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Courting Craig Ferguson: The Late Late Show Diaries – Year in Review

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Dear Craig,

January 3, 2006, marks the anniversary of your first official night as the new host for The Late Late Show on CBS. What an extraordinary year you’ve had. It’s time to take a bow, sir!

Over the last year you have lost your tie, found your voice, and charmed a nation of viewers. It should be noted that not all the viewers are female either.

Your wit has served you well. As you became more comfortable with the late night format, you’ve pushed the envelope with your wonderfully quirky humor. When chatting with your guests, you’ve been quick-witted and created a warm and receptive environment in which they’ve felt safe to open up and let it all hang out. In short, you’ve done what no other late night host has managed to accomplish since Johnny Carson: you’ve created a forum for major and minor celebrities to shine — as themselves.

Instead of relying on the current “I have something to promote” pool of talent, you’ve found genuinely interesting authors (Nuala O’Faolain) and producers (Jim Sheridan) to interview, showcased singers you’ve met in coffee shops, and brought viewers their favorite entertainers from the past (Betty White). All of these guests have left a big impression on your viewers. This is mostly due to your genuine interest in them and their work.

There were a couple of live broadcasts in December that were absolutely spectacular! The first, with Jon Cryer and Amy Yasbeck, kept me laughing. I lamented the fact that I couldn’t be a part of the audience that night, but I was equally pleased to watch the show from home. Since you’re fast on your feet, even your taped shows run smoothly. I wasn’t a bit surprised that the live shows went off without a hitch.

You’ve stumbled and laughed at your mistakes along the way. You’ve shaped the show to fit your unique style. And, yes, one could say that you’ve also been shaped by the show. You’ve discovered what works best for you and you’ve run with it.

The eleven-minute monologue is delightful in all its free-form splendor. I’ve seen those cue cards of yours. The monologue isn’t all pre-written as they are for other hosts. Your cue cards simply contain bullet points for reference should you wander off on some fascinating tangent. Oh, what marvelous tangents! Bosch, Freud, space exploration, giant squid!

That reminds me of something else. I can’t honestly remember a time when I’ve heard anyone, let alone a talk show host, speak as intelligently as you do on history, art, philosophy, and the sciences. You have a brain and you use it! What an astonishing breakthrough for television!

You recently added Shadoe Stevens as your announcer. It’s good to hear his voice again. I would love to see you both in some wacky sketch. Maybe he could be your first American agent in a bit about you getting hired for the Drew Carey Show. Something…I’m sure the two of you could come up with something. He’s no slouch at the comedy game, you know.

Along the way, you have shared your pride in your quest to become an American citizen. You’ve reminded a great many people that America is a special place. In the process, you’ve shared many personal stories about Scotland as well as the incredible history of your homeland. Just as you have shown with the late night format, you’ve embraced that which is new to you with that which is part of you. The journey from your roots to your future is all part of the same fantastic package. This is one present nobody appears willing to give up.

Audiences have been responding. The Late Late Show is averaging 1.9 million viewers since the fall TV season started, a 9% increase over last year. Although Ferguson trails NBC’s Conan O’Brien, he has set ratings records for the CBS show in the past three Nielsen sweeps months, when local stations set ad rates.

Perhaps the most important part of your year in hosting The Late Late Show is that you’ve created a home for yourself and an audience who longed for something “special” on TV for many years. Now that you have this incredible home, I wish you nothing but continued success as you begin Year 2.

Bravo, Craiggles!

Thank you for a year filled with laughter, comfort, excitement, inspiration, and amazement. Thank you for making late night TV friendly and welcoming again.

Your cheeky wee monkey and saucy little minx,

Joanie

Check out The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, Monday-Friday, 12:30 AM, Pacific. If you can’t stay up that late and/or refuse to record the show, you can always catch up on the monologues and skits on the LLS website.

About the author: Joan Hunt adores Craig Ferguson and television. Without meaning to appear obsessed, she faithfully watches and records every episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She lives many miles safely south of Los Angeles and CBS Studios. Additionally, she likes kilts, tall men, accents, everything Scottish (except haggis), piercing eyes, roguish grins, and well, if you must know, spanikopita. Not that there’s a lot of spanikopita in Scotland. It’s just another item on the list of things she likes.

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About Joan Hunt

  • Lynn Brenner

    I too, must congratulate Mr. Ferguson for a job of excellence. It is true that the cream will always rise to the top. The pure talent of a human being if the talent is true will not be stopped. Mr. Ferguson has embarked on making The Late Late Show original and his own. He is succeeding with gusto. It seems he is also filling a void in entertainment which is variety. If a viewer does not particularly enjoy a certain aspect of the show, stay tuned. The show offers not only the inimitable nightly Ferguson monologue but skits, interviews, stand up comedians, live music, magic etc. Many of which Mr. Ferguson participates in and is exceptional at. No other talk show host can or even will try to partake in singing duets or doing impersonations, let alone performing extemporaneous monologues that are nothing short of brilliantly hysterical.
    With respect, admiration and appreciation I thank you Craig Ferguson. I once again beleive in the American/Scottish dream.

