On 'Feherty,' stories from an 'awkward' man
Monday, February 27, 2012
“I'm 53 and a half years old and don't really consider myself to have worked at anything yet,” David Feherty said recently.
For a guy who doesn’t work, Feherty sure has a knack for placing himself in the public eye. The ubiquitous golf – and increasingly social – commentator made that remark during a conference call to promote the second season of “Feherty,” his one-man Golf Channel interview show that is sort of a cross between Charlie Rose and Monty Python, with a little Benny Hill sprinkled on top.
Technically, Feherty kicked off the second season with a live, free-wheeling show in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. The new season starts in earnest on Feb. 27 with his interview of Sergio Garcia.
The show was filmed in Borriol, Spain, Garcia’s hometown, a good production decision as opposed to filming in a more generic setting. Feherty suggested that Garcia was a reluctant interview subject, though that’s not evident from the show. El Nino plays tennis and soccer with Feherty, and even engages in a mock bullfight.
Garcia comes across as self-aware, not someone who just shrugs off past bad behavior.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve,” he said.
“It’s not on your sleeve,” Feherty interjected. “It’s lying bleeding on the ground at times.”
Garcia grew up in public, and he acknowledges that that wasn’t always pretty. That’s been evident in his occasional spats with the media and hostile fans. As Feherty says, “We all know that his heart sometimes kidnaps his mouth and he blurts out exactly how he feels.” Garcia at times wishes he had a mulligan.
“Half an hour, an hour (after an interview), you think about it and think, ‘What have I said?’ ” Garcia says. “I’m obviously thinking that’s what I should say because that’s what I’m feeling at that moment, but it’s not the best thing to say.”
Feherty clearly likes his subject, and wants his viewers to like him as well. “There’s an old Spanish proverb that says, ‘A wise man changes his mind. A fool, never.’ ” Feherty concluded. “So, what do you think of Sergio Garcia now?”
I doubt that the show will change viewers’ opinions of Garcia. His occasional surliness sometimes has made him difficult to root for, but I’ve tended to do so nonetheless. I think the game is more interesting, and the PGA Tour more exciting, when Garcia is playing well.
Garcia was a good “get,” but this series often is less about the subject than the host. Feherty is an unlikely media sensation, having parlayed his work in a supporting role on CBS telecasts into his own show. He says the expanded role suits him.
“I'm more comfortable asking awkward questions because I feel like an awkward person,” he said during the conference call.
I’m not so sure about that. As I noted in a recent blog, my sense is that he’s sometimes reluctant to ask awkward or tough questions. He might see the same thing if he were to review his TV work, but he said he doesn’t do that.
“It creeps me out watching myself,” Feherty said. “I have to take more medication than usual. I mean, it makes me genuinely nervous and sick to my stomach watching myself on television. It's something I should be able to get over, but I just can't.”
That’s understandable. I know if someone were foolish enough to put me on television, I’d be reluctant to view the resulting footage. But then, I know I’d stink on TV. Feherty, in contrast, is at home in front of the camera. He would, however, benefit greatly from taking the time to study his finished work. Doing so would be an exercise less in smoothing out his rough edges, which can be endearing, than in what football coaches might refer to as eliminating his turnovers – those groan-inducing moments when Feherty makes us want to change the channel. His wit is undeniable, but sometimes he just tries too blasted hard, as when he opened the show by saying, “Sergio Garcia started playing golf at three years old, an age when I was still picking divots out of my nose.”
The jokes don’t always work, in part because of pacing. Feherty always seems to be “on,” always going for the laugh. Often it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Regardless, he’s not going away anytime soon. Golf Channel plans to run 18 one-hour episodes of “Feherty” this year, including a second live show during Ryder Cup week.