It's OK to laugh at the following story. David Feherty wants you to laugh.
"There was one episode at Castle Pines," the golf commentator says, recalling the Castle Rock tournament he covered over the years. "You know, I take a lot of medicine, psych meds and things like that, for depression. And before one of the shows at the International, I was gonna take a Lipitor, like a blood pressure medicine, and I accidentally took an Ambien, a sleeping pill.
"So I did the show from a flatbed cart. They said it was the best show I ever did, because I wasn't really there."
He'll have more such stories Saturday night in Denver - stories with darkness buried in the upbeat act.
"Live Off Tour" audiences have been treated with firsthand, behind-the-scenes anecdotes of legends including Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, but nonsporty types have delighted also in Feherty's self-deprecation. From his playing days that coincided with drug and alcohol abuse, to bipolar disease, to divorce, to parenting, to his career traveling to the game's biggest stages for CBS Sports and now NBC Sports, he has a lot of material.
Away from the cameras, comedy has "been kind of cathartic," Feherty says one morning from his home in Dallas, a hint of exhaustion with the thick Irish accent.
He doesn't have to censor himself on stage as he does when he's broadcasting. Also, "it just seems like the ideal sort of outlet for me to be able to share with people, really, my life story, interspersed with other people's stories and a bunch of Irish jokes."
Feherty is a funny guy, which is why the golf world likes him around. He's a rare commodity, a big voice in a sport known for its hushed commentary, a colorful character in a fraternity meant for "gentlemen." One newspaper called him "the most outrageous man in a buttoned-up game."
He's OK with the reputation. "Sure, the game is taken too seriously at times, there's no question," he says.
Feherty the player became known for antics more than wins. Perhaps most famously, he won the 1986 Scottish Open and then went on a multiday bender, losing the trophy in the process.
Throughout his competitive career, comedy was "a sort of self-defense kind of thing." Anytime he played badly, "I would always try to make fun of it. And I played badly a lot," he says, chuckling.
But he's always been the funny guy, ever since he was a kid growing up in Northern Ireland.
"I was a classic ADD child," Feherty says. "I was made to feel stupid in school. Other kids laughed at me. So I developed a sort of armor. I would make fun of myself before they could do it. I think that's where (comedy) came from, more of self-defense than anything else."
The armor can be heavy. Comedy is not as natural to Feherty as it might seem to onlookers. They can find him back stage before the show, "panic- stricken," he says. "Every time, I think, Jesus, whose idea was this?"
It was a promoter's, a guy in Canada who saw Feherty light up the room during a corporate get-together.
But it's been worthwhile, Feherty says.
"Giving people two hours of comic relief. You know, laughter's the best medicine and all that."
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE, 636-0332, SETH.BOSTER@GAZETTE.COM