  • Patricia W. Smith

    I have watched “TV’s Craig Ferguson” on The Late Late Show from the very beginning and my entire family now watches faithfully! His monologues are hysterical and seem to be simply conversations with the viewer at home. I’ve always been fond of the Scottish since I have more than a wee bit of Scotland in my own ancestry, and like Joan Hunt, I love a man in a kilt with a brogue! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Craig is highly intelligent and is an absolute natural at hosting the show. My favourite skits are The Rather Late Late Programme with Prince Charles and Sean Connery’s Holiday Memories! I laughed til I cried! Sorry to gush, but I love his style and his humour! Keep up the great work, Craig…..and welcome to America! You are the best!

  • http://AOL Patsy Cobb

    I dearly love Craig. He is so delightful and funny. Jay Leno was my everynight must watch show, until Craig came along. His monologue is so natural. What a wonderful talent this man has. There are Scottish in my ancestry also, and some of Craig’s phrases I’ve heard from my grandmother. (not an age thing, but a Scottish thing). Joan, you have written a lovely tribute for such a lovely man. Thank you for this opportunity to express my sentiments.

  • Mandy Carroll

    About six months ago I was “channel surfing” from the comfort of my warm bed and then, is it possible I thought? A Glasgow accent! Being Scottish myself, born in Kilmarnock in 1956, it was a dream come true. “Fergie” has entered my life! Craig Ferguson is my hero. He has accomplished what so many have tried and barely anyone has achieved. A star is born! Just when we thought the late night genious, Mr. Carson was the last of the Mohegans, God has blessed us with this brilliantly entertaining, charming, clever, quick witted lad. When he speaks of Scotland and it’s people I’m taken back to the land I will always call home. I am hooked for life. Thank you Craig for doing what only Johnny Carson has done to me. Keep me up past my bedtime! When he speaks of Scotland and it’s people I’m taken back to the land I will always call home. Long live the new KING of late night!!

  • http://aol Debbie

    Although I cannot write as eloquently as all of you, I just want to add my two cents. Craig Ferguson, you are clearly the best, most clever, and certainly the most intelligent talk show host on television. I attended a taping on my birthday in December, it was everything I had hoped for and more. Keep up the good work Craig! I’ll keep DVR-ing and watching you daily.

  • Mary M. Smith

    I thought I was the only one who had a crush on Craig until I ran across Joan Hunt’s blog. Finally, something worth watching on TV. Craig is heads above the other talk show hosts and I hope he reads the letter I sent directly to him.

  • Elaine

    I just reecently discovered the great wit, talent and humor of Graig Ferguson as I was flipping through the channels one night. He is truly one of the most gifted people when it comes to humor. I throughly enjoy his shows and think he is so very handsome and charming. I have recently heard him speak of his past and his addiction to alcohol and I just want to commend him on his sobriety for the past fourteen years. I think highly of your courage and respect you for your strength and wilpower. Keep up the good work and thank you for all your great laughs and gifted entertainment. I hope to get your e-mail address soon and write you there. Good luck in life and continued success. You’re a keeper….Elaine

  • mary

    I wish to give my condolences to Craig over the passing of his father. His Monday night show was one of a kind and very touching. He has the ability to make his audience feel like he/she/they know him personally.

  • John L

    I am old enough to remember Johnny Carson very well (as well as Steve Allen and Jack Paar) so I know what I’m speaking of when I say Craig Ferguson is at least as good as any of them and far better than anyone around these days. I watched Carson and Letterman go from brilliant to jaded and tired after too few years of that daily grind, so I say to you; watch and record this man as often as possible. Cherish these times of Ferguson’s brilliance.

  • David Chowes

    The best late night comedy program presntly on TV;
    or, maybe ever. His monologues and comments during
    the program are inspired – – many off the cuff. He appears to operate between his conscious and subconscious. And, if you “get him,” he says plenty!

    I just hope that his ratings are aufficient to keep him on the air!

  • Jim and Janet Fleming

    All of you have so nicely said how we feel. Craig is truly unique and a breathe of fresh air. His ratings should be higher than Conan’s and I believe he will be if all of us fans spread the word. We agree with the commentor who said that Craig is the best of the late night options. Frankly, he is the first intelligent and “real” host since Carson.

  • Dianne Dutton

    I agree with everything Joan Hunt said. I watch the show every night, and now my family does too. Craig makes Conan look lame. Of course I never like Conan’s type of humor,(making faces, jumping up and down) he is just not funny to me.

    His monologue is hands down the best! The warmth and interest he shows his guests is so genuine.
    He and David Letterman are tops as late night hosts.

  • David Chowes

    Re:Comment on Craig Ferguson Show by Dianne Dutton. [My original comment is #10]

    I teach at a mediocre university and it is clear ro me that the students find Conan to be the “hot” late night comic. I only watched his first show for as long as ~40 minutes. AWFUL! – – I predicted it would be cancelled when his contract with NBC expired.

    During the past few years, I have watched ‘snipets’ of his shows. TORTURE! He is simply NOT funny!
    Now 10 years later, he is in line for The Tonight Show! Why my undergraduates and the ratings suggest so much likability of him is a question I cannot answer.

