What does "we're all bozos on this bus" mean in the following sentence?

This reminds me of my lovely old German teacher. One of the first things he told us was "we're all bozos on this bus."

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  • 1
    bozo the clown is very famous in the usa. was the German teacher a German teaching math or an American teaching German? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozo_the_Clown – user175542 Apr 21 '17 at 18:56
  • Where did this quote come from? – aparente001 Apr 22 '17 at 3:35

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/144569-we-re-all-bozos-on-the-bus-so-might-as-well (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavy_Gravy)

Here's an interpretation:

But my all-time favorite Wavy-ism is the line above about Bozos on the bus, one he repeats whenever he speaks to groups, whether at a clown workshop or in a children's hospital. I have co-opted the phrase and I use it to begin my workshops, because I believe that we are all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments-mistake-prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world. None of us are models of perfect behavior: We have all betrayed and been betrayed; we've been known to be egotistical, unreliable, lethargic, and stingy; and each one of us has, at times, awakened in the middle of the night worrying about everything from money to kids to terrorism to wrinkled skin and receding hairlines. In other words, we're all bozos on the bus.



"We're all bozos on this bus" is subject to interpretation, but one way of explaining it is:

None of us is immune to the surrealness of life.

The phrase "We're all bozos on this bus" is the title of a Firesign Theater album from 1971, and a line of dialogue from the album. Firesign Theater was a comedy group that made surrealist audio recordings.

If you want to listen to the album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmWFrMq3qNY. The key quote comes at about six minutes in.

"Bozo the Clown" was a popular culture icon in the U.S. long before anybody was talking about popular culture. Then Firesign played with it. Here's what Firesign said about Bozo in an interview:

B.O.Z.O. is the Brotherhood of Zips and Others. Bozos are people who band together for fun and profit. They have no jobs. Anybody who goes on a tour is a Bozo. Why does a Bozo cross the street? Because there's a Bozo on the other side. It comes from the phrase vosotros, meaning others. They're the huge, fat, middle waist. The archetype is an Irish drunk clown with red hair and nose, and pale skin. Fields, William Bendix. Everybody tends to drift towards Bozoness. It has Oz in it. They mean well. They're straight-looking except they've got inflatable shoes. They like their comforts. The Bozos have learned to enjoy their free time, which is all the time.

I will explain "goes on a tour" in case you're not familiar with that concept. The comedians are making fun of people who get on a tour bus and visit a sightseeing landmark in a group, with glib explanations provided by a tour guide.

Here's an example of someone citing the line in order to explain how surreal the Trump phenomenon feels to him:

5 Aug. 2016

Dear Friends and Patriots,

A long time ago there was a comedic group called Firesign Theater. Firesign Theater put out a series of long-playing albums (that’s records on vinyl for you digit-heads) that were part fantasy, part social satire, and part wild imaginings of some truly twisted minds. To call the albums bizarre is to give them only partial credit. For those of us who were sort of young at the time, they were completely delightful exercises in mental anarchy. I was in the Navy at the time and my friends and I used to memorize and quote entire routines from the Firesign Theater albums. When we were together and bouncing lines off each other with shipmates present who hadn’t been properly indoctrinated the effect was much like speaking in tongues. Unless you’d heard a Firesign Theater album a few times the effect was probably unsettling. Think of a bunch of young guys spouting nonsense at each other, laughing like hyenas, and obviously understanding each and every phrase. Yeah, it was a strange time.

I’m not sure those albums are available anywhere today, which is a great pity. But . . . I do have a book that was released in the late ‘70s; a transcription of all the Firesign Theater albums. I count myself fortunate because recalling and re-reading those skits helps me today. Sometimes they serve as a frame of reference for current events most of you might consider completely irrational; beyond the pale of sanity.

The title of this article is also the title of the fourth Firesign Theater album. The skit by that name centers around the conversations of a group of people who are all dressed up and on a bus headed for a clown convention. I won’t start quoting here because it’s only tangential to the actual subject at hand. Suffice it to say events of the past week or so have dredged the entire album out of the recesses of my mind. Call me strange, if you wish.

This past week I’ve felt as if I were a clown on the Bozo bus. The conversations I’ve heard emanating from my TV are downright bizarre. The utterances of the presidential candidates have become inane and possibly insane babble. Are we all Bozos on this bus, or have we somehow stepped through a worm hole together and are now occupying a parallel universe?

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