As the Australian Summer comes to a close, Doug Anthony All stars send their royal greetings from the perennial windy, bleak and wet Scotland, where they are currently whipping Edinburgh Fringe Festival goers into a frenzy – not at all diminished by 25 years off the Edinburgh circuit.
To celebrate their huge success and sell out audiences in Edinburgh and London, the tour de force that is DAAS will stage their new show, Near Death Experience, at Coffs Harbour Jetty Memorial Theatre Friday 7 and Saturday 8 April 2017. Currently playing to some of the toughest crowds found anywhere in the world, DAAS are dripping with four and five star reviews dragging them around their UK tour in their tour bus, stowing them haphazardly in their overhead luggage and carting them all back to Australia.
The Doug Anthony All Stars are undoubtedly one of Australia’s finest and most original comedic acts. DAAS’ darkly anarchic, revolutionary approach to comedy captured the zeitgeist of the ’80s and ’90s. The trio behind the comedy – Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler – began busking on the streets of Canberra in the early 1980s. “We started as buskers, because it was an easy way to make money,” Ferguson said. “We discovered that if we were funny, we could get more money; and if we were noisy, we could draw a crowd. It was a pretty simple idea: make a lot of noise, draw a crowd, make them laugh, and let the cash roll in … It’s the formula we based our entire career on.” From the streets of Canberra, the trio ventured to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987, where they “managed to make enough noise and cause enough trouble to get noticed”.
“We were invited to appear on Friday Night Live on Channel Four, which was hosted by Ben Elton and pretty much the coolest place to be,” Ferguson said. “Until then the Australian media hadn’t paid that much attention to us … but then, we hadn’t paid a whole lot of attention to the Australian media, to be honest.” From UK TV to The Big Gig in Australia, DAAS developed a cult following which led to their own TV show, DAAS Kapital (which was banned in Japan and Germany), and extensive touring until 1994, when the trio made a surprise announcement that they were disbanding.
“At that time I was too broken to even think it was possible to come back,” Ferguson said. It later emerged that Ferguson had been living with Multiple Sclerosis for several years. “There was a decade where I didn’t tell anyone,” he said.
“Then my left leg went wonky, and I started using a walking stick. I spoke to a mate of mine who asked me, ‘What’s worse? Keeping it to yourself or telling people about it?’… It was after that I started telling people the truth.”
In 1995, Ferguson hit the Australian airwaves with Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, while Paul McDermott quickly became a household name as the presenter of the wildly popular Good News Week, first on ABC before moving to Channel 10.
After a sold out live show for the DAAS Kapital DVD release in 2013, the trio reformed, with Paul Livingston (AKA “Flacco”) replacing Fidler. “We’ve been performing a show called Reunion. Rebirth, which we’ll be performing at the Melbourne Comedy Festival before debuting our new show, and Near Death Experience, which is the show we’re bringing to Coffs Harbour,” Ferguson said. “We cover some great comedic topics, like sex, death, war and hypocrisy… given that we’re so much older and closer to death ourselves, I’m sure it will be a good dose of comedic reality.”
Since their rebirth in 2013, DAAS have broken box-office records. Their Edinburgh success follows sell out shows across Australia, with new show Near Death Experience, an outrageous bombardment of death, sex, violence, music and more sex. In 2016, after a 25 year absence, DAAS returned to the UK, playing to sell-out crowds in Edinburgh and London, and bringing home the coveted “Spirit of the Fringe” award.
Their musical comedy is more wicked and dangerous than ever – an irreverent mixture of filthy faux pas, spirited singing, and social commentary – with two decades worth of fresh targets in sight. Wracked by illness and age, this trio has no time to waste. Speaking from Prague, Paul McDermott said, “Death approaches. We have nothing to lose.” Speaking from experience, Paul “Flacco” Livingston said, “Death is coming; look busy!”
DAAS revolutionised world comedy like nobody before or since. Now you can run screaming down memory lane with Australia’s most controversial comedy export.
WARNING: Violence. Horror themes. Sexual references. Mature. Adult images. Hypnotism. Extreme-conservative values. Be mildly unnerved, be very mildly unnerved.
Bookings for the Doug Anthony Allstars Near Death Experience Tour can be made directly with the Jetty Theatre Box Office
(02) 6648 4930