The Doug Anthony Allstars were an Australian musical comedy trio formed in the mid-1980s, which thrilled and insulted audiences in both Australia and the UK for eight years. Their aggressive style of comedy, together with catchy tunes and witty lyrics brought an original flavour of comedy to the stage and television screen.
Paul McDermott (aka The smelly one in the middle) – Born in 1962 in Adelaide, South Australia, he was the younger of twins, and moved to Canberra with his family when he was young. He attended Marist College, Canberra and studied art at university.
Richard Fidler (aka Tricky Dicky Ricky) – Born in 1965 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, guitarist Richard moved to Canberra with his family when he was a teenager. He went on to obtain a Master's Degree in Political Science from the Australian National University.
Tim Ferguson (aka The good-looking one) – Born in the early 1960s in Canberra, ACT, Australia, he was educated at Narrabundah College and was recruited into the Royal Military Academy at Duntroon, Canberra in the mid 1980s.
In the beginning, the cabaret style comedy trio known as the Doug Anthony Allstars1 comprised Tim Ferguson, Richard Fidler and a third member known as Robert. One night while playing at a cabaret venue called Café Boom Boom, Richard met Paul McDermott, an art student, who was in a group called Gigantic Fly that parodied 1930s films.
Richard observed Paul's talent for singing and they discussed working together. One night, when Robert failed to turn up at a gig, Richard asked Paul if he would fill in for him. In spite of the fact that Paul didn't really like the band's style, he agreed to do it. Eventually Paul replaced Robert permanently and gave the band a more hard-edged style of performance.
The name of the band was most likely taken from the Right Honourable John Douglas 'Doug' Anthony2 although in true DAAS style, they had given many explanations as to how their name originated from the names of former mentors to being inspired by other musical acts. During their time as a purely musical band, DAAS performed punk songs and could be found busking on the streets of Canberra. It was during this time that they decided to do away with most of their instruments and became a one-guitar-trio.
In order to get and hold the audience's attention, they would resort to confronting their audience in a quite a brazen and, some would say, aggressive way. Exploits included seizing various items of clothing and personal possessions from their audience to use in their act. Miraculously, nobody was offended enough to sue them for these pranks.
Eventually taking their act to the Adelaide Fringe Festival in South Australia, DAAS won the Pick of the Fringe, whence they moved on to the Edinburgh Festival and won Pick of the Fringe there. They would be seen at Edinburgh six more times in future years.
During one of their visits to the UK, the group were approached by the BBC to appear on Ben Elton's Friday Night Live, and from there went on to have great success in the UK. They were, however, still relatively unknown in Australia.
When the Friday Night Live idea was brought to Australia under the title of The Big Gig, Ted Robinson, a producer with ABC-TV, approached the Doug Anthony Allstars to be semi-regulars on the show. At the time Ted didn't realise that the band were Australian, originally believing them to be from New Zealand. DAAS agreed to appear on the show, and this was the platform that finally gave them recognition in Australia.
Knowing that journalists are notorious for misquoting their interviewees, the Doug Anthony Allstars started deliberately lying to those that interviewed them in order to make the journalists look foolish. Some of these falsehoods include:
Tim was a male dancer at the Moulin Rouge.
Their plane was hijacked during the Gulf War.
They were to be cast as the Penguin's henchmen in Batman Returns.
Their sense of humour wasn't just reserved for the press; some of the band's quotes included:
If you're happy and you know it, wear a dress and pretend you're Margaret Thatcher...It's what he does.
What's pink and really hard? A pig with a flick knife.
Do you wake up in the morning feeling Sleepy and Grumpy? You must be Snow White.
What has six legs and stinks in the middle? We do!
Let it Swing
Bootleg: Live in Edinburgh
Dead and Alive: Live in London
DAAS: The Last Concert
Live in New York3
Dead and Alive: Live in London
DAAS Kapital (ABC)
Viva Cabaret (BBC)
DAAS Love (BBC)
The Farewell Songbook
This sci-fi sitcom is set in the not too distant future4 when Shistu Tonka, a totalitarian conglomerate, declares an end to all history and all provocative historical artefacts are bundled up in a submarine named the Titanic II, and sent to the dark depths of the sea. Also aboard are the Doug Anthony Allstars, who are there to catalogue the artefacts.
DAAS Kapital ran for two series from 1991 to 1992, with each series comprising seven half-hour episodes. Other regulars on the show were Flacco (Paul Livingstone), who was confined to a box for the most part of the first series, Bob Downe (Mark Trevorrow), host of Shistu Tonka's Good Morning Murwillumbah, and Psycho Bob (Michael Patroni), who repeatedly declares that he is Bob and he will be back. The show was detested by the critics but has become a cult classic.
The Break Up
After returning from Britain in the mid-1990s, the group was divided as to which direction they should go in and they eventually decided to call it quits. At last, in 1994, the Doug Anthony Allstars said goodbye to Australia with a final farewell tour, released a collection of their songs in book form and went their separate ways.
Where are they now?
Paul McDermott went on to have huge success in Australia on a show called Good News Week and can now be seen on ABC TV hosting the ballroom competition show Strictly Dancing.
Richard Fidler produced an award-winning CD-ROM about the Australian music industry, hosted ABC-TV's Race Around the World and was most recently on the ABC hosting a technology programme called Aftershock.
Tim Ferguson published a fictional book entitled Left, Right and Centre, stood for parliament in the seat of Kooyong in Victoria, Australia but was not elected, and hosted game shows, clip TV shows and pay-TV programmes. He most recently hosted the Doctor Who: Inside the Tardis Tour of Australia 2005.