Editor’s Note: Due to weather, the David Ossman Not Insane 2020! fundraising show for South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers has been rescheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, March 16 at Clyde Theatre in Langley. The spaghetti dinner takes place 4:30-7:30, Friday, March 15 at Langley United Methodist Church, 301 Anthes Ave. Tickets still available and sold at door.
Meet George Leroy Tirebiter.
He’s running for vice president of the United States of America.
It’s a pretty good gig, Tirebiter surmises. Comes with a long shiny black car and a pair of big guys who could come in handy uncorking wine bottles. And, it has, as he puts it, “all the power, none of the responsibility.”
Tirebiter plans to announce his candidacy Feb. 9 at the Clyde Theatre during an afternoon benefit for South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers. Tickets cost $20.
His slogan: NOT INSANE 2020! His affiliation: The National Surrealist Party. His doppelganger: David Ossman.
Ossman is a 30-year resident of Freeland, writer, voice artist and comic entertainer best known for being one-quarter of the Firesign Theatre troupe that poked fun at politics, UFO conspiracies, hippies and other societal topics during the late 1960s and 1970s.
“It was very directed toward a stoner audience,” he says.
Dubbed “the Beatles of comedy” by the Library of Congress, where many of the group’s audio recordings are preserved, Firesign produced two dozen best-selling albums, seven nationally syndicated radio series, local and national shows, musicals and short films.
It was formed in 1966 in Los Angeles with Ossman, Phil Proctor and their late colleagues, Peter Bergman and Phil Austin. They sold out at college campuses and at Carnegie Hall.
Tirebiter is one of Ossman’s many fantastical characters and voices he’s donned over the decades. Others include Harold Hiphugger, Channel 6 newscaster; Beat St. Jack, beat poet; Art Wholeflaffer, nudist manager of a trailer park; and Catherwood the butler.
Tirebiter first ran for vice president in 1976 and did it again “a couple other times.”
“You need a catchy slogan like ‘Build a Wall’ or ‘Not Insane,’” says Ossman, who decided to revive Tirebiter as an antidote to the current episodes of chaos airing from the White House.
“It’s so appropriate now,” Ossman says, “How could I not do it?”
The benefit will also showcase the 40-plus-year career of Ossman — as a young poet in New York, a pioneer of FM and public radio and the grandfatherly ant Cornelius in the animated film “A Bug’s Life.”
He hopes it’s the first of numerous performances on his “Hello & Goodbye Tour.”
“It’s time for me to say ‘Hello and Goodbye,’” says the 82-year-old, “because I still can.”
All ticket sales for the Feb. 9 show go to South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers, a nonprofit devoted to the simple mission of “neighbors helping neighbors.”
On its annual first Saturday in May Work Day, teams of volunteers tackle a list of safety and maintenance repairs for home owners, some of whom are elderly, disabled and in danger of losing their property. Last year, more than 400 volunteers were dispatched in teams to 34 houses around South Whidbey.
“If the benefit sells out, it could contribute $4,000 to $4,500,” said Judith Walcutt, who’s producing and directing the Feb. 9 event and also happens to be Ossman’s bride of 32 years. “We hope this will kick off community contributions large and small.”
The Road Wranglers, featuring local musicians Chris Harshman, Keegan Harshman and Mickey Grimm, will perform in the second act as Ossman performs “The Old Cart Wrangler’s Saga,” a full-length comic monologue by playwright Brian Price.
Ossman and Walcutt, who met at WGBH in Boston, have collaborated on many projects over the years, including at South Whidbey theaters after moving here in 1988. Walcutt is also well-known nationally for her audio theater company, Otherworld Media.
She goes along with her husband’s never-ending tongue-in-cheek quest to be elected as the nation’s No. 1 No. 2 because it’s sensible.
“Why run for president?” Walcutt asks. “It’s a thankless job. The vice president holds all the power.”
In recent years, Ossman has written a novel, penned his memoirs and continues to be a collagist, also known as a person who can’t draw so instead cuts up and pastes lots of paper and stuff.
Ossman could be considered one those South Whidbey artsy oldsters who are icons to some but a blur of gray to others.
Deana Duncan belongs to the first group. Artistic director at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Duncan remembers studying Firesign Theatre’s audio performances in college.
“That group is famous,” she said. “Their radio drama is legendary. I couldn’t believe it when I learned David Ossman lived on Whidbey.”
He’s here. He’s not insane and he wants your vote.
South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers fundraisers
— Spaghetti dinner: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 8, all-you-can-eat-spaghetti dinner,volunteer kick off, Langley United Methodist Church, 301 Anthes Ave. Admission $5.
— Hello & Goodbye Tour with David Ossman: 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, Clyde Theatre, 217 1st St., Langley. Tickets $20 (plus fee) at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4056393. Tickets sold at door if still available at showtime.
— All proceeds benefit South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers, www.heart sandhammers.com.