Adelaide Fringe 2019
Household name Tim Ferguson brings his fast lie on wheels to the Fringe.
Since the Doug Anthony All Stars became an item in the late 80’s, Tim Ferguson has been a house-hold name. Literally bursting into the Australia, and international comedy scene, The Doug’s were known globally as the bad-boys of comedy – who would swear and abuse audiences in one breath, then sing like angels in the next. But in the panicle of their careers, the All Stars suddenly split in 1994, much to the dismay of their loyal fans, and to wide-spread confusion in the comedy circuit.
Tim Ferguson – A Fast Life on Wheels is a brand-new show and takes the audience further back than they expect. Right back to where Ferguson was only a toddler – in fact, and his father was a trusted and respected correspondent and producer of the ABC. It was this career – and subsequent sacking for daring to produce and air a segment on lesbian relationships – that cemented Tim’s interest in irreverent TV; although that wouldn’t become apparent for some decades later.
Ferguson doesn’t skip over anything during this 60-minute live autobiography. He speaks with joy and a mischievous glint about the forming of the All-stars, and their takeover of the Edinburgh Festival during the 80’s and 90’s. He proudly discusses their reforming a few years back, and their triumphant return to the Edinburgh stage in 2016, where they won the Spirit of the Fringe Award.
But there’s an ‘elephant in the room’ that forms the real backbone to Tim’s tale, and that’s the symptoms, diagnosis and impact that Multiple Sclerosis has had on his life.
According to Ferguson, his symptoms started further back than anyone had ever realised. From falling out of bed because his legs simply wouldn’t move, to his eyes crossing and refusing to go back in focus, he first started showing the unmistakable signs that something was wrong right back to the 80’s. This was, of course, right when the Doug’s were just starting to break out of Australia and invade the UK.
Hiding it for as long as possible – right through until well after the Doug’s had gone their separate ways, it wasn’t till a reunion of sorts, on Paul McDermott’s highly successful program, Good News Week, that Ferguson came clean and revealed his diagnosis to the world.
Despite the content, Tim did not allow for pity in his carefully mapped out show. He mocked himself mercilessly – as well as Paul McDermott, Richard Fidler, bald men, millennials and anyone who he felt deserved a tongue lashing. No-one was safe, and the audience was clearly enthralled as they cheered, whooped and even shed a tear or two.
Ferguson is a gifted performer, and while his show is done entirely seated and involved limited movement (producer/presenter, Carrie Hardie and director – Marc Gracie – assisted Ferguson to the stage and adjusted the microphone) it was entirely possible to hear the story, without focusing too much on the obviously crippling disease. Interspersed footage – right back from the clip that got his father fired, to his cult-hit ‘Don’t Forget your Tooth Brush’ to some touching moments from his ABC documentary series – were cleverly interjected, assisting with the story, and giving Ferguson a few moments to catch his breath.
This was exceptional show, performed by an obviously talent performer. As he embarks on an Australian Tour of this new work, whilst continuing to do his own Comedy Workshops across the globe, we can only hope that his body allows his quick witted, skilled mind to keep on keeping on. Goodness knows the rest of the world needs to see him and his incredible outlook on life.