In the 1980s, the Doug Anthony All Stars (DAAS) trio were a renowned shock-comedy band. Reunited now, the passage of time has left them as a self-described 'pensioner, cripple and human being'. Lead singer Paul McDermott performs a purposely uncomfortable attitude towards his bandmates that, combined with parody songs and stand-up, highlights a society in which people are allowed to 'fade out' once they leave the realm of healthy prime of life.
Tim Ferguson delivers monologue material from the wheelchair he uses due to his multiple sclerosis. He explains about the different medications he takes and their effects. Before the show, he tells us, he has taken three times his normal dose of the drug that creates a euphoric (at times orgasmic) state.
We see Ferguson's struggles as he tries to play the triangle; we watch McDermott's repeated attempts to straighten his friend's seating posture; Paul Livingston (aka Flacco, an established outsider character) has just turned 60, and is largely ignored. In various ways, DAAS highlight areas where members' physical abilities have been changed, lost or retained.
The lines between theatrically constructed and authentic behaviour are blurred, but the message about treating each other as fellow humans regardless of physical deterioration emerges clearly as the show moves beyond its initial frame of a traditional comedy reunion tour.
Much of the content revolves around sexual and scatalogical themes and language, which also points a finger at social reactions to the physical realities of life. Jokes exploring taboos, a lack of political correctness, and the ability to cause offense are all components of the show.
At times, Ferguson imitates more severe disability than his own current state. He discusses how he constructs his public identity in relation to societal expectations. 'I'm not making fun of MS', he tells us, 'I'm making fun of people with MS'. This provocative production drives home the point: it's the 'people' that matter, above and beyond their physical condition. (KK)
Doug Anthony All Stars (DAAS) Live On Stage ran at 22:00 at Pleasance Courtyard until August 14th - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/doug-anthony-all-stars-daas-live-on-stage
Tim Ferguson, his MS and comedy career: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=13dmKHZT8y8
Interview with Tim Ferguson: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C22mL6MXFGw
On MS medications: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS/Medications
'Old Age and Ageism, Impairment and Ableism: Exploring the Conceptual and Material Connections': http://www.yorku.ca/mandell/courses/4680/pdf/Overall%202006%20PDF%20file.pdf
'Swearing - A Cross-Cultural Linguistic Study': https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/SS/article/download/18396/18137n
'10 Ways Social Taboos About Sex, Drugs and Death Scare Us from Learning the Truth': http://www.alternet.org/culture/10-ways-social-taboos-about-sex-drugs-and-death-scare-us-learning-truth