They baited audiences, kidnapped children while busking and sang about bestiality on TV. Twenty years on the cult comics are as brazen as ever
Throughout the ‘90s, Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler were as punk rock as musical comedy got, terrorising television audiences and storming Edinburgh with poisonous grins. Wouldn’t their former selves lambast a reunion tour?
“They would’ve been outraged,” Ferguson (the Pretty One) confirms. “The business-savvy side of us would’ve said, ‘It’s a good idea, but if anyone asks us now, we’re officially outraged’.”
Ferguson confirms upon reuniting (with egg-based life-form Flacco in Fidler’s seat), that their merciless prodding of PC sensibilities remains. “We’re still offensive,” he beams about earning gasps at their trial performance. “It was great to see that people can still buy a ticket to see us and have qualms.”
He even says it’s easier to retain an edge “because no one’s been offensive for ages”. After decrying the safeness of musicians and artists of today, he turns on comedians. “It has been some time since an audience has sat down to watch some comedy and seen someone burned in effigy as a joke. We’re back to remind people that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, literally”.
The reunion shows are a strange grab-bag of rewritten ditties, new tunes, ad-libbed rants, and a perverse slide-night featuring “secret dark stories of our sordid past, even some that I’d forgotten”. A little like an expanded version of 2013’s DVD launch shows for their lunatic ABC sitcom DAAS Kapital.
Fergusons’s still faintly baffled that the show was ever made. “It was so left-field that it was already outside the stadium and streaking down the street,” he says, quite proudly. “As quixotic acts go, DAAS Kapital had them every five seconds.”
Even while Flacco has been a career-long confidant, it’s a surprise that Fidler is absent. “Basically, he’s got a job,” Ferguson says of his nationally broadcast Conversation Hour radio show. “Why would he want to hang around Paul and I? We’ve managed to avoid that crippling yoke. He’d be wise to keep that job and not go bounding around the world, lurching from bar to bar, picking fights with people.”
For such a beloved trio of upstarts, it’s surprising to see very little of their legacy in current comedy. “There’s none!” Ferguson exclaims. “We did break ground, but then we pissed on it, which turned it into mud and every other comedian since has gone their own way.”
Considering their perverse and provocative attitude, the only comics able to resurrect the anarchic spirit of the Doug Anthony Allstars... are the Doug Anthony Allstars.