STAND-UP comedian Tim Ferguson will be sitting down when he delivers a hilarious, tragicomic routine about life in a wheelchair at this year’s Fringe World.
“It’s okay to laugh at this stuff, because laughter is the first step to understanding,” the 54-year-old says.
Ferguson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was just 19, but it didn’t stop him carving out a successful comedy career on TV. Eventually the debilitating illness took its toll, and he had to quit the Doug Anthony All Stars in 1994.
“I was working on TV and it’s a good idea not to have any imperfections,” he says.
Ferguson says his condition has made him extremely focused.
“Everybody’s got something. For me MS is a reminder that a clock is ticking and that you may not have as much time to do the things you want to do as everybody else.
“So I confront people with their own mortality; tell them to hurry up with their lives.
“Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock is ticking.”
It’s an ethos Ferguson has embraced as he juggles being an author, filmmaker, TV host, columnist, comedian, and screenwriting teacher at New York University.
Life on wheels has really moved up a notch, he says: “I don’t suffer MS – it suffers me.”
But it’s not all chuckles and Ferguson is a patron of MS Australia, and despite his boyish good looks he doesn’t want to be a “hood ornament for MS”.
“I’m working on promoting employment for people with disabilities and getting young people with disabilities out of aged care facilities. These are the serious issues I’m turning a spotlight on in a humorous way.”
Often young people with MS end up in aged care and Ferguson is lobbying politicians to provide more options.
“It doesn’t cost any more for the government to have young people in care with [other] young people,” he says.
A Life on Wheels is on at the State Theatre, January 31-February 3, and at Fremantle’s Little Creatures, February 1. Tickets at http://www.fringeworld.com.au
Or you can sign up for a comedy writing workshop with Tim Ferguson at The Laugh Resort in Yagan Square on February 3.
To book go to http://www.trybooking.com
By JENNY D’ANGER