Tim Ferguson’s masterclass proves the world needs comedy to survive

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Tim Ferguson’s masterclass proves the world needs comedy to survive

Tim Ferguson
Words by Marnie Vinall

Veteran comedian Tim Ferguson is hot off the heels of his last comedy tour, A Fast Life on Wheels, where he confronts living with Multiple Sclerosis and what living in a wheelchair is really like.

However, true to its title, the show notes that Ferguson’s diagnosis hasn’t slowed down his career but rather sped it up.

Through his show, Ferguson wants people to take whatever troubles they have in life, hold them up to the light and find a way to laugh at them. The message of the show, as Ferguson describes, is to “stop whinging and get on with it. Whatever it is, just enjoy it. Even if it’s bad, find a way to enjoy it”.

In short, the comedian wants everyone to have a good laugh and enjoy the ups and downs of their lives. So, it’s not surprising, then, that he wants to teach others how to produce laughter with his own two-day comedy writing masterclass.

Ferguson says he feels the need to teach people interested in comedy how it works because there’s a huge lack of education when it comes to the skill.

“I started teaching narrative comedy screenwriting because nobody else in Australia was teaching it apart from RMIT. You can’t learn it at Melbourne University, Melbourne Writer’s Club or The Australian Writers Guild – you can’t learn it anywhere,” he explains.

“But, I’d been to the UK and America, and I’d seen that they have comedy teachers who teach you how it works.”

And it’s not as if comedy isn’t something the world is crying out for. As Ferguson tells, “Comedy is really important. Melbourne International Comedy Festival is Australia’s biggest ticketed festival”.

So, the comedian is travelling across the country to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to fill that skills gap. “It’s nothing to be scared of, you just have to know how it works,”  he claims.

“It’s a craft. It can be taught. It’s like pottery, dentistry or dance. At the end of the day, comedy is a craft; you can learn it and practice it.”

And who better to take on the job of training Australia’s next best comedians than an international comedian, screenwriter and filmmaker? Especially one who’s already trained thousands of writers around the globe at NYU, AFTRS, VCA and Screen Academy of Scotland, and written a book about it too: The Cheeky Monkey: Writing Narrative Comedy.

So, who are the classes for? Well, anyone who has an idea for a piece of media, whether it be a play, web series or stand up routine. “It’s for anyone who’s got a love of comedy and wants to know how it works,” Ferguson claims.

Even if you’re naturally gifted at comedy, Ferguson says he can help you expand your skills, learn how to write comedy for the screen, develop comedic characters and develop your own funny dialogue using ancient principles. “If you’re writing comedy, I can save you a year of wondering around and guessing, just by telling ‘this is how it actually works’. It’s like trying to fix a car. Eventually you will fix it but it will take ten times as long,” he explains.

At the end of the day, Ferguson just wants everyone to laugh more. “The thing people want is comedy. People want to laugh. So, I teach people how to do that,” he notes.

“People want comedy and I think it’s important that old people like me tell them how it works.”

Catch Ferguson’s comedy writing masterclass in Melbourne on Saturday December 14 and Sunday December 15 at The Wheeler Centre. Tickets are on sale now via Trybooking.