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The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is an American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson is the third regular host of the CBS Late Late Show franchise. The show follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup.

The program is the only one of the major U.S. broadcast network late-night programs that does not have its own house band, an omission that has existed since CBS launched the show in 1995 with Tom Snyder as host. Ferguson frequently makes mention of the fact that he has no band as one of his faux complaints about how poorly CBS treats him.

Show format

The show starts with a cold open consisting of a short monologue, acting with one of his hand puppets, or interacting with a random person selected from the audience, lasting only a few minutes; this is followed by a commercial break, and the opening credits. "TV's Craig Ferguson" introduces himself, shortly followed by one of his catch phrases "Welcome to Los Angeles, California, welcome to The Late Late Show, I am your host, TV's Craig Ferguson" and "It's a great day for America, everybody!" and a "cheeky, stream-of-consciousness monologue." After another commercial break, Ferguson is typically seated behind his desk, where he may read and respond to viewer e-mail. Other segments include comedy sketches, which feature Ferguson in costume or performing in collaboration with any of a number of semi-regular guests including Dave Foley, Betty White, Tim Gunn, Daniel McVicar, Tim Meadows, James Adomian, Henry Winkler, Jamie Denbo or Ewan McGregor. Generally one or two celebrities are interviewed; Ferguson starts each by dramatically ripping up note cards written for the interview, "signalling to the audience, and to the guest, that this conversation need not be rigidly managed."

Sometimes a stand-up comedian and/or a musical guest perform, the latter of which is typically pre-taped.

Ferguson has used many running gags that span multiple shows and have colorful animated graphics. These have included themed weeks such as "Crab Week", "Magic Week" and "Shark Week" (though Craig admitse.g. Crab Week
However, magicians performed on Magic Week, e.g.

that the show's budget makes most of the themes limited mostly to graphics), a sound effects machine installed at his desk (which has been removed), "Dear Aquaman" (in which Craig dresses as the superhero and gives advice), and "Election Fever" during the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election. Another running gag is the "photo of Paul McCartney". When McCartney is mentioned in the monologue, Ferguson will call for a photo of McCartney, which is actually a photo of actress Angela Lansbury and vice versa. The show often uses variations of this gag featuring other pairs of look-alike celebrities. Craig has also made various references to bearing a resemblance to Liza Minelli, for which he "apologized." Occasionally during the monologue, Craig Ferguson will claim that the audience has "made him angry" and he will shake his fist at the audience while wacky music plays.

Should Craig say a word or phrase the show censors must bleep, a French flag appears over his mouth with "Ooh la la!" spoken instead of the offending word. His guests' mouths are simply pixelizated.

The show ends with "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?", a segment that starts with an animation of a kitten and Ferguson "removes his tie, puts his feet on his desk, and summarizes the preceding hour of TV."


In 2006, clips of The Late Late Show began appearing on the video sharing website YouTube. Subsequently, Ferguson's ratings "grew seven percent (or by 100,000 viewers)."

During the week ending March 31, 2006, The Late Late Show attracted an average of 1.9 million total viewers, a number that increased to 2.0 million a year later.

During the week ending April 4, 2008, The Late Late Show attracted an average of 1.88 million total viewers; that week, for the first time since Ferguson began hosting, the show's "five-night week of original head-to-head broadcasts", which was later discovered to actually be four nights due to a difference in title, drew a larger audience than Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Reuters noted that "Ferguson's bigger accomplishment seems to be that he has merely lost fewer viewers this season, with his total audience slipping 12 percent from a year ago, compared with a 24 percent drop for O'Brien"; the year-to-year decline in viewership was attributed to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.

