Adelaide Fringe

Interview: Tim Ferguson

Ben Stefanoff interviews Aussie comedian Tim Ferguson about his career, having MS and his upcoming Adelaide Fringe show

Tim Ferguson has been entertaining the masses for many years through TV, theatre, movies, and stand-up comedy. The quick-witted performer has appeared as part of The Doug Anthony All Stars, Good News Week, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, and countless other TV shows, but it was the short-lived TV series Funky Squad that I first came across Tim.

“We were making ‘Funky Squad’ in summer, and those polyester suits just don’t breathe. I really felt sorry for people who do acting for a living!” Tim said when I caught up with him recently and professed my love for the show.

This year, Tim will be bringing his new show Smashing Life – Motivation for Idiots! to the Adelaide Fringe. I was curious to hear how Tim got his start in the comedy industry.

“It just happened accidentally. Most of the time, people end up being comedians because everything else failed, and it’s the one thing you’re good at. I started busking on the street with Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler, The Doug Anthony All Stars, and it was just the best way to get a crowd. When you get a crowd, you get more money, so the next time you try to make more noise and make more people laugh. It grew organically. Although, I know that there are people who say in primary school, “I want to be a comedian when I grow up!” And good on them for making comedy their career choice. When I started in comedy, it really was the last resort.”

A lot of comedy acts use songs as a tool to drive their material. I asked Tim why he thinks music and comedy work so well together.

“The great thing about doing musical comedy is that nobody can hear the silences when the gags don’t work! The song just keeps rolling along. Nobody notices that no-one is laughing because there is a nice song to listen to. In musical comedy, the music is camouflage.”

In 2019 Tim brought his critically acclaimed show A Fast Life On Wheels to the Adelaide Fringe, and several of his recent shows have been based around his life and diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. I asked Tim how important it is to bring Multiple Sclerosis to the public forefront.

“Not at all. That’s my blunt short answer.

“Let me explain. People talk about raising awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. Everyone is aware of Multiple Sclerosis. We all read books when we were in primary school to raise money for it. So, I don’t think anything I’ve done has made people go, “Oh! Right! So, it’s really bad!” It’s just one of dozens of difficult disabling conditions. The most important thing for me is to go, “Ok, I’ve got this thing and it’s eating my tiny little brain alive, but I am forging on. I’m powering on and getting stuff done. I’m making a movie, I’m on tour, last year I was heading to America to go on a tour. It’s more important, despite the subject matter, to show that you cannot so much overcome bigger adversities, but overcome the little adversities that face you every single day. I don’t really care that much about MS. Everyone has something. You know ugly people have to live in our society, knowing that they are ugly. Some of them are ugly and bald, but they power on, they never stop, despite how many times we beg them not to.”

Tim’s new show Smashing Life – Motivation for Idiots will be making its way to this year’s Adelaide Fringe.

“Motivational speakers and books are very good at talking us up the hill. They tell us to focus, to persist; they all have great messages. But there is also a downside to motivation, which is, what if it doesn’t work? What if you feel motivated and do all this stuff, but what if you, like 50% of small businesses, fail? What do you do? So ‘Smashing Life’ is about a reassessment of how motivation works, because motivation is a feeling, but it’s not a strategy. So, I’ve come up with a new one-step strategy for everybody. I can’t tell you what it is, because you have to come and see the show, because that’s how motivation works. The first person to make money out of motivation is the guy doing the motivating. There’s a one-step plan that is especially built for idiots like us.”

Catch Tim between March 9 and 21 at 6.30pm in The Virago, Gluttony, and find out what his new one-step strategy is! Bookings can be made through FringeTix, or via

Interview by Ben Stefanoff

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