Golf personality Feherty brings darkly humorous stand-up tour to Pittsburgh
David Feherty shares a story about Flann O'Brien, the great comic novelist.
“Flann had a bottle of whiskey in a brown paper bag,” Feherty says of the author of “The Third Policeman,” a fellow Irishman. “He sits down next to an old man, and says, ‘You want a drink?' The old man didn't say anything.
“Flann is getting a bit angry, he says again, ‘I said, you want a drink?' No answer from the old man … Flann wakes up in hospital with a fairly serious head injury.
“He head-butted the statue of Patrick Kavanagh.”
Though the story is likely apocryphal, as O'Brien (real name: Brian O'Nolan) died the year before fellow writer Kavanagh, a few things about it are worthy of note:
1. It involves an Irish drinker;
2. It's funny, in a dark and twisted way; and
3. It has nothing to do with golf.
Feherty, longtime CBS golf announcer and host of a Golf Channel talk show, recently teed up a stand-up career. His “Off Tour” concert June 5 at the Byham Theater is only the sixth show for the comedy-tour rookie.
Believe it or not, this quick wit who sounds at ease narrating tense tournaments has nervous fits before his concerts.
“It's terrifying,” he says from his Dallas home. “I'm jumpier than a box of frogs.”
Even so, he's enjoying what he calls “much more of an intellectual challenge. I can be a lot more politically incorrect, as well. I feel more handcuffed on television. What can get you in trouble fastest is the truth. ‘Politically correct' is a euphemism for (b.s.).”
Being political — although not necessarily correct — has landed Feherty in hot water.
In 2009, he wrote in a Dallas magazine: “If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”
Feherty later apologized to Pelosi, the House speaker, and Reid, Senate majority leader.
“The Pelosi thing is not something I regret,” Feherty says. “It was taken out of context. ... It was clearly ridiculous — the entire piece — and not meant to be taken seriously.”
So, it's safe to say that polite comedy is strictly out of bounds, for his live show.
Drinking, the Irish and golf tend to go together like a drive-chip-putt combo.
But, for Feherty, it was a dangerous mix. He says he was washing down pain pills with two bottles of whiskey a day until he interviewed golf greats Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.
After he interviewed Nicklaus, Feherty says Watson — an alcoholic in recovery — pulled him aside and asked if there was a problem. There was.
Feherty says Nicklaus flew him in his private jet to Watson's home, where Feherty sobered up and started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“I haven't had any relapses in going on nine years,” Feherty says.
With his comedy, Feherty isn't relying on his golf connection. He says there's plenty of non-golf humor in his show, describing his approach as “more anecdotal, no question about that.
“I do tell a lot of jokes. Irish jokes, as well. The Irish don't really tell jokes — it's more like talk in the pub between drinks.
“Murphy and Flanagan are having a discussion. Murphy says, ‘Flanagan, why do scuba divers fall backward out of the boat?' Flanagan says, ‘Murphy, if they'd fall forward they'd still be in the boat!'”
Tom Scanlon is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.