He’s the fun-loving professional golfer turned on-course analyst for national television who many may recognize by his signature Irish accent, quick-wit and outrageous antics (fellow pro golfer John Daly once successfully hit a golf ball from his mouth!) On Tuesday, April 2, David Feherty will bring his one-man show, “Feherty Off Tour!” to the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood at 8pm for an intimate evening of wicked good comedy.
For anyone who has never heard of him, the Ireland-born Feherty, who currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his family, is the star of his gut-busting show aptly called Feherty on the Golf Channel, and is beloved for lifting the spirits of everyone with whom he comes into contact, enchanting them with his tongue-in-cheek humor. Long before the funnyman, who is also a columnist for Golf Magazine and a four-time New York Times best-selling author had a career in comedy, he had a stellar run in professional golf with 10 professional wins on both the PGA and European Tours. Feherty first got into the swing of things in 1976 at the tender age of 17. Though he had aspirations of becoming an opera singer (he certainly had the looks for it) his life swung in another direction when he turned professional golfer.
“I had ADD as a child to the max,” Feherty recalls by phone. “I excelled in English and music, and everything else I failed consistently. I was turned on to humor early in my life. I made fun of myself before the other children could make fun of me, and that’s the way my life has gone since… it’s probably why I got into humor.”
As for abandoning his dream of being an opera singer for a career as a golfer?
“I got into it from my father when I was 10 or 11 years old, and I got into the professional game because I didn’t have anything. I left school, I just turned 17, and it was either that or be a singer. But the last thing I needed was another mediocre Irish tenor butchering ‘Danny Boy,’” he jokes.
After enjoying a two-decades-long career in golf until 1997, and subsequently becoming an on-course analyst for the PGA Tour on CBS during which he befriended fellow golf greats such as Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, it was at a corporate speaking engagement in Canada where he was noticed for another hidden talent: cracking smiles. Jones Entertainment Group, who promotes other notable comics from Larry the Cable Guy to Jeff Dunham, approached Feherty to try his hand at stand-up. Following the meeting, Feherty took the stage in Edmonton and Calgary before audiences that ballooned to more than 1,000 people each gig.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he recalled. “So many people would show up to listen to a golf commenter.”
Given Feherty’s charisma and knack for making people laugh, his new calling seemed par for the course. Though he admits to a normal case of the jitters before each gig, he’s able to seamlessly settle into his act once the spotlight is on him.
“When the bell rings, I kind of settle down and read the crowd where I need to go,” he says. “I look at the crowd and my audience and they’re my age, generally speaking, 60 to 90. There are a lot of things I have in common with the audience, so I think it’s more of the things that allows me to perform.”
Material for his Off Tour show spans his life stories growing up in Ireland and settling in America, the “ups and downs” associated with Irish humor, and his memories on and off the golf course. The show, he says, is “very politically incorrect” and “not a show for children.” He takes a jab at everything from how society has changed since the dawn of the digital age and social media era to various social issues. He’ll also be poking fun of Alzheimer’s disease, something his late father, whom he calls a role model, had passed away from.
With a string of feats to his name, Feherty — who has openly battled issues with substance abuse and depression — cited the penning of his first novel, New York Times best seller “A Nasty Bit of Rough” as a prided triumph.
“I really liked that because I was such a hopeless child when it came to everything except English,” he admits.
The book, he explains, is about a golf club in the UK that has an annual match against a clan of Scottsmen who both believed their ancestors invented the game. The trophy’s name? The middle finger of St. Andrew.
Despite Feherty’s seemingly outgoing persona, he said one thing that would surprise people about him is that he is shy and introverted in his private life. For anyone going through similar struggles with mental health issues in their own life, take a page from this champ’s book:
“Children with depression or ADD or Asperger’s, there’s something that they’re brilliant at, and it’s your job to find out what that is, and I think that’s why a lot of comics and writers and creative people are depressives,” he muses. “It allows them not to not suffer with the disease, but to live with it.”
By Lianna Albrizio