Peorgie & Mudhead’s High School Madness: Graduation Special

Before Cheech and Chong, before National Lampoon, before Monty Python, there was the Firesign Theater, the comedy team of the late 60s and early 70s whose wild, surreal, intricate audio satire remains unmatched even today. Rolling Stone once declared their iconic album Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers (1970) the greatest comedy album ever made. I think that assessment holds up, but regrettably, this masterpiece is less well known as the decades roll by.

The Firesign Theater

The Firesign Theater

Are they a trope or a motif?

Are they a trope or a motif?

Funny names fall less thickly than you’d expect in the Firesign universe. Nevertheless, within its warped, recursive, self-referential space we can encounter such characters as Nick Danger (private eye), Chester Cadaver, and Peorgie Tirebiter. Peorgie and his sidekick Mudhead spoof Archie and Jughead, as well as corny teen hijinx flicks from the fifties and sixties. The pair may also pay homage to Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebbs.

Spoof? Homage?

Spoof? Homage?

Peorgie and Mudhead appear in a story within a story within Don’t Crush That Dwarf when a late night B movie, High School Madness, airs on the “Howl of the Wolf” program (“Presenting honest stories of working people as told by rich Hollywood stars”) while the TV plays in the run-down apartment of a hapless fellow named George Tirebiter (. . . ?).

Moderately high content warning here.

As Peorgie and Mudhead drive to their graduation, they recall an address by Principal Poop at a pep rally the day before:

Heckler: Eat it!
Principal Poop: You bet.
Heckler: Eat it raw!
Principal Poop: Rah, rah, rah. That’s the spirits we have here.

Principal Poop: So come on, kids. Line up, sign up, and re-enlist today, because we need more schooling, for more students, for Morse Science High.

Peorgie actually has other plans, which should serve as a model for graduates everywhere:

Right after I graduate I’m gonna cut the soles off my shoes, sit in a tree, and learn to play the flute!

But when Peorgie and Mudhead arrive, they get an earth-shattering surprise . . .

Peorgie: Holy Mudhead, mackerel! Morse Science High . . . It’s . . . disappeared!

We never learn how, or why, or whether Morse Science’s rival Commie Martyrs High is involved. Technical difficulties keep interrupting the broadcast and then the loopy, fragmentary narrative of the album moves on. But before it does, Principal Poop urges calm in an emergency message:

All of us want to know . . . just as much as I want to know who’s responsible . . . and until we do I must make my dirty cl . . . duty clean . . . clear and announce the suspendering of the upcoming graduating exercises which can not . . . and will . . . which aren’t taking place.

But don’t worry! Don’t worry! Your food, housing, insecurity, will be guaranteed by your Department of Redundancy Department and the Natural Guard. And remember trust pressers will be persecuted.

So please, stay where you are, don’t move, and don’t panic! Don’t take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

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18 Responses to Peorgie & Mudhead’s High School Madness: Graduation Special

  1. Dave says:

    Wow! That’s a cultural education if I’ve ever had one! And look at all those names!

    I’ll have to read it again in the morning when I’m a bit less exhausted, but there’s some great stuff in here!

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  3. Learned something new today. It took me a few minutes to catch all the saturnine satire of the album cover.

    • wdydfae says:

      Thanks! I never would have caught that at all except the background material I read explained the origin of “fire sign” (the four guys were all born under a fire sign, apparently).

  4. kerbey says:

    Call me Adolf? I picked up on the Fred and Ethel reference. You’d think in our ADD culture, this wouldn’t be hard to follow, but I guess we’re so visually oriented these days. LOL at Commie Martyrs High. Never heard of the Firesign Theater. Never even saw an album at Goodwill. It’s a secret, isn’t it?

    • wdydfae says:

      That’s pretty sharp commentary, kerbey! I think you’re already getting more of the references than I ever did. You’d be well rewarded getting more into the rest of this one, and their other stuff. You can’t find it at Goodwill but it’s all out there on the Toobs.

  5. Arto says:

    I gotta listen to this stuff. The Dwarf/Pliers material sounds golden! And what a title.

    • wdydfae says:

      This is a great sketch, too:

      The Powerhouse Church of the Presumptuous Assumption of the Blinding Light.
      O blinding light
      O light that blinds
      I cannot see
      Look out for me

  6. marksackler says:

    Dobie and Maynard. Wow. I regret to admit that I remember that show…it was a pre-adolescent favorite when I was in elementary school. The bad news: I have now dated myself. The worse news: most of our readers and contributors aren’t old enough to date the show.

    • wdydfae says:

      But think of the smug self-satisfaction we have at our disposal for watching Bob Denver before there was Gilligan’s Island. “Gilligan’s Island? (snort) I always thought Denver’s best work was Dobie Gillis, actually. (haughty sniff) You know, Dobie Gillis . . . Don’t tell me you’ve never seen it? Honestly?”

    • Paf Dvorak says:

      I tried dating myself once but I could never get my socks off.

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  8. Liz says:

    That’s not Krebs, that’s Gilligan, diddy. Just sayin’.

    But anyway. Sorry to be so late. Family vacay and all that. Both kids were sick and each picked a day to throw up ALL DAY LONG. Isn’t that nice? But because we were visiting the Happiest Place On Earth, it turned out to be a swell time overall.

    Though I’m here on your posting day, so I should skip the Me stuff, I know. Just trying to ‘splain away my absence. I’m here now and I’m listening. And so glad I am because I learned even more crazy stuff from this. Who knew? I most certainly did not. And I didn’t get any of the references because I’m innocent and naive. But I appreciate that others do and don’t feel dumb at all 😉

    Love the spirit that you bring to BoFN, WDYDFAE!

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