Tim Ferguson is probably best known as one of the members of the comedy trio Doug Anthony All Stars that were particularly popular on Australian television screens in the late 80’s. In this Adelaide Fringe performance, Ferguson chats to us about his life and times, including his diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis; “Why have just one sclerosis when you can have multiple.”
The monologue to the sold out opening night crowd begins with his recollections of his father Tony Ferguson, a roving ABC correspondent who then went on to produce the current affairs show This Day Tonight which covered controversial topics such as women who lived in a lesbian relationship. The audience were treated to a copy of the clip that aired back in 1971. It is clear that his father’s irreverent attitude had a defining influence on the young Tim.
While Ferguson took aim at many targets, such as millenials, bald men and naturopaths, he is also quick to show a self-deprecating side, with readings of his own teenage poetry, including reflections on a kaleidoscope where the colours are all black and a puppy that dies.
Ferguson’s story is of a life that has been rich and full, with forays into stage and screen as actor, writer and producer, comedy teaching and event performer. His show, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush was an incredibly expensive, but successful television series for the Nine Network. There were musings on the conflict between commercialism and family values with some barbed references to “Our ABC”.
As a comedy teacher, Ferguson explains that most comedy can be broken down to formulae. For example the twitter hashtag #lessambitiousmovies relies on changing the title of a movie by adding or subtracting a letter or word to create a less ambitious movie. Jaws could become Jaw: a movie about an aging shark with no teeth. The audience get a minute or so to come up with their own, but this just seems to reinforce the fact that not everyone can be funny.
Ferguson also described his life with MS including details about his daily struggles. Even though he describes the pain in excruciating detail to elicit some faux sympathy, he quickly turns it into comedic material, describing, for example, how he uses the wheel chair to his advantage in airport screenings and the benefits of wearing a nappy to pickup girls at nightclubs.
All in all, Tim Ferguson’s show is an amusing insight into the mind of a man who has entertained us for some thirty years and hopefully will for many more.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Tim Ferguson: A Fast Life on Wheels plays at the Exhibition Hall at the National Wine Centre until March 17
Tickets available here
Photo credit: Jeremy Belinfante