With Craig Ferguson soon leaving us (insert crying here) I thought it would be a good time to remember the great things that he has taught us. In my opinion, Craig has been the best late night host for most of his run. His interviews were informal and never seemed stilted, and often had me actually laughing out loud. However, besides being funny, he could also be incredibly personable. I feel like I know more about him than any other late night host. He never shied away from sharing his past problems with drugs and alcohol, nor was afraid to show his emotions, such as his opening monologues when is parents passed away. So here are the five best lessons I learned from Craig Ferguson.
5) Being funny is not just telling jokes
In the early days of Craig’s show, he was essentially forced by the conventions of late night shows to do a standard monologue opening. A few months in, he figured out that it was more interesting, and definitely funnier, to do a cold opening where everything he said was random. Often this would involve pulling audience members from the crowd and interviewing them, then sending them off to eat at a restaurant on the show’s dime. His long time ending segment, “What Did We Learn On The Show Tonight Craig?” also strayed from the normal late night plan, and was just as improvised and funny. While Craig can tell jokes with the best of them, it’s his fast wit, especially with guests, that made him awesome and hilarious.
4) Funny can be sexy
Look at the comments on the YouTube clips of Craig’s show, and you’ll see lots of ladies (and plenty of men) saying how sexy Craig is. With the possible exception of Conan O’Brien, no other late night hosts (as far as I know) have commanded that level of devotion from fans. He exuded a swarthy charm in his interviews, especially with the ladies, which made one YouTube commenter exclaim “Craig is used to being the funniest and sexiest guy in the room, and it shows. He could have his pick of most of these ladies!”
3) It’s ok to enjoy yourself at your job
From laughing uncontrollably (YouTube “Craig Ferguson Laughing” or my personal favorite “Craig Ferguson Cat Joke” and see what comes up) to making silly fart jokes, Craig clearly had fun doing the Late Late Show. While some other late night hosts often seem to be forcing it, Craig’s genuine love of doing his job shown through nearly every night. And don’t think that just because he’s leaving it means he doesn’t still enjoy it. He has stated, and I believe him, that he still does. It’s just time for him to move on and do something else, which is an incredibly personal decision that I hope I have the guts to make if I ever feel that way, and not just stay doing the same thing because it’s comfortable.
2) Everybody makes mistakes. Own up to them.
Craig has never been shy about talking about his life. Instead of running from his alcoholism and drug abusing past (which almost led him to take his own life) he has freely talked about it not only in interviews but on his show. When Britney Spears was going through her tumultuous times (remember the shaved head?) Craig refused to do jokes about it. Instead, he spent that show’s monologue talking about his alcoholism, and the day he had made up his mind to kill himself, on Christmas Day (search “Craig Ferguson Britney Spear’s Monologue”). It is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever heard anyone say. Craig is not a motivational speaker, he doesn’t travel around to schools and give talks on his life and the hardships he’s had to endure. He in no way had to speak about the things he spoke about that night. But he did, he owned up to his past, and that makes me less scared to own up to mine.
1) Be real.
Before Craig, most late night hosts didn’t let you into their lives. Carson was famous for it, and while Letterman and Leno were a little more outgoing, you never really knew them either. Craig seems to have just been himself during the show. He spoke what was on his mind and let the audience into his personal life to an extent not seen before. From speaking candidly about his mistakes as stated above, to talking about how he felt during events that happened in the world. Craig was very proud of becoming an American citizen, and showed clips of him becoming one on his show. However, it was his eulogy on his show of first his father, and then two years later his mother, that Craig showed his heart to his viewers. They are quite simply two of the most powerful things I’ve seen on TV. Ever.
So there you have it. I for one will miss Craig being on late night. I wish him the best in all his future endeavors. And I give him a heartfelt thanks for sharing his (probably unintentional, but nonetheless powerful) wisdom.