Doug Anthony All Stars: Fringe legends with no limits

Doug Anthony All Stars at 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Pic: Cath Ruane)
Doug Anthony All Stars at 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Pic: Cath Ruane)

As comebacks go, it was just epic!

Two decades had passed since the Doug Anthony All Stars became legends in the capital, and much had changed in that time, but they still blew the place apart on their return in 2016.

The Pleasance was packed for the eagerly awaited shows from the Aussie trio, and they didn’t disappoint.

No topic was taboo, no target off limits as they demonstrated this was no cosy reunion, but a full-blown DAS experience – and they wrapped up each night by chucking their own audience out into the night!

I first encountered the Doug Anthony All Stars in Kirkcaldy two decades AGO, where they played in the upstairs studio.

They were Fringe stars by then, famed for hijacking other shows and storming through the doors with their entire audience in tow!

Their riotous comedy was a mix of music and jokes, all of it ultra sharp, highly topical and quite openly provocative. And, it has to be said, funny to the point of being painful.

They’d happily insult each other too, before then throwing a curve ball in the shape of a song delivered completely straight. Throw Your Arms Around Me is as beautiful a ballad as you’ll ever hear – no punchline or twist, simply sung from the heart. It’s also one of the few song titles I can repeat without causing offence – their most notorious numbers being well beyond the boundaries of good taste!

But what really makes the Doug Anthony All Stars stand above the rest is the spirit between them.

Tim Ferguson and Paul McDermott are founder members, while their old mate Paul ‘Flacco’ Livingston has fitted in perfectly.

And it’s Tim story which sits at the heart of their triumphant re-union.

He was diagnosed with MS and now uses a wheelchair.

His condition is the subject of running jokes throughout their live sets – told you nothing was off limits – and last year’s show saw them take a bow and walk off, leaving him to sit and wait ... and wait!

Unable to play his guitar, they offered him a triangle only to hang it on his microphone stand just out of reach!

The good news is they’re back at the Fringe this year for a full run entitled Near Death Experience – a brand new show too! If you’ve never seen them live, treat yourself. If you do end up being offended well, they’ll be absolutely delighted!

Doug Anthony All-Stars, The Pleasance, August 2-27.