bonnitt called Proctor and asked him if he wanted to contribute some comedy material to Bonnitt's nightly program HEAT with John Hockenberry. Proctor called Bergman, and the duo agreed to write and perform a serial consisting of 13 five-minute episodes, Power: Life on the Edge in L.A.[7]

In 1993, the Firesign Theatre reunited for a ten-city cross-country reunion tour, and experienced a second wave of popularity. They produced five albums of new material and continued to perform live, until Bergman's death on March 9, 2012, from complications involving leukemia.[8]


Original textEdit

It was also over our heads in a sense that we were turning out a show, too much, too soon. The show was bigger than who we were. We didn't come up through the clubs. We went back to the clubs after this.

— Peter Bergman[10]

The two Midwestern members of the group performed as a double act for a while in the mid-1970s and recorded a few albums,[11] though all four members continued to perform and record together.

In 1977, they were regulars on a summer replacement television series on CBS hosted by the Starland Vocal Band.

After the series, at the peak of their career as a duo, the performers and their entourage were eating a post show meal when they were ancillary to the Golden Dragon massacre. When Army veteran Bergman realized the perpetrators had emptied their weapons, he rose in time to see their faces as they exited, later testifying in their conviction. While only one person in their party was wounded in the massacre, it took the air out of their will to continue on the road.[10]

The screenplay for the 1979 movie Americathon was an adaptation by others of a play written by Proctor and Bergman.





  • Six Dreams (Peter Bergman - executive producer, Phil Proctor) (13 min., 1976)
  • TV or Not TV (33 min., 1978) based on the Proctor and Bergman album
  • Americathon (86 min., 1979) based on a sketch created by Proctor and Bergman
  • J-Men Forever (75 min., 1979) Proctor and Bergman; compilation of Republic Science Fiction serial clips with new dialogue overdubbed



  1. ^ "Who Am Us, Anyway? Peter Bergman". Firesign Media. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  2. ^ Proctor, Philip. Bride of Firesign. Firesign Media (liner notes). Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  3. ^ "The Martian Space Party Diary". 1996. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Peter Bergman (Spring 1999). "The History of Proctor & Bergman On the Road". 1 (5). Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Proctor and Bergman | Bottom Line | New York, NY | Jun 8, 1978 | Late Show -". June 8, 1978. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  6. ^ Simels, Steve (1993). Putting It Simply, There's Never Been Anything Like The Firesign Theatre Before or Since (liner notes). Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Bonnitt, Ted (1998). Power: Life on the Edge in L.A. (liner notes). Proctor and Bergman. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "Peter Bergman, Firesign Theatre founder, dies at 72 | 89.3 KPCC". March 9, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  9. ^ "Proctor and Bergman - Market Guards / Consumer Watchdog".
  10. ^ a b "FIREZINE #5: History of Proctor & Bergman on the Road".
  11. ^
  12. ^ Voices;