7 TOUGH QUESTIONS for Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson gets grilled about his Bestselling Memoir, “Carry a Big Stick: A funny, fearless life of friendship, laughter and MS”.

1.What inspired you to write your memoir?

People were owed answers to my chaotic life. I wanted those answers too. Plus, the publisher paid for lunch.

2. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your memoir?

A laugh would be good. And hopefully, people will feel stronger about the challenges they face. But a laugh would be the best prize of all.

3. What do you think is harder – writing a memoir or writing comedy?

Writing a comic memoir is harder than both. You see, turning a life into a memoir is awkward, personally and politically. And chucking comic rocks at hypocrites, scoundrels, preachers, loafers and losers is dangerous, socially and physically.

But exploiting your own life for laughs demands an emotional distance from the subject matter that’s nigh impossible.

4. How do you manage different writing projects – stand-up, TV, columns, memoir. Is there a different approach for each one?

The formats change but each one demands I answer three simple questions:
What’s it about?
What’s it really about?
And what’s scary about that?
Answer these and all things are possible.

5. What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a daily writing routine?

I have a routine but it’s not daily. I take days to think, think, think. Then I sit down and it comes in a rush. Then I go blank for a day. Nothing. My pen is post-coital. Then I cut, cut, cut.

It would be lovely to write every day, but I have to live in the real world.

6. What’s your advice to writers of comedy?

– Stop trying to be smart. Just tell the truth.
– STOP trying to impress inner-city dramaturgs (they don’t respect comedy because they don’t understand true writing, poor darlings).
– STOP being a snob. IQ’s don’t grow in universities and they don’t follow money.
– STOP saying ‘dumbing down’. It’s meaningless and makes you appear pretentious. No one is smarter than a million viewers.
– STOP thinking you’re funny. The broad audience knows what’s funny better than you do.

7. And advice for anyone considering writing a memoir?

Make it a 3-Act story. I dare you! Loose strings of anecdotes are for messiahs and drunks.

You can buy Carry a Big Stick by Tim Ferguson at all good bookstores.

TIM FEB 2012 A