Doug Anthony Allstars’ Sydney Comedy Festival set at The Concourse in Chatswood was one of endurance. With Paul Livingston (AKA Flacco) stepping into Richard Fidler’s shoes as guitarist, only two remaining members of the original trio are left – Tim Ferguson, who developed multiple sclerosis in his early 20s, and Paul McDermott.
Despite describing themselves as “a pensioner, a cripple and a songwriter” in their final song of the night, DAAS are going down swinging, shining a light on questions of life and death, tolerance and racism, and youth and old age, all while making the slow descent into retirement.
A screen set up at the back of the stage heralded the beginning of the show. The first thing we saw was Ferguson sitting in a wheelchair with his head lolling around in silhouette: his illness was at the fore throughout the entire performance, and they didn’t shy away from it. “It’s great to be alive. Laugh it up, dirtbags,” he said early in the set; he would go on to describe his life of “burning, screaming pain” and being “ecstatically happy all the time even when [he watches] war films” – a side effect of his medication. McDermott continually referred to Ferguson as “a head in a chair” and joked about how he and Livingston had aged terribly.
McDermott continued to play the easy-to-anger tough guy of the group, while Ferguson moved away from embodying the vain, dashing twit of his youth to instead relying on slow-burning gags, including two poetry readings.
Although DAAS aren’t at the height of their careers any more, they still know how to make a room full of people fall into hysterics with their biting lyrics, satire and political commentary.
Doug Anthony Allstars played The Concourse on Friday April 28 as part of Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.