BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Craig Ferguson is bringing talk – and a few other things – back to the talk show. Guy Davis stayed up past his bedtime to learn more about The Late Late Show.
won the highly prestigious Peabody Award), it has also earned him a legion of devoted fans.
And what they’re drawn to, it seems, is Ferguson’s delight in thinking outside the square.
“ Here’s the reality: I’m another middle-aged guy telling jokes late at night on TV wearing a suit,” he said. “ That can get tired. I want to mess with it. I want to poke it with a stick. I can because I’m on the late-night fringe.”
Airing in the US after the Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show is now airing in Australia – in a late-night timeslot, appropriately enough – on Ten’s new digital channel Eleven. But despite its title and timeslot, Ferguson says, “ I don’t feel like I do a late-night show, I feel like I do a show which is coincidentally broadcast at night”.
Airing in the wee hours, however, gives him a little latitude to do things the way he wants. And what that includes is holding actual conversations with his celebrity guests rather than simply giving them a forum to promote their latest project or trot out a few well-worn anecdotes.
“ Publicists work out what we’ll say and who’s gonna ask what,” he said of the traditional talk-show mode. “ I’ll ask you ‘ Oh, you bought a house?’ And you say ‘ Yeah, I just moved and I got a dog’. And I’ll say ‘ Tell me about the dog. Is it named Spunky?’ And you’ll say ‘ Yeah, Spunky!’ I don’t do that.”
Instead, he looks for guests who tend to be “ generous of spirit”. approach. “ But it’s not literally dangerous in a real sense,” he laughed. “ It’s not Deadliest Catch or anything. It’s just that somebody may get embarrassed. It’s pretty much dead set that someone is going to be embarrassed by the end of the show. And if someone really clams up, I just keep talking. I try to help them. It doesn’t happen as often as you think because if you make people comfortable they tend to open up a little bit.”
And while he’s keen on keeping his guests chatty and comfortable, it would seem that Ferguson is equally keen on doing the same for himself to keep his audience entertained.
“ One of the luxuries of doing a television show every night is that it’s almost like you have an outlet for just broadcasting your thoughts,” he said.
“ There’s a part of it which is retro in the sense that it’s someone just talking on television. Another part of it is extremely contemporary because it really is the broadcast of my unedited thoughts, mistakes and all. I am my own blooper reel – what you see is what you get.”