Finding Humour In MS: Reflections On “Carry A Big Stick” by Tim Ferguson

Written by on March 4th, 2014 – 2 Comments

For anybody outside of Australia (including myself), you’ve probably never heard of Tim Ferguson. According to his website, “Tim Ferguson is a widely acclaimed comedian, writer and producer. He’s toured the world performing stand-up and musical comedy, co-writing dozens of live stage comedy shows and light entertainment programmes.”

Most famous for his involvement with the Australian comedy super-troupe, the Doug Anthony All Stars, that went on to experience superstardom in the sketch and musical comedy world. Be forewarned, the songs the Doug Anthony All Stars are famous for are not exactly appropriate for children or the lighthearted.

So why am I writing about this Australian comedy legend? Because recently I read his memoir “Carry A Big Stick – Laughter & MS” and it’s truly opened my eyes.

Truth be told, I didn’t understand half of it, because I’m not Australian so references to Australian geography, stars and pop culture was lost on me. Nonetheless, it was very cool to learn about his journey from a busker on the streets to fame.

However the most interesting part of his book, for me, is where he talks openly and frankly about living with multiple sclerosis.

Tim chronicles his journey from the beginnings where he started to experience symptoms such as numbness, loss of balance, chronic fatigue, etc that he chalked up to overworking himself. “I could barely stand straight. I couldn’t feel the hands I was shaking.”

He takes us through his diagnosis. “It was as if everything had slowed, as though I was watching someone else’s car crash.”

Ferguson walks us through his decision-making process to hide it from certain people, and to come out with to others. My favourite part is where he goes on a long explanation of what multiple sclerosis is complete with comparisons to “a bonkbuddy who gets emotional” and “a Swedish backpacker.”

Obviously, I can’t even dare to recount his story because 1, it’s his story to tell, 2, you should go buy his book and read it yourself and 3, he is “Australia’s foremost narrative comedy teacher” and so his storytelling rivals mine in comedy.

He talks a lot about his teaching style as a professor. Now as someone who wants to pursue academia for the rest of my life his words of wisdom truly resonated with me. He was able to create his own theories of comedy and be a trailblazer in his field. I can only hope that my academic studies one day reach that goal.

Tim taught me you can laugh in the face of MS, and it doesn’t always have to be serious. For me, finding the humour in my MS has been an excellent way of dealing with it. It’s been a great way to work through it. It’s provided a different perspective for me. Sure, sometimes I get so frustrated with it that I just want to breakdown and cry. (But to be perfectly honest that also happens every time I watch Glee.) But sometimes, I just want to joke about it and take a light hearted approach to it.

Yeah, he replied to me. I’m kind of a big deal.

Any recommendations for books about MS? Any stories about how you’ve found humour in your MS? Share either in the comments below.

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2 Responses

  1. Miles says:

    I also read this book. Such a good read. You forgot to mention his connection to Canada! His wife is Canadian and following him on twitter (@withtimferguson) it seems he visits Canada often! Would be great to hear him speak!

  2. F.U.MS says:

    I was actually looking for a new book to read and now I know which one I will get. Thanks for letting us know about Tim Ferguson.

    Great post Lioncoeur!

    Aaron

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