Tim Ferguson – Carry A Big Stick : A Funny, Fearless Life of Friendship, Laughter and MS.

By Colin Flaherty

Set out like a four act play (fitting in perfectly with his current career as lecturer in narrative comedy) Tim Ferguson’s autobiography covered his life in great detail. The first act covered his family background, the constant relocations and troublesome school life which went a long way in explaining his knack for comedy and its use as a defence mechanism. The larger than life characters in his family were lovingly sketched out for us through many amusing tales so that we grew to know them rather intimately as the book progressed.

Act two is where Tim began his life as a performer with his time in the Doug Anthony All Stars making up the bulk of his tale. Both on stage and off, it was quite a wild ride and reveals some amazing anecdotes. There are stories dispelling some misconceptions about their work which may be new to hardcore fans of The Dougs and his recollections of their material could possibly paint the group’s output in a different light for many. At numerous times the signs of MS rears its head, quite obvious warnings with the benefit of hindsight, but his strong work ethic forced the show to go on.

Ferguson’s post DAAS endeavours were covered next. After the juggernaut that was The Allstars, it’s easy to forget that Tim was just as busy during this time both in front of the camera and behind. The stories about the unsuccessful TV pilots developed by Tim and his associates were just as fascinating as the tales from his more well known work at the time including “Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush”, “Funky Squad”, “Unreal TV” and “Shock Jock”.

The way he finally went public about his MS and his change of career to focus on lecturing rounded out the book. He doesn’t pretend to offer advice to fellow sufferers; in fact he described it as an inconvenience rather than an affliction; but still relayed a positive message as he developed as a person and contributed to society in many ways he couldn’t have foreseen.

Through it all he downplayed his contributions, regularly heaping praise upon those around him. This allowed him to insert some amusing self-deprecation (often with the phrase ‘I’m not smart, I just sound smart’) but his brilliant colourful way with words contradicts this naivety at times. Following his own teachings, Tim wasn’t afraid to tell some tragic tales from his life to contrast against the general levity of his writing. Plenty of witty asides, self-depreciation and amusingly worded descriptions keep the mood light. Cheekily manipulating the reader, he alluded to some juicy details that he ultimately kept to himself. This interesting portrait of a man with many stories to tell was a joy to read.

Carry A Big Stick is published by Hachette Australia.