The television industry, he says, is full of producers who say âyes, we need more disabled people on the crew but no lighting, okay, no directing. Not for design. And by the time they get to the end, maybe they get a weird role, when they’re capable of so much more.
This must change.
âOtherwise, what’s the point of meeting up and having small meetings to agree ‘yes, we must support people with disabilities’? You can do just about anything. We just need to be seated first.
It’s a zinger. And it’s sharp. Ferguson denies, despite the evidence of his career, wanting to shock people with the show, which he has been shooting since 2018.
“It’s up to them to be shocked,” he said.
He’s not even there to offend.
“The offense is something they brought with them in a backpack.”
Instead, he says, it’s about using comedy to talk about things people prefer not to talk about.
He sees a “real fear” in the comedy industry today. Performers fear fate of Fringe 2019 show Aisha the Australian geisha, who never saw the scene after “receiving a letter of complaint signed by 70 well-meaning people who hadn’t seen the show because they thought he was making fun of the Japanese, when in fact he mocked a native Australian who thought she might be a geisha, it was mocking One Nation voters.
Ferguson says he’s seen the show at previous festivals and found it hilarious.
âThe actors are nervous, but the job of comedy is to tackle the big topics. It must be something that people squeeze their sphincters on before entering the room, because they just don’t know how badly it is going to hurt their head, âhe says.
âThere is a great reluctance to talk about difficult issues and it goes to the heart of the comedy industry. Social media has made it a risky exercise for a comedian to walk (or roll) on stage and cover topics that no one wants to talk about.
Ferguson believes the comedy industry must be “shaken, its foundations must be destroyed.”
He thinks comedy should attract people, not exclude them. But he fears that, especially in the media, we are confusing the intention of an article with its impact.
âIt’s very important not to get distracted by the impact someone has with a comedy show, but to look at the intention: what is their purpose and what are they trying to sayâ¦ but for now, it seems like the impact is enough, that someone can say ‘take me away from this show because it affected me emotionally’.
Even in the current political climate, he is not afraid to talk about sedition and revolution, he says, “just because people are a little afraid.”
âRegardless of government, this is worth questioning and pushing. We don’t want to hang people in the town square, but it should be hard to rule … and disability is the next revolution.
Can he see himself at the head of the revolutionary crowd, flag in hand?
“No, I hope to be carried away.”