Despite having Multiple Sclerosis, Tim Ferguson’s life and career continues to roll along.
Reviewed at The National Wine Centre on 10 March 2019
Presented by Carrie Hardie for Serious Comedy
From the anarchic Doug Anthony All Stars comedy troupe to a solo career as a comedian and television host, Tim Ferguson has been in the spotlight for decades. With the onset of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) over his latter years, he’s now turned his attention to teaching comedy, producing films, corporate gigs and podcasting.
Like an iceberg, there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface and A Fast Life On Wheels is a verbal memoir that gives us a glimpse of his life. He begins with his father, a war photographer during the Vietnam war, rather than focussing on his own childhood specificially. This soon moves into discussions about working for the ABC, the formation of the Doug Anthony All Stars and the beginnings of his condition. He explains MS in simple terms, demystifying it for the masses.
Ferguson’s one-hour talk is accompanied by some video projections of various moments in his life, including his 2010 public announcement about having MS on Paul McDermott’s Good News Week, scenes from his Channel Nine game show Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, and his brain MRI where he learned he had MS. The sound quality of the projections is quite poor, but enough can be mustered from the audio to piece together what needs to be told.
Ferguson himself is an articulate, engaging and funny speaker. It’s important to note that this is not a comdy show, although the laughs are plentiful. He tells a good yarn, engages beautifully with the audience, and provides a lot of insight into many subjects, not just about himself.
As much as the National Wine Centre is a vibrant and welcoming hub for the Adelaide Fringe, it is not a performance-friendly space for an arts festival. Their regular functions and audiences are generally much more subdued than a typical Fringe offering. Foyer noise and other shows drowned out Ferguson each time the automatical doors to the Exhibition Hall slid open. The flat floor and low stage also made Ferguson difficult to see, given he was seated in his wheelchair for the duration. For those not able to sit near the front, sit in the back row or outer chairs so you can stand up to see.
A Fast Life On Wheels is a fast hour of storytelling, laughs and much-needed education on living with a disability. Ferguson embraces life and shows us how we can all do the same.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Venue: Exhibition Hall, The National Wine Centre, cnr Hackney and Botanic Rd, Adelaide
Season: until 17 March 2019
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $28 – $32