The Late Late Show encountered new competition on March 2, 2009, the first night of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. During Fallon's first week, the new show averaged 2.4 million viewers, a half million more viewers than Ferguson. Fallon maintained his lead over Ferguson during the show's second week, but by March 16, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson had attracted a larger audience. As of July 30, 2009, Ferguson leads Late Night in total viewers by a 25 percent margin, but still trails in demographics 18-49 by a 17 percent margin and 18-35 by a 42 percent margin. On September 22nd, 2009, the night Ferguson followed the Letterman interview of President Obama, his audience reached 3.24 million, the show's biggest ever; Ferguson attracted two million viewers more than Jimmy Fallon and almost a million more than Conan O'Brien attracted an hour earlier.

Production milestones

Ferguson's first show as host was on January 3, 2005. For about the first two months, Ferguson continued his predecessor's monologue format, reading five to 10 jokes from cue cards. He would ad-lib between the jokes, and soon noticed that the "stuff in-between" got the most reaction from his audience; after that realization, he decided he and his writers would stop writing jokes.

By May 2006, Studio 58, the CBS Television Citymarker venue from which the show is taped, had been updated with a digital broadcast Solid State Logic mixing console, needed for 5.1 Channel Surround.

A new set debuted on the July 24, 2006 episode , after the previous one had been destroyed by Bob Barker and others from The Price Is Right. It included a miniature CBS dirigible that floated along over the backdrop depicting Los Angeles. In the week starting with March 17, 2008, The Late Late Show debuted a new set featuring a desk/interview area on a raised platform. The backdrop was also changed to a detailed representation of Los Angeles.

When the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike began, the show went into reruns. It resumed production on January 2, 2008 after Worldwide Pants and the WGA came to an agreement.

In 2008, Worldwide Pants Incorporated signed a product placement deal with Ford to promote the Ford Flex during The Late Late Show. Eight episodes ("with one repeat") of the show included custom-written skits in which Ferguson played the leader of a band called the Highlanderz, riding in a Flex as they traveled from Los Angeles International Airportmarker to the CBS Studio. The skits were shown on successive Thursdays starting on September 4.

On August 31, 2009, the show began broadcasting in high definition, featuring a refitted studio and production facilities, along with a new show logo, eighteen new lights (an unimpressed Ferguson was originally told the number was only two), an opening title sequence that "features Ferguson in iconic Los Angeles locations", and a new arrangement of the show's theme song. In preparation for this refit, Ferguson taped two weeks of episodes over a month in advance. New shows that aired in the first half of August, as his set was being updated, had actually been taped in late June and early July, something Ferguson playfully hinted at each night. The remainder of August 2009 was filled out with repeats.

Ferguson's contract as host is for six years, until the end of 2010; as of August 2007 he was telling television critics he might not be interested in a contract renewal, though by February 2008, he was publicly professing his loyalty to [David] Letterman, saying "I will sit behind Dave as long as he sits there."

Show elements

Theme song

When Ferguson was hired as the full-time replacement for Craig Kilborn, he co-wrote and recorded a new theme song.

Beginning July 7, 2006, the show's theme featured only the ending of the original song, though by January 2, 2008 the full theme had returned, mostly intact. The full theme was re-recorded (with an additional line) for the show's move to HD and was first heard on August 31, 2009.

Musical performances

At some point The Late Late Show began taping musical performances separately from the rest of the show. For example, the band No Age was videotaped on October 2, 2008 for an appearance scheduled to air October 27. That performance was also the subject of an equal-time rule controversy in which Randy Randall was not allowed to wear a pro-Barack Obama T-shirt. Randall, not wanting to cancel the appearance, chose instead to turn the T-shirt inside out and write "Free Health Care" on the shirt with a Sharpie marker

Cold open

Craig starts with a "cold open," which is a two minute segment before the first commercials, theme song, and actual show. Originally it was for a miniature monologue and to talk about the guests on the show. Over time, this segment has expanded to include miniature skits and musical sessions, often involving puppets, and occasional interaction with members of the studio audience.On August 10, 2009, the Craig Ferguson puppet debuted. A large felt head with eyes and facial features like Ferguson, but unlike Ferguson (according to Ferguson), the puppet has perfect teeth.

