INTERVIEW: DOUG ANTHONY ALL STARS RETURN WITH NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

Legendary Australian musical comedy group The Doug Anthony All Stars (DAAS) are back again with a brand new show.

After reuniting in 2014, Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and Paul Livingstone (A.K.A Flacco) have devised a wicked new production, Near Death Experience.

Playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre on July 7, DAAS have ensured this new chapter to their risqué musical antics is packed with their signature outrageous assault of death, sex, violence and pure evil.

Speaking to The Upside News recently, Tim Ferguson (the prettiest of the group – Ed) says the show is just as angry as the comedy trio.

“Near Death Experience is a new Doug Anthony All Stars show and it has all the songs and misplaced humour that we’ve always applied,” he says.

“It’s a highly emotional show for us. Our shows are always very emotional for us. It’s very emotional to devise, write and then finally perform one of our shows because it’s how we deal with our anger.”

When I spoke with him in 2014 (for a different publication), Tim said the group’s reunion after 20 years had not made them any nicer.

“There’s no hiding the fact that the Doug Anthony All Stars are old men now,” Ferguson said. “We went past grumpy about a decade ago. And we are now walking on stage with a cold, abiding fury. We are angrier and ruder and empirically more offensive than we have ever been.”

But could it be possible that Near Death Experience is ruder than their 2014 show, which was delightfully and outrageously provocative?

“Oh yes, Libby. We’re worse now, because one of the imperatives of comedy is anger. The best comedians are angry, even if they seem very polite, jokey and jovial. You won’t have to think too hard to see what their bugbear is. You may find it’s old bugbears, like dealing with the school bullies who picked on them, it can be political bugbears where they’re sick and tired of The Greens beating their puny, ill fed chests! It might be they’re generally angry about hypocrisy in politics, relationships, sex relations, power systems, education and health, and of course hypocrisy in family and the very meaning of the word ‘family’,” Tim says.

“Felicity Ward talks about hypocrisies in romantic relationships, and her ideas start with pointing out something is wrong; most of the time talking about her own experiences, or what we can only believe are her own experiences. But it starts with anger, even though she is so smiley and beautiful and likeable. We cover all of those topics, and we are neither smiley nor likeable.”

One of the topics that gets an airing in Near Death Experience is porn, and the sheer amount of porn available these days.

“We have new songs and one of those is about our generation dealing with the porn tsunami that has washed over modern society. Younger people were born into a world of porn and so very swiftly they work out their relationship with it, most of the time to find it not so interesting,” Tim says.

“But for old men like ourselves, there’s porn everywhere! There’s porn right there on the phone on your desk, Libby. You don’t have to do anything to it, you just look at it and there’ll be porn on it. The song is about that very thing. It’s also about porn weariness. Psychologists say after a while, people become numb to porn, so their tastes become curlier and wilder. So it’s not too long before you’ll need to see a supernova explode in outer space before you can even get a tingle.”

It is at this point Tim and I start talking about religion, abstinence and why nuns and priests can’t have sex.

“See how easily we get off topic, Libby? This is why you love interviews with the Doug Anthony All Stars, isn’t it? It’s not really about Doug Anthony All Stars at all!” Tim says, which gets us somewhat back on track.

After wrapping up the Australian shows, DAAS will take Near Death Experience to Edinburgh.

But before that, they will be performing for us here in Adelaide, and the group are looking forward to visiting our terrifying city.

“Adelaide is on the edge of civility. It’s still civil, and it thinks it’s civil because it has an arts festival, but that’s like saying you’re sexy because you have a t-shit with the word ‘sexy’ written on it,” Tim says.

“It’s the city of empty churches. You have 792 churches within one square mile in the centre of town and they’re always empty. There’s also a great sense of danger when we arrive in Adelaide. It doesn’t go away until we leave alive. That danger is great fun to play with. It’s like there are entire suburbs called Wolf Creek.”

And while they may be looking over their shoulders on their brief stint in Adelaide, the stars of Friday Night Live (ITV), The Big Gig (ABC) and their sci-fi sitcom DAAS Kapital are set to give us everything we know and love from the team who brought us songs like ‘Dead Elvis’, ‘Commies for Christ’ and ‘I Want to Spill the Blood of a Hippy’.

“This one hurts. We’re taking it to London. At once stage during the show, you’re going to be offended, but we have people walk out 45 minutes into a show and say, ‘That’s it! We’re done!’ and we think, so everything we’ve done up until this point has been fine? We don’t push boundaries. We just ignore them because pushing them means acknowledging there are boundaries.”

You’ve been warned, Adelaide. So hurry up and book your tickets HERE.

Interview by Libby Parker
Photo supplied