US A BREAK: THE COMEDY OF PROCTOR & BERGMAN
"Give Us A Break" is the
final full-length release from any of the Firesigns during the '70s
(the EP "Nick Danger, Third Eye in the Case of the Missing
Shoe" would pop out on Rhino Records in '79). It is also perhaps
THE most conventional of any of the Firesign releases (along with
Proctor & Bergman's "What This Country Needs") as
it is a completely straightforward comedy album. No stream-of-consciousness
narratives, no involved plotlines, no fancy audio effects - just
two-man sketches, some satirical, others simply silly.
As such, there isn't much to review other than the quality of the
individual pieces. Luckily, most of them are quite strong. Highlights
include: the Don Rickels-inspired "U. N. In Session" in
which Peter blasts the assorted ethnic groups gathered together
in the name of togetherness; "Brainduster Memory School"
in which Phil demonstrates his system for keeping your memory as
sharp as a razor (though his resembles a sieve); "Consumer
Watchdog," a funny commentary of artificial substitutes for
the most natural of products; and the supremely goofy commercial
for "Sneezer's Chicken," made perfectly silly by Peter
trotting out his high-pitched "Artie Choke" voice from
"Bozos." Even the weakest pieces have a definite satirical
point, and none outstay their welcome - "Chef Entree"
and "Whale Oil" come to mind. There are no duds on the
album - the worst one can say about a bit is that it is merely clever,
without inspriing belly laughs.
"Give Us A Break"
is a minor release, but an amusing one. It is unjustly overlooked
next to Proctor & Bergman's epic "T.V. Or Not T.V."
(along with "Roller Maidens From Outer Space," the best
of the Firesign solo records). It's an album which even Firesign
beginners can listen to and enjoy, chuckling throughout, without
fear of getting lost or overwhelmed in a complex comedic tapestry.
-- Phil Buchbinder