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.
busking or crashing open-mic sessions. We played from dawn till dawn, anywhere we could, because that’s the only way to do well in your first appearance at Edinburgh. We discovered there were just two things you needed to succeed at the festival: 1. You have to be good; and 2. You have to work like the devil. If it helps, I’d also advise treating it like the world’s most torturous weight-loss program. We played anytime and anywhere. No public toilet, male or female, was safe from our musical
weren’t driven by homeland fame in the same way I was. Paul’s core drive was to create, create, create. Richard was driven to expand his knowledge of history, politics and the media. In my quest to have the whole of Australia know who we were, I happened on the idea that we should write a love-letter to Liz Hayes, the Today show host at the time. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. Unassuming, composed and articulate, Liz Hayes represented what I told Paul and Rich
solo candidates are the way of the future.’ DAAS loved being front-page news and this time it wasn’t total bullshit. The front cover of The Bulletin had a big impact on people’s awareness of our campaign. Our weekly ranting campaign speeches were suddenly seen as newsworthy. Interview requests flooded in and we covered them all. ‘Anne’ found that much of his print media was accompanied by a sidenote on my latest tail-twist. He was not happy, but what could he do? I was about to find out. One
serious, Timothy, very serious.’ I felt I was being scolded. He knew I was a comedian, so perhaps these words were a preemptive strike should my sense of humour surface again. But I wasn’t smiling. I frowned. ‘How serious?’ ‘It’s hard to say.’ This was the first ‘It’s hard to say’ I was to receive in a long line of people finding things hard to say, a line that continues today. How much further the line goes is hard to say. ‘I can’t be sure at this stage, but you need to undergo a lot more
suddenly the screen went blank. ‘Oh no,’ I said, ‘we’ve lost contact. Maybe we can get her back later in the show.’ ‘Yes,’ said the lady, disappointed. ‘Or maybe you can turn around and say hello to her.’ And her penfriend appeared on the roundabout. It all seemed like such a good idea at the time. The band was fanfaring, the penfriend came out onto the set and the crowd went nuts. The two ladies hugged for the first time ever. Even I became quite emotional at this point, loving the magic