Late night television is in the midst of a huge shift. I’m sure there will be books written about this year and next that highlight all of the changes. Jay Leno left The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon became the host of The Tonight Show, Seth Meyers left Saturday Night Live to host Late Night, David Letterman announced his retirement on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert is leaving The Colbert Report to take over the The Late Show and another domino fell on Monday when Craig Ferguson announced that he is leaving CBS and The Late, Late Show.
All of these moves have made me feel some sort of emotion and, I assume I’m in the minority on this, the departure of Craig Ferguson is the one that hits me the most. Craig Ferguson has been my favorite comedian ever since I left the TV on after Letterman one night. I was hooked pretty quickly.
I can’t remember exactly what was going on during my first Late, Late Show experience, but I’m fairly sure Sid the Rabbit was there. Nothing gets the attention of a teenage boy like a high-pitched swearing puppet that was way too close to the television.
It takes a while to really ‘get’ Ferguson’s don’t-give-a-shit style, but once you get it, oh man, it’s the best ride on television.
Look at Ferguson at just a comedic skill level. Ferguson comes out every single night and virtually impovs a monologue. Sure, he has a couple talking points, but every other late night TV show has cue cards or a teleprompter telling the host exactly what to stay. Craig just doesn’t do that.
I could go on and on about Craig Ferguson. He completely changed the way that I look at comedy and life.
I don’t know if everyone has the realization that you don’t need to please everyone, but I did. I think I had the realization before I discovered Craig, but I know that he cemented the theory in my mind. Before the realization I thought that I needed everyone to love me and then I realized that that was a lot of work and I frankly didn’t care. I decided that I only cared what my family and a certain group of friends thought about me. It’s the best thing I ever realized.
Maybe this isn’t the exact outlook on life that Ferguson has, but I feel like it is. He doesn’t care, but there’s a glow about him when he talks about his boys or when he does a serious episode. Yes, Craig Ferguson is a comedian and has some weird conversations, but some of the most thought provoking television I have ever watched has been a Ferguson interviews.
I DVR’ed every episode of the Late, Late Show from my junior year of high school until I went to University of Minnesota for my freshman year and that was just because I wouldn’t have access to the DVR every night. I could watch him at 11:35 then, anyway.
To be honest, I’ve left Craig dangling a little bit. I’ve been conflicted ever since Seth Meyers took over Late Night. I’ve loved Meyers for longer than Ferguson and there are just not enough hours in the day, but I’ll make there is now.
Ferguson is leaving in December and I plan to watch every episode I can between now and then. This is the man that I can attribute a lot of my life upon. That sounds weird, but a comedian has taught me a lot. Maybe more than he should have.
His autobiography, American On Purpose, is my favorite book. He is the only comedian I have specifically gone to see. Ironically, I saw Craig Kilborn perform before a Timberwolves game before he left the Late, Late Shot.
I don’t know how to thank Craig for all that he has done for me because he’s done that much for me. He’s influenced my comedic voice and my voice as a human.
When I think back to Ferguson’s Late, Late Show I’ll think of a lot of things: Sid, Tweets and Emails, Geoff Peterson, Secretariat, Awkward Pauses, mouth organs, snake mugs, swearing on network TV, the flags/sound bites used to censor the swearing on network TV and how the commercials made the soundtrack to a summer of make out sessions. None of that will outshine the man whose name was in the title and who sang his own catchy theme song, another thing that I’ll never forget.
A lot of things are changing in the world of late night television, but my love for Craig Ferguson will never die. My own Sid the Rabbit puppet will be with me forever. Maybe someday Sid will freak out my future son’s girlfriend. This is the kind of thing that deserves to be a family tradition.