Impersonations and characters

Impersonations and skit characters frequently done by Ferguson on the show include Prince Charles (usually hosting "The Rather Late Programme"), Sean Connery, Queen Elizabeth II, Andy Rooney, Aquaman, Michael Caine ["in Space", "in Spain," and now presenting "Michael Caine's Animal Kingdom"], and Bono. He claims that he developed his imitation of Caine after an eight hour long plane ride, in which he sat behind Caine who "gabbed" with his wife the entire trip.

Less frequent Ferguson impersonations include Dr. Phil, Simon Cowell, Kim Jong Il, ESPN UK commentator Dirk Weems, Mick Jagger, Regis Philbin, Angela Lansbury (as "Jessica Fletcher" on Murder She Wrote), Jay Leno, Larry King ["of the Jungle"], Bill Clinton, and J. K. Rowling.

Occasionally one of Ferguson's crew members will dress up as and impersonate him, particularly while he is portraying someone else in a skit.

Bob Barker

A running gag during the summer of 2006 involved Ferguson going out of his way to pick on CBS game show host Bob Barker who, Ferguson eventually concluded, was a vampire.

The climax was reached on July 15, 2006, when Bob, flanked by the rest of The Price Is Right's staff, including announcer Rich Fields and some of Barker's Beauties, staged a "surprise" visit. This was the last show before a long-planned replacement of the set. Although Barker did not injure Ferguson, he did do some serious damage to his desk with a single blow. The desk was later totally destroyed by the models, and Ferguson returned, after the commercial break, with a card table covered by a checkered picnic cloth. The episode ended with Ferguson helping the episode's musical guests, Family Force 5, completely trash the set.

Barker appeared on his show a few months later, after announcing his retirement and presented a portrait of himself as a vampire to Ferguson as a gift. Ferguson re-aired the interview segment as a tribute on June 15, 2007, the same day that Barker's last episode of The Price Is Right aired.

Barker again appeared on Ferguson on April 22, 2009 to promote his book Priceless Memories.

Celebrities Read Excerpts from Craig's Book

Starting in summer 2009, a recurring sketch appeared, usually after the second commercial break, consisting of various celebrities reading supposed excerpts from Craig's book American on Purpose. Most of the excerpts deal with Craig's sex life, bedwetting, or addictions. The celebrities have included Dame Edna Everage, Betty White, Danny De Vito, Neil Patrick Harris, Marg Helgenberger, Drew Carey, Reba McEntire and Gerard Butler. At the end, the announcer says, "American on Purpose is available at all finer bookstores. If you experience an erection lasting more than four hours, please call a doctor or Craig Ferguson."

