Tim Ferguson won’t let Multiple Sclerosis or political correctness stand in the way of his comedy

Tim Ferguson won’t let Multiple Sclerosis or political correctness stand in the way of his comedy

Words by Caitlin Hynes

Comedy has this enigmatic way of bringing people together and shining a light on what’s happening in the world, and what needs to change.

Tim Ferguson’s A Fast Life on Wheels has one sole purpose – to flick that switch and illuminate where you need to go.

With an influx of rave reviews after appearances in Perth and Adelaide, A Fast Life on Wheels has been described as a tragicomic of his personal battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and being wheelchair bound. But in reality, it seeks to be so much more than that. 

Featured as part of the 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, punters are bound to walk out of the show beaming from ear to ear, whilst also reflecting on where their own lives are headed. 

As Ferguson explains, A Fast Life on Wheels “is thin on one end, thicker in the middle, and thinner on the other end.”

“It’s a show about how to live your life to the best of your ability,” he says. “Everybody has got something in their way. You’ve got hipsters with their own personality and diet restrictions – basically the whole population of Northcote – who have this unwavering persistence to go on with life regardless of their restrictions.”

But this isn’t a mushy, watered down show mirroring the inspirational tones of Tony Robbins or Gary Vaynerchuk. True to his guns, Ferguson isn’t afraid to laugh at himself while also forcing his audience to take a good hard look at themselves – all in the name of comedy, of course. 

“Yes, I’ve got MS,” he begins. “Yes, it’s agonising, but we’ve all got something. Some people are just born stupid and ugly, but they don’t get stopped on the street to be told how brave they are.”

With a richness of experience in a plethora of fields, Ferguson would be on top of many lists as a key influential figure and mentor. With the irrefutable success of his instructional book The Cheeky Monkey, this hell-on-wheels hour of power is a testament to Ferguson’s knack for making audiences laugh and cry simultaneously. 

“I ask the audience to confront their own fears of the world, because at the end of the day, the only thing that stops us is our own fears. In 50 years, you’ll be buckets of ash, so get your act together.

“It’s the tick-fucking-tock message. Comedy can make people do funny things and it’s the job of comedy to switch the light on. I want people to walk away with a smile on their face and a new plan.” 

With an admiration for comedians including Steph Tisdell, Sarah Silverman and Dave Chapelle, Ferguson also takes a stance on political correctness gone mad. Using the phrase ‘wokers versus jokers’ in his recent article for The Age, Ferguson argues that “people often ask ‘what are you going to do about political correctness?’. But instead they should be asking ‘what is political correctness going to do about comedy?’.”

“Comedians don’t have a problem with political correctness,” Ferguson explains. “It’s the comedians who point at someone’s sensitive toes and ask which blunt instrument they want to be hit with.

“The audience doesn’t expect a disclaimer before a joke. They have to be open to seeing who they are, through new eyes. Comedy offers new perspectives to look at old problems.

“All comedy is truth, whether we like it or not. Comedy brings its own floodlights, because we don’t have the time to wait for the sun.”

A Fast Life on Wheels will feature as part of MICF from Thursday March 26 to Sunday April 5 at Fairfax Studio. Tickets via the MICF website.