Doug Anthony Allstars: Tim Ferguson

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Doug Anthony Allstars: Tim Ferguson

“We’ve always had a principle where we have 100 per cent freedom and zero support. So if you go out on a limb, and the limb breaks, you better learn how to fly – I spend most of my time in free-fall,” Tim Ferguson says.
While Tim may jest of the ‘one-your-own’ atmosphere of the stage, the Doug Anthony Allstars crew have actually developed an uncanny sense to predict each others’ actions
“Paul McDermott knows when I’m going to make a fool of myself and he gives me all the freedom I need. Paul Livingston can read my mind – it doesn’t take him long, just a couple of seconds and he slips to the back to see what happens,” he says.
“So our dynamic is built upon simple principles so we can walk on stage and it doesn’t matter what happens, even if the others are about to screw up we all capitalise on that.”
Screwing up is part of the game, but even in the comedic world screwing up may come at a high risk. In the past the Doug Anthony Allstars group have been banned from TV in Japan and Germany – the latter due to a skit about a Mexican Hitler – and cheating death in Scotland’s Bear Pit riot.
And while many comedians may teeter around the edges of being ‘politically correct’, there’s no limit, no line or anything of the sort stopping the group from acquiring their next laugh.
“The function of comedy – like a drama or even tragedy – is not to show fear in the face of subject matter. So if you can have a dramatic story about some social problem, then that story is no more valid than a comic one about exactly the same thing,” Tim says.
“It’s important that people laugh at the dark stuff and the scary stuff. It’s in the vital human function, so there are no ‘no-go’ areas. Even a film like Schindler’s List has jokes that are clearly written narrative jokes. The audience is supposed to laugh because laughter is one of the emotional responses that we all need to go through to deal with the crimes of the Nazis.”
“Humour is really designed to make people laugh and laughter comes from surprise, surprise and anxiety. When you put the two of those things together, chances are if you do it right, you’ll get the laughter response. In fact, ISIS don’t like jokes about ISIS, and they will kill people to stop jokes about ISIS happening – as we saw in Paris. So what’s the thing that scares them the most, is the same thing that was scaring Tony Abbott for quite some time: ridicule.”
There’s a certain admiration in the Doug Anthony Allstars care factor level, and clearly with a list of sold out shows behind them, the public equally appreciate their habit of approaching subjects other comedians wouldn’t dare touch.
“The show and the act has always been generated to create hype – and it still works. All these crazy kids hang around the hotel because the hype and they want to be part of something that makes them feel special,” he says.
“We’re trying to tap into a zeitgeist and it seems to be working.”
While most of the Doug Anthony Allstars fans filling seats and hanging around backstage for the chance to see them are misfits, Tim can’t help but comment on the rise of hipsters.
“The trouble with hipsters is that they’re so original as a group it would be great if they were original as individuals. Hipsters as a group are kind of like the mob in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, ‘We’re all individuals, we are all different’ and they just aren’t,” he says.
While I reassure Tim that – unfortunately – Geelong is a town also afflicted by hipsters, he still expresses his love for the coastal wonder and a place where they spent many of their early days.
“Geelong is like our spiritual home. We went busking in Geelong a lot when we first moved to Melbourne and Geelong was where we polished a lot of our material when we were babies. People gave us coins and they’d stand around and it was kind of pre-mall, and now people have gone and put a mall in there!” he says.
“And the pier became more than just a bunch of sticks with a house on it, it’s a whole different thing now. It’s part of our folklore. We always had fun in Geelong, they’re fun people and welcoming and they dress better than Melbourne people because they don’t try so hard.”
When & Where: The Capital, Bendigo – May 15 & GPAC, Geelong – May 16
Written by Amanda Sherring