Jeff Fatt, the “sleepy” member of the Aussie troupe, on faux narcolepsy, mortality, and home renovations.
1. He has a past life as a cockroach.
The Wiggles, TV’s least watchable and most adored quartet of children’s entertainers, have announced that their current tour will be the last for Jeff Fatt, Murray Cook, and Greg Page (purple, red, and yellow, respectively). Anthony Field (blue) will continue on with the new Wiggles, who will don the troupe’s trademark Star Trek–esque outfits in the same three colours (so as not to shock audiences with too much change). Before the Australian children’s group became wildly popular, Fatt played keyboards in the pop-rock band The Cockroaches, along with Field and his brother, Paul, who is now The Wiggles’ manager. Fatt, who will turn 60 next year, prefers playing for (very) underage crowds to the trad rock tour circuit, in part because the hours work better for him. Also, he says, it’s gratifying to be a kids’ entertainer. “Adults give in to peer pressure; with a children’s audience you’re getting an honest appraisal of what you do. You also get more respect from landlords at a hotel as a children’s performer.”
2. He’s faking it.
Fatt is known as “the sleepy one,” a sobriquet that, as you might guess, has to do with his tendency to doze off, prompting others to wake him up. The gimmick, a source of endless entertainment for the toddler set, was strategic. “I was the only one of the four Wiggles who wasn’t a preschool teacher,” he says, “so I didn’t have the verbal skills to communicate with children…it was about getting me involved on stage.” While he sees himself as very laid back, Fatt notes that he doesn’t necessarily share his character’s sleep habits: “In real life, I’m probably a very light sleeper.”
3. He clearly hasn’t seen the 30 Rock spoof.
Last spring’s “Meet the Woggles” episode of 30 Rock went all out, imagining the look-alike group as white supremacists (Fatt, who is Chinese-Australian, was noticeably replaced), and the blue Wiggle as the pawn in a Yoko Ono scheme by Jenna (Jane Krakowski). Fatt wasn’t bothered by the satire. “I don’t watch much TV but we welcome any parodies of The Wiggles. In fact, we love them. Or cartoons of The Wiggles, they’re generally very funny. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. But anyone is welcome to take the Mickey out of us.”
4. Turns out the Wiggles are not immortal.
Last year, Fatt had a pacemaker installed, but he’s also learned he has compressed disks in his back, which led him to reconsider his role in the group. “It’s a way of preserving my body as I head towards older age,” he says. “Those compressed disks, you only get them once and it really does play upon your idea of your mortality and your ability to function.”
5. He’s been distracted for 21 years.
Stepping back from The Wiggles doesn’t mean slowing down for Fatt, who plans to stay involved behind the scenes, since “you can only do so much fishing and surfing.” He’s also working on a major reno project. “It was supposed to be finished last Christmas. I’ll probably be involved with some hands-on stuff with that. Before The Wiggles started I was renovating my previous house,” he says. “I guess the thing with this new house going on is that I’ll get back to what I was interrupted from doing 21 years ago, when Anthony approached me about getting involved in this children’s band.”
A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DAD’S TOP THREE WIGGLES TRACKS:
Darryl Weeks is a father of two and the head honcho of local music PR firm StageFright Publicity. Here are his picks:
“Ensalada de Fruta Fresca”: Catchy Spanish-language version of the “Fruit Salad” song with lovely Hammond organ flourishes.
“Get Ready to Wiggle”: Closest thing the band has to an anthem. Appeared on The Wiggles’ debut album in 1991, but was originally a Cockroaches number.
“Do the Owl”: Nice Chic-esque track with wah-guitar and a disco beat.
The Wiggles play Ricoh Coliseum (100 Princes’ Blvd.) on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m., and Oct. 6 at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. $54–$94. 416-263-3900, ricohcoliseum.com.