“You came to a show that — let’s be honest — was a bit of a fixer-upper and it kind of stayed that way. Maybe ‘art’ is a very grand word. What I was trying to do here is to make something that wasn’t here before.”
Yes, this show is art. I haven’t been watching for very long, but what I’ve seen on TV and online is something special, something entertaining, something incredibly strange yet endearing. For 10 years, Craig Ferguson has been arguably the best late night host on television, and sadly, not many people–including those at his own network–have had the chance to experience the wonder of his intimate studio. He bowed out yesterday with a funny, poignant, and excellent hour of TV, and I’m sad to see him go.
I won’t write that much about the episode itself here, but I do have to give props to that wonderful musical opening of “Bang Your Drum”, featuring Matthew McConaughey, Lisa Kudrow, Kristen Bell, Jon Hamm, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Daniels, Steve Carell, and more. I also appreciate the wonderful final monologue–in which he acknowledges the show in his usual humble way–being followed up with a relatively low-key episode, with business as usual; after all, sometimes, the best farewells aren’t over the top. Sometimes, the best farewells simply consist of someone doing what he does best, whether that be introducing a new character like Pipey McPiperson or talking with Geoff or throwing Frisbees at Secretariat or conducting an interview. Of course, we do get a pretty special and pitch perfect ending with the Newhart/St. Elsewhere/Drew Carey Show/Sopranos references.
Aside from that, though, I’d just like to say this: Thank you, Craig Ferguson. Thank you for not giving a crap about network feuds or censorship or general talk show conventions. Thank you for those awkward pauses and that Paris road trip and Ass Mode and that Doctor Who episode and that Archbishop Tutu interview. Thank you for actually having a conversation with your guests rather than just blasting through a list of talking points. Thank you for being such a great guy, for not talking down to anyone, for respecting an industry than can become overrun with disrespect. Thank you for getting so close to that camera. Thank you for those wacky characters. Thank you, most of all, for being yourself.
If you haven’t already, I urge you all to watch some of his interviews online. It doesn’t matter which one, really. What matters is that you will notice just how comfortable his guests are, just how informal and fun it all seems, and in the end, that is the true beauty to be found in The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Rarely do you find a more human show on television.
I wish you the best for the future, Craig.
-I liked the Jay Leno interview more than I expected to like a Jay Leno interview, which is hardly surprising because Ferguson’s been getting the most out of his interviewees for years. I enjoyed the two simply talking about the industry, really just seeming like two guys who were done and didn’t care.
-Him and Colbert within one day of each other. 😦
-Kristen Bell was by far my favorite guest of Ferguson’s (Michael Clarke Duncan was also wonderful). The fact that she’s been on his show well over 20 times is a testament to the environment he fosters on his set, something that can’t be replicated anywhere else. You would do well by seeking out all of their interviews and moments together on the show, but here’s a compilation of ten of those:
-Here’s one part of the classic Archbishop Desmond Tutu interview:
-Here’s the wonderful sobriety monologue, one of many amazing monologues (he’s been consistently my favorite monologue giver for years):
-I’m disappointed by the way CBS handled this show throughout the years.
-Good luck to James Corden.
Photo credit: CBS, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson