Carry a Big Stick: A funny, fearless life of friendship, laughter and MS
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A funny, poignant and inspirational story of widely acclaimed comedian, writer and producer, Tim Ferguson.
Tim Ferguson was a star of the international comedy circuit. Along with Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler he was part of the edgy, provocative and very funny Doug Anthony Allstars (DAAS). In 1994 they were at the height of their powers, performing in a season at the Criterion Theatre on Piccadilly Circus. The three mates, who began busking on the streets of Canberra a decade earlier, had achieved their ambition to become the self-styled rock stars of comedy.
Then, all of a sudden, Tim woke up one morning and his whole left side wouldn't work. He'd had a lurking suspicion that something was wrong and after more episodes he went to a doctor thinking he'd be told to change his diet and get more sleep. It wasn't so simple. An eventual diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) meant an end to the frenetic, high-energy life he was living.
Carry a Big Stick is a chance for Tim to tell his story. He wants to make people laugh but also give inspiration to all the people doing it hard. A lot of people keep MS to themselves because it's invisible. In Tim's case, he has the stick. 'It's such a visible sign that something's happened; it's just easier if people know.'
Carry a Big Stick meanders through Tim's life, and explains how the boy who went to nine schools in 13 years got used to saying, 'Hi, I'm the new kid'. It will detail his ambitions to become an actor and how the Doug Anthony Allstars were born and went on to become what Rolling Stone called 'The 3 amigos from hell'. Diagnosis changed a lot of things but Tim's quick wit and sense of humour weren't affected. This inspiring memoir shows us that you can laugh in the face of adversity.
of my monkey brain, that being an actor would not be enough for my parents. My father had clambered over corpses and under hails of bullets to deliver the truth to a sleeping world. And I was going to wear tights? Recite other people’s truths and breakfast menus? Another path was required, but what could it be? Being industrious about my uselessness, I formed a theatre company with three guys. There was Ian Hagan, an irascible Irish lad with karate skills; Neil Pigot, a rangy impresario with a
wider world. Paul delivered open contempt for the entire audience to the act, and I brought charm, joviality and a school prefect’s haughty self-regard. Rich gave both of us licence to be objectionable by being wide-eyed and optimistic but somehow pitiful. Any of these traits in isolation would have spelled a limited shelf life for the act but together they produced a quirky dynamic. The Naughty, the Haughty and the Dimwit were well-tested archetypes, applied through the ages by comedy trios
our home-boy stares into the abyss and then turns to seek a way around it… Scene 1: Running with scissors Scene 2: Funky feelings Scene 3: Here’s Johnny! Scene 4: The One? Scene 5: Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush Scene 6: Don’t dream, it’s over Scene 7: Star Wars Scene 8: Playing with matches Scene 9: I can do this! Scene 10: The rabbit who saved me Scene 11: The Greeks, geeks and me Act IV In which our hero reinvents himself, gets the girl and wields his big stick Scene 1: Coming out
programmer/golfer. He was standing in his office sizing up a shot at a coffee mug lying beside his mini-bar. I took a seat and argued for the show while pounding my fist on the table (a habit I’d picked up from hanging around too many execs). ‘It rates, it’s funny and everyone’s talking about it,’ I said. ‘What else do you want?’ ‘Timmy, ol’ mate,’ said Robbo, ‘they’re saying it’s exploitation.’ ‘Exploitation?’ I pounded the table. ‘Toddlers can’t pronounce “exploitation”.’ ‘Nonetheless…’
they’re gone again. But just when you relax and think all is well, they return with a vengeance, making all sorts of wild declarations about who bought that CD and whether sharing a bubble bath was a clear sign this was a real relationship and who owns these underpants… ‘Over time, there’s a chance they will linger in odd ways – putting lead weights in your shoes, waking you with a tap that stops dripping when you wake but starts dripping as soon as you nod off. They’ll trip you up in the street