Craig Ferguson's Last Monologue On The Late Late Show

Craig Ferguson 2013 01 18 Carrie Fisher, Steven Yeun

Tune in on any given night of his Late Late Show tenure—on which you might have seen, say, a gay robot skeleton sidekick named Geoff dancing along with Ferguson and a pantomime horse—and you got a sense of his madcap rebel streak.

Tune in on any given night of his Late Late Show tenure—on which you might have seen, say, a gay robot skeleton sidekick named Geoff dancing along with Ferguson and a pantomime horse—and you got a sense of his madcap rebel streak.

Rewatch his poignant monologue recounting his history of alcoholism and journey to sobriety, which culminates in a pledge not to ridicule Britney Spears at the height of her shaved-head meltdown. And I find it easy to access an emotional vein if I go with personal stories. Ferguson tees off on everything from transubstantiation—the Catholic belief that the biscuit turns into the body of Christ—to Kenny G. As he recounted in his memoir American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, he grew up chubby and bullied in a dodgy suburb of Glasgow—a childhood that makes a comedy career a thing of destiny—and played in a punk band called the Dreamboys with fellow now-successful actor Peter Capaldi, who encouraged him to try out comedy.

His rise on the comedy circuit coincided with a descent to rock bottom addiction. Rehab soon followed, and the specificity with which Ferguson divulges all of this has influenced his fans to quit drinking themselves. With his unorthodox approach to the genre, it quickly became the case that more than his brogue set him apart from his late-night peers. His largely ad-libbed monologue each night eschewed the easy one-liners favored by most hosts.

Idiosyncratic, sometimes rambling, and almost effortlessly engaging, these monologues seemed as if they were occurring to him on the spot. His interviews with guests were similarly unscripted, with Ferguson forgoing prepared questions to the point of literally tearing up his note cards before each interview.

Some celebrity guests found this jarring. Others, like Kristen Bell and Mindy Kaling, began each appearance by gushing about how it made his their favorite show to visit. I felt… pigeonholed is too strong a word.

But I felt that I wanted to do something different. Will I do game shows forever?

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