by Michael Cox
We sat down with the “wickedly funny” cabaret comedian Rod Ferguson to talk about his one-man show, “Some Others I’ve Seen,” the third in a series he has presented at Club Café featuring “the songs you love to hear with the stories I loves to tell.” This time the music is inspired by the swing era show tunes of the 1940s. Accompanied by Club Café’s own Brian Patton on the piano, “Some Others I’ve Seen” runs October 12, 19 and 26 at 7 PM. Tickets are available at clubcafe.com.
Explain the title of your show, “Some Others I’ve Seen.”
I developed this show at CabaretFest in Provincetown, where our leaping-off point was the music of the 1940s. One of my favorite songs, “It Had to be You,” was recorded at that time. It’s a love song about finally finding person that’s right for you, flaws and all. He’s not perfect but he’s made the search worthwhile.
“Some Others I’ve Seen” is a lyric from that song, and a title that allows me to share stories about some of the characters I’ve met as I stumble toward the man of my dreams.
Hopefully my next show will be about having found him.
So tell us about some of these characters you’ve seen?
I’m actually an “old fashioned sort of girl” in terms of my romantic sensibilities. Basically, I’m a bit of a prude, and yet I end up in the wildest situations. Call it curiosity. No. Let’s be honest. I love a good story!
So I talk about the first time I fell in love (no one was seriously damaged), my experience at the nude beach (my ego was seriously damaged), an invitation I received to go to a spanking party (that truly had an impact), and how I learned about pup play (I don’t think I’ll ever recover).
As close as some of these stories come to the sexual realm, I cannot stress enough that I did not sleep with anyone in the making of this show. I’m just an embedded journalist in the gay world, reporting back on what I’ve found. And believe me, I’m as surprised by what I’ve discovered as you are.
You gave up a good job in software development to become an artist. Tell me about that.
Let’s just say I don’t think MIT is going to claim me as one of their success stories. I worked in software for years. But in my free time I was drawn to the stage. I bartended at the Wang theater so I could see musicals. I sang in piano bars at least two nights a week. I was happy being an amateur. But so many people responded positively to the way I performed. I decided I’ve got to do more with this passion of mine.
The truth is the software job was holding me back. So I had to let it go. Luckily, I’m not a fancy person. I had the savings to invest in myself as an artist.
I’ve had to make some sacrifices, but so far it’s been worth it. And I have so much more respect for artist and the risks that they take.
You’re known for your humor, your funny stories, what is it that makes your humor stand out from the other funny people we see out there?
I’m still trying to figure out what makes people funny or not funny. I think a big factor is the person’s likability. For some reason, people say I’m likable on stage. It’s ironic because people “like” me on stage for the same reasons they “hated” me when I was a kid. I’m 100% myself.
I’m also very honest with my humor. I don’t sit around thinking, “What would be funny?” I’m not creative enough to come up with things that are funnier than what life offers me. But life offers me plenty. I just write down what makes me laugh and then I craft it.
Tell me about standup comedy. Those audiences can be pretty rough.
Oh boy, standup. The audience can smell fear. So much of it is a confidence game. If you don’t believe in your jokes, and deliver them with that belief, it’s not going to work.
Has being an artist has been therapeutic for you?
Performance isn’t therapy for me. I do my therapy and then I go on stage.
But before you started performing you were in a pretty dark place.
Frankly, my sense of humor has always been my primary coping mechanism. Depression overwhelmed me in the past. I’m open about it because I don’t like that it’s stigmatized, and I want people to know that it’s possible to heal. I joke about it, because there are some genuinely funny moments in that story. And I’m able to joke about it because I really am in a much better place today.
Honesty on stage is something that resonates with me. As much as I like to make people laugh, I want them to know that they’re not alone in their struggles either.
All that being said, pursuing my passion is the best thing I ever done for my mental health.
So who do you think it’s all for? The artist or the audience?
At the end of the day, it’s about the experience I can deliver for the audience. If you’re not enjoying yourselves, then I’m not doing my job as an entertainer. When I’m on stage it’s about you and me having the time of our lives.