Teaching funny: Tim Ferguson to host comedy master class at Canberra Theatre Centre

As the saying goes: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

This is the situation comedian Tim Ferguson found himself in when he was side-swiped by multiple sclerosis and unable to perform on stage. Perturbed by the lack of comedy writing classes in Australia, he turned to teaching.

"For a while I couldn't [perform], so I learnt to teach. As I was lying on the verandah on my farm I thought, 'Somebody has to explain how comedy works'."

Now, Tim is bringing his Comedy Masterclass to Canberra to teach those who have never written comedy, and those who have, how to write funny.

"It's the only one in the country, which is why I decided it has to be done. Comedy writing skills are far and few between," he says.

The two-day intensive workshop promises to teach students the mechanics of successful comedy writing and help them develop their own voice.


"Nobody should be scared of writing comedy. It's easy to teach and all too easy to grasp," says Ferguson.

"Comedy is a craft. It's not a magical mystical art that happens naturally. Once you have the ingredients and a recipe, then you just have to practise."

Ferguson stresses the importance of what he calls the principles of comedy writing. These rules of sorts can be applied to any situation or idea through which students can create something funny.

And perhaps the most important thing? These principles are universal, and will help any idea work in a global comedy landscape.

"There's a variety of these principles, and once a writer knows them it saves a lot of time staring at the wall waiting to think of something funny. The principles are universal, they don't change.

"Comedy is a different way to look at things that can be dark, scary and chaotic. Comedy deals with truth, which is why we laugh."

Teaching comedy enables him to share a new way of looking at things with his students. He offers one of the only comedy writing classes in the country.

Now Tim isn't as crippled by MS as he once was, but says he still tries to juggle both teaching and his own comedic work.

Comedy Writing Masterclass with Tim Ferguson

When: July 9-10

Where: Canberra Theatre Centre

Tickets: $320-$350 from canberratheatrecentre.com.au.