Sunday, November 19, 2017

David Feherty Off Tour

Golf analyst and former European pro player David Feherty takes 15 pills a day to function. A former drug addict and alcoholic, Feherty is bi-polar. His sobriety and the fact he is alive today is nothing short of a miracle. "I only live in the moment. I'm not thinking of the next 15 minutes or looking back on the past of them. This is what I must do to stay on this planet," said the Northern Irishman.  Given such a dramatic personal history, one might wonder how David can live without the highs that once characterized a fascinating, troubling and colorful history. His live show "Feherty: Off Tour," which is currently on tour is the answer.
How do you describe the offbeat antics of David Feherty? The New York Times called him “a cross between Oprah Winfrey and Johnny Carson.” With a sharp wit and irreverent style, the professional golfer turned golf analyst, talk show host and sports broadcaster has made a name for himself as one of the most hilarious and irrepressible personalities in golf. Of Feherty’s live one-man show, Golf Digest said: “Uncensored and unhinged, and worth the price of admission. It really was stupendous.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raves, “David Feherty was uproariously funny. It was two hours of zaniness and madcap storytelling. People were coming out of their seats with laughter.”
What the promotional description does not capture is what those in attendance know to be true. The high that David must feel isn't his alone. As I exited the Palace of Fine Arts, I realized I was walking among others caught in a collective euphoria. Everyone left feeling high... High from a deep belly ache of laughter, of hearing stories that were shocking, completely inappropriate and yet hilarious beyond expectation. He is politically incorrect and there is something almost liberating in his honesty and equal opportunity offense—both taken and received. I am not overselling his stock when I state that seeing David Feherty Off Tour revealed to me the words of St. Irenaeus: "the glory of God is the human person fully alive." Many people are grateful he is alive; that is a fact. But to see a man self-actualized, who has become even more than anyone could have ever predicted, confirms that miracles come in the form of human beings. This posting is meant to retell a few of his fabulous stories and life lessons. Enjoy.
Feherty began by discussing from whence he came: Belfast. Given the political turmoil of his homeland, he noted that humor was a mechanism for self-preservation. He added that no one laughs at anyone else's jokes because the bar has been set so high (I'd like to go to that bar). Everyone is funny. That being said, he told the tale of when he first realized both his mother and his father were funny people. "My Da worked at the docks and came home like clockwork, every night to a home where my mother had his dinner waiting for him like clockwork, every night. One Thursday night he made his way to the "town meeting hall" and had a few too many. He arrived home over two hours late, pretending like nothing had happened. He asked my mom if his dinner was still warm. She said it is, it's inside the stomach of the dog." Safe to say, a lot of people in the audience laughed.

In August 2008, David Feherty co-founded Troops First Foundation. Their mission is as follows:
We work to provide meaningful assistance to our military who have been wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through unduplicated programs designed for OIF/OEF combat-wounded service members and their families, we address relationship building, mentoring reintegration and looking forward.
In speaking about Troops First, David shared the story of a 31-year old veteran he had met through his foundation. Retired Marine Corps Sgt. John Peck, a quadriplegic received two arms in a bilateral transplant. I had no idea this was even possible. 
What was equally interesting however is that in meeting Peck, Feherty recalled that their interactions were laced with biting humor and innuendo. Though the cause is near and dear to Feherty, for whatever reason, he didn't treat this guest of honor like one might expect. At the conclusion of their meeting, Peck said to David, "Thank you for being an asshole to me. I'm still here, though I occupy a different space." Feherty emphasized that what many people want isn't pity, but to be included as someone who isn't all that different—even when we are.

Feherty became a PGA commentator in 1997. He had a lot to say about the men (less about the women) in today's game—their fitness, the equipment, the competition and the question of performance enhancement drugs. He said, "if they come up with a drug that helps you play golf better, I'm going to be so pissed—I looked for that for years. Money spent on drug testing could be used for a much better cause, like seeking a better quality of life for the elderly, especially those struggling with Alzheimer's." Way to speak truth (and humor) to power.

Feherty noted that his career as an analyst and commentator began at the same time as the career of one of the all-time greats in the game: Tiger Woods. He said, "Tiger Woods? I thought that was the name of a golf course in India." 

He added, "Tiger did things no one had ever seen before. I was hired to tell the audience what a golfer was thinking...what he would do next...what he should be doing. When I saw what he did, I told him, 'Noah only put one of you on the Ark.' Looking back now, the problem as I see it is that we —the camera and crew...and, therefore, all of you who were watching‚—were so busy focusing on Tiger's reaction to his shots. We should have focused in on ours....or his competition." It was obvious that Feherty has great respect and affection for the 14-time major golf winner. "He has a great sense of humor. People don't know about it."
Until I found "This is Us," Feherty is the only show I watched regularly on prime-time television. I do not offer those words as a "point of pride" or with a trace of arrogance....meaning, that sense of I don't have time for television. I'm not sure I do, but that's beside the point. Regardless, Feherty has been "my show" for quite some time....and I love that feeling of anticipation for the next episode, and what will happen next. Feherty should be different, as it's an interview between a golf analyst and a celebrity for the purpose of talking about golf and about life. With golf, however, the two are never mutually exclusive. 

Last week Feherty's show came to San Francisco, and it might be coming to yours. It felt as intimate as what I watch in my living room, but it was even that much better. As my friend Malia said "he is fascinating, raw, honest, flawed and totally likable." I would like to add that I believe he's a remarkable example of what can happen when we accept our fragility and humanity...when we find a lucky break and fortune throws us a bone....when we live in the moment, rely on those we love, laugh often and let life (and the good Lord) take it from there.

Photo Credits
with Tiger

Feherty Off Stage: Thank you Malia!
Troops First

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