    David Chowes

  • http://www.sorryaboutleroy.com Leroy Johnson

    I agree, Craig Ferguson is brilliant. His monologue is probably my second favorite in late-night (with Jay Leno being the first), and his sketches can be absolutely hilarious. My favorites are when he writes letters to public figures in that comical Scottish accent, “Extratainment Tonight” (the best of all), and when he dims the lights and creates lightning sound effects, then acts like a pirate. I just wish he hadn’t changed his set. It was good like it was.

  • Mandy Carroll

    I’m #4 on the list of this blog.
    I’m back to say this:
    I’m on the east coast and Craig’s broadcast just ended. It’s 2 hours past 9/11/2006.
    Craig, as usual, touched my heart with his tribute to this day in history.
    He’s pure genius.

  • David Chowes

    Viewed 9/11 program. I was quite moved by his low key memorial to the fifth aniversary of the tragedy.
    He, in the main he earns his income via comedy – – but don’t they say ‘clowns are clowns due to profound sadness…

    And, in his opening monologue, he almost always says, “It’s a great day in America! Now, why…?”

    I agree: he is a genius. I hope he can maintain an good adequate rating – – he may be a bit too sophisticated for the proletariat!

    Thank you Mr. Ferguson. Your expression of your obvious vulnerbility achieves the level of true art!

  • Angela Gomez-Hodgson

    I started watching Craig litlle by little when I stayed up. Everytime I liked him more and more….Now I am absolutely crazy about him.
    He is incredibly funny, has an incredible fast mind and on top of everything is a very attractive man.
    I am very very happy that his ratings are up, after youtube started to show the director clips, his rating increased by 9%…..YEA!!!
    I record him everyday and watch him the next day…..The hour goes extremely fast and it always ends too soon.
    I agreee with some of the comments here, I have never seen guests feel so comfortable beeing interviewed…he really has a talent for that.
    The music guests are fantastic as well as the comics.
    I really think he is going to make it big and be number one after Letterman (his boss….who I imagine is extremely happy with his succes).
    I look forward to seeing him everyday!!!
    Angela

  • David Chowes

    His “Super Bowl Sunday Special” seemed to have the most number of commercials I have ever seen on a network program. No one likes that (except the network collecting the revenues). But, of more significance, it destroyed the flow of the program! Craig Ferguson also seemed somewhat nervous and out of his element.

    Some material was taped and viewed on the following Monday show, “I’m television’s Craig Ferguson”s Late, Late Show.” We needed more continuity!

  • Ben

    I have recently began to tune in to Craig simply because he makes me feel welcome. Craig is very intelligent and assumes his veiwers are intelligent as well. His subtle humor pulls the deep guffaws after long day. “I don’t have an accent it’s everyone around me that have accents.” It’s that wit and perspective that lures me to tune in.

  • C

    Mr Ferguson’s comments on the death of Johnny Carson were the most touching words on the subject in all of Television. In my opinion you could do away with the guests altogether and just let him ramble on for the whole show.

    C

  • http://www.youtube.com/angieslindmusic nursecanary

    There is no sexy without intelligence. And a sexy man with Zen-ish wit…uber sexy, Craig!

  • Jenna

    Well, I am from Australia where the show does not air. No idea WHY. However, thank the lord for youtube where there are literall thousands of clips of him. I AM SO BEYOND OBSESSED now. I have nothing else to say, but that he is a complete COMEDIC GENIUS! There are too many things that I love about him, so I’ll just say that. And Craig. . . . . I wish you the BEST of the BEST. Because that’s what you deserve!

  • Julie K. Junkermann

    I agree with all of you who said he is a comedy genius! I also echo that he is a “man of the people” and seems to really invite us into his show nightly. He seems to really enjoy doing his show, especially when he’s been away for awhile…he always says, “God, I’ve missed you!” and I believe he really means it. I also love when he gets introspective…like the 9/11 show on the 5th anniversary (2006) like someone already mentioned…so moving! I was near tears when he was finished. He can make you laugh until you can’t breathe and in the next moment, he can say something profound and moving! And could I just say that he is ADORABLE…I know!!!He is the best late night talk show host since Johnny Carson…Long Live The LL Show with Craig Ferguson!!!

  • Bernadette

    I have been watching Craig Ferguson for several years now…I fell in love with him the first time I watched. As you have all said, he is intelligent, handsome, funny, and personable. It is 4 years since this blog started…Conan replaced Jay and now Jay has replaced Conan. Craig is still doing what he does best! Making us laugh and now twittering!! Personally, I think the day Dave retires, Craig should be the ONLY person considered to replace him. I definitely have a huge crush on him!! (and although happy for him and his wife…for me it was like when Elvis married Priscilla!)

    Can someone tell me though, why does he always say “TV’s Craig Ferguson”? Is there another Craig Ferguson who is not in TV?

  • gansevoortgirl

    I’ve been living in NY for 2 wonderful years. Now I live in Europe and what I miss most are not the skyscrapers, bagels in the morning or the Sunday NYTimes, but Craig Ferguson’s show, which could “save” me after a lousy day. Thanks God there’s Yotube!