Craig Ferguson: The King of Late Night Makes Merry at Massey Hall

“Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now?” ~ Photo by Ekaterina Ryabova

Live Performance Review
Show: Craig Ferguson
Venue: Massey Hall
Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: April 23, 2009
Stars: 4.5

I am a member of the Robot Skeleton Army. I’m not a t-shirt wearing member, but I am one all the same. For those of you who are thinking, “WTF?!” This means that I’m a faithful follower of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to the point that I follow @CraigyFerg on Twitter (check da tweets!) along with his legion of hollowed out volcano dwellers. Last night I had the almost phantasmagorical pleasure of attending Craig’s 9:30 pm stand-up comedy show at Massey Hall in Toronto and 8 hours after I crashed last night, my face still aches from laughing and my retinas are still burning from the sight of him in tight white jeans, blue t-shirt and black leather jacket.

My friend Teresa and I arrived in Toronto before 6:00 pm, in time to join the line-up of die-hard fans gathered around the stage door of

@MFLoyalBekah, @Fergusonlicious and @ScullyLovePromo outside stage door at Massey Hall

Massey Hall on Victoria Street, waiting for a glimpse of Craig and hoping to hit pay dirt by getting him to autograph their copies of American On Purpose and pose for a photo with them. Teresa humoured me and we united with them and stood there for almost an hour praying for the same opportunity. I met some incredibly sweet and dedicated young fans who over the course of the evening must have waited for him for 4 hours only to have him slip out a different exit and escape without having to talk to them. I’m not that dedicated, but then again, I’m 46 years old and tired; but I have to say that my heart broke a little for them. Bekah was wearing her Robot Skeleton Army t-shirt and holding a Wavy the crocodile puppet (which I coveted) and her friends clasped their copies of American on Purpose to their chests and waited ever so patiently. I also met a lovely woman of my own age who came from St. Catharine’s by herself, courtesy of her husband’s birthday gift to her, and told me that Craig read her email on the show. Fans certainly know the significance of that!

The all-ages audience crammed themselves into the atrocious, 18”, dirty, torn seats at the once glorious Massey Hall and was treated to an unparalleled evening of jocularity.

Ferguson’s regular warm-up man, Randy Kagan, opened the show with his own intro, singing Craig’s praises. “Craig’s a great guy but the bastard forced me to get sober!” Kagan admitted to being a weed addict who got stoned every single day for the past 20 years and commented that it was ironic that he was now in Canada, a country with a leaf on its flag, and he couldn’t get high. After 92 days of sobriety, he seemed to struggle to find his comfort zone with the audience, consulting note cards left on a stool to keep him on track. He was very funny for

Poor quality iPhone photo of me with Randy Kagan

much of his act which covered bits about women with all their piercings and orifices; his attraction for grandmas; his girlfriend’s Feng Shui habit which to him means “gullible round eye” and makes him feel like he’s paying a lot of “pussy tax”; and the trials of being “fame adjacent.” He declared that while Craig goes for expensive Swedish massages, he can’t afford them so he has a German massage instead: “a kick in the balls and a strudel.” He also riffed about gays and the fact that they should have their own state as well as sex and midgets and other somewhat off-colour topics. He sometimes pushed the taste envelope just a bit too far and the audience didn’t know whether to laugh or moan. This is, after all, CANADA, and we are very polite, multicultural and tolerant here (but we don’t actually eat only bacon and maple syrup).

Next up, Chris Saladin pranced out onto the stage wearing his leather S&M outfit from the show while playing the flute, followed by a saxophone touting Jeff Arnold and then Craig joined them for a bit of lip synching song and dance before announcing, “It’s a great day for Canada everybody!”

Craig immediately questioned his decision to wear white jeans, claiming that he looked like a gay painter and then quickly instigated his cuss-happy routine while proclaiming that there would be no “ooh la las” censoring him tonight.