Notable Episodes

  • On January 30, 2006, Ferguson eulogized his father, who had died the day before. Ferguson was nominated for his first Emmy Award for the episode.
  • On February 19, 2007, Ferguson announced he would do "no Britney Spears jokes", saying "comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it" and that it shouldn't include "attacking the vulnerable." He references his 15 years of sobriety and the struggle he had with addiction, almost ending in suicide.
  • On September 10, 2008, Ferguson described his excitement about voting in his first U.S. Presidential election and ranted against American voter fatigue, stating, "If you don't vote, you're a moron!"
  • On December 8, 2008, Ferguson remembered his mother who died December 1, while his show was on break. He told stories about his mother and how he felt after he had returned back from his mother's funeral in Scotland. During the monologue, as he recounted his father's death nearly three years previously and spoke of his parents being back together in death, he became emotional to the verge of tears and cut to commercial. Prior to the break, Ferguson mentioned that his mother wanted the hymn called "Jesus Loves Me" sung at her funeral because that was the only hymn to which everyone knew the words. After the break, he showed a clip from a 2005 interview with his mother and a second clip with his mother and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. Finally, he played his mother's favorite song to end the show, which was "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.
  • On March 4, 2009, Ferguson dedicated the entire show to his guest, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The cold open and monologue featured a brief history of South Africa and apartheid. The show was during a week of change in late night, with the premiere of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a show competing with The Late Late Show, occurring two days earlier. Ferguson's interview received critical praise from NPR's TV critic, David Bianculli, who called the episode's monologue "nothing less than an entertaining, understandable, shockingly thorough history of South African politics and colonization" and its interview "inspirational ... almost beyond measure."
  • On April 28, 2009, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Federal Communications Commission rules imposing fines for indecent language, Craig said in his monologue that he "agree[d] with the Supreme Court ruling today," but then commented in the monologue and throughout the show about swearing on TV, CBS pixelating his mouth and hands, permissible and impermissible language describing sex, and whether he would be personally responsible for the FCC fines.
  • From 2006-present, Ferguson has remembered the 9/11 anniversary, stating: "It will never again be a great day for America." In 2009, he said: "Even people that do not like the United States of America will see this show...So if you are watching, first of all, [bleep]!"
  • On October 5, 2009, Craig addressed Letterman's extortion scandal in the cold open and made a few jokes about how it was difficult for him to make fun of his own boss, even though "my job is to take the number one news story of the day and have a little fun with it." He called Letterman "the king of late night," and claimed that he likes dangerous celebrities. He also expressed humorous concern over getting fired were he to say the wrong thing. He then said, "I don't think I kept a secret from you that I've had a few incidents in my past. But I made the smart move. I wrote them down in a book."
  • On October 27th 2009, during an interview with Alicia Silverstone, CBS lost power, with Craig jokingly saying "We've gone to radio, everybody!" before going to a commercial break. The power "returned" before the interview with Salman Rushdie (the interview was pretaped), only to "go out" again during the "What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?" segment. The next night, Craig commented in the cold opening that Wolf Blitzer reported on CNN that the lights went out on the show, "but how can that be news?"

Sports highlights delays

Since CBS holds the rights to several major professional golf tournaments, including The Mastersmarker and the PGA Championship, along with tennis' US Openmarker, these events also include 15 minute-long late night highlights shows hosted by either Jim Nantz or another CBS Sports host summarizing the day's action. Prior to mid-2007 , Ferguson's monologue would air as usual, followed by Ferguson asking viewers to stay tuned for the sports highlight show (which would air shortly after), followed by the guest and musical portion of the Late Late Show, splitting an episode into two separate segments, one of 10 minutes and one of 45 minutes. After mid-2007, however, CBS decided to air the sports highlight shows between Letterman and Ferguson, allowing The Late Late Show to air its full hour beginning at 12:50am ET/PT on those nights.

See also


  1. Dirk Weems & Ewan McGregor from YouTube
  2. e.g. "Do we have a picture of Cher?", or The Police and The Golden Girls;
  3. For Google, the YouTube litigation threat was overblown. - Dec. 8, 2006 from CNN Money
  4. Jay and Conan Collect Week 28 Wins, an NBC Universal press release
  5. Jay and Conan dominate the Week of April 2-6, an NBC Universal press release
  6. Craig Ferguson Takes The Lead In Late Late Night Ratings from The Huffington Post
  7. Craig Ferguson claims rare win on late-night TV from Reuters
  8. March 13, 2009 review of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from The Huffington Post
  9. Late Night Ratings: Craig Ferguson Tops Jimmy Fallon, a March 19, 2009 article from Broadcasting & Cable
  11. ISBN 978-0061719547
  12. Craig Ferguson Refuses to Do Spears Jokes, Talk Show Host Who Battled Alcoholism Takes Heat Off of "Vulnerable" Pop Star from the CBS News website
  13. My fellow Americans: Craig Ferguson tells viewers, "If you don't vote you're a moron"; read his monologue from
  16. Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc.
  17. E! online article

External links

  • SSL's C100, an August 2006 description of The Late Late Show's Studio 58 production facilities, from

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