He talked about his love of Canada and cussing, the strange heavy metal band called Stag that he was in when he was 15 that was so uncool it had a clarinet player (him), and his son following him around the house with a swear jar. He compared his own sex education in Scotland (a Scottish gynecologist won’t even talk about sex!) to his 9-year-old son’s and admitted that he’s very old fashioned about sex and then went on to revisit the glee in being a late night talk show host whose job it is to joke about Hollywood sex scandals. He covered Tiger Woods, Kevin Costner, and David Letterman (“David, you just had open heart surgery and you’re banging the staff? You magnificent bastard!”) before changing the subject to Hollywood egos and why Kate Winslet will never be on his show. He revisited the famous Fabio goose incident and declared that he can prove the existence of God: Sigfried and Roy! Two gay, Austrian, lion tamers who meet and fall in love…”What are the odds of that?!”

From the dangers of sex tapes to why he loves Larry King: “…because he doesn’t give a fuck! He’ll look you in the eye, fart, and doesn’t even break eye contact!” to the miracle that is 91-year-old Andy Rooney, Googling himself, his psychic parents, and the three questions one should consider before posting crap on the internet that took him three marriages to learn to ask: “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now?”

The show ended far too soon in my opinion (or was it just the fact that time flies when you’re laughing until your face aches?) with a merriment-inducing reenactment by Ferguson, Saladin and Arnold of the infamous Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” lip-synching number on the LLS. Sadly, no amount of cries of don’t go could bring Ferguson back for more.

Craig Ferguson’s standup is often repetitive of his LLS monologues but much spicier without the censors and his energy and charm is so electrifying that you can’t take your eyes off him. There’s a good reason why he’s the King of late night television and everyone who saw his shows in Toronto last night knows exactly why.

Souvenir purchased from a Toronto street artist and sadly not signed by Craig!

American On Purpose: The Improbable Adventures Of An Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson

Book Review 
Title: American on Purpose
Author:  Craig Ferguson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: September 22, 2009
Pages: 288
ISBN 10 – 0061719544
ISBN 13 – 978-0061719547
Stars:  4.0

I have been a fan of CBS’ The Late Late Show host, Craig Ferguson, since I first saw him in the 1999 film, The Big Tease, followed by 2000’s Saving Grace: a gem of a comedy written, co-produced, and starring Ferguson that has since become one of my all-time favourites. I never really watched him play Drew Carey’s drunken boss, Nigel Wick, on The Drew Carey Show (1996-2003), although I might have caught the odd episode, but I have been watching him faithfully on The Late Late Show since July 2005.

Craig Ferguson is a wonderful actor and one of Britain’s (and America’s) leading comedians, who has written and performed three albums of stand-up comedy, as well as this year’s DVD – “A Wee Bit O’ Revolution” – filmed at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. His self-deprecating humour is infectious and almost no subject in his own life is taboo. He’ll discuss everything from his personal vacations, to his failed marriages, lust for Beyoncé, enormous penis, and past alcohol and drug addiction. He’s often “irreverently outrageous, but never mean-spirited,” and he can just as easily make you cry with his emotional intelligence and integrity.

Craig is an exceptionally fine writer and in 2006, his first novel, entitled Between The Bridge and The River was published, receiving impressive sales and positive critical reviews. His latest effort, American On Purpose, is an autobiography, and although I knew about a lot of what was shared in the book because I watch his show regularly, I was still mesmerized by his elegant prose and didn’t want to put it down.

American On Purpose is a poignant and positively witty memoir that begins with an auspicious invitation to perform at the 2008 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in front of the least popular President in the history of the United States, and then revisits 46 of his tumultuous years on the planet in a very fast-paced, enthralling manner. Craig, who is candid about his 15 years as a blackout drunk, was exceptionally careful about what he revealed about his life and sometimes changed names to protect those who might now be uncomfortable or offended if he hadn’t. I was a bit disappointed that he simply wrote that he’d dated some well-known actresses before he met and married his third bride, Megan Wallace-Cunningham, but never revealed who any of them were. He did speak very respectfully and lovingly of all of the serious relationships he had with the women who came before Megan, and I was especially moved by the last chapter in the book in which he talks about the death of his mother in 2008. If anything, I found when I’d finished reading American on Purpose that I was selfishly wanting more details about this remarkable man.

This hardworking, insecure Scottish immigrant who loves the philosophical and emotional concept of America never spares himself: whom he refers to as an uncool, “middle-aged white man with graying hair, a thickening waist, and a creepy laugh.” No matter how much therapy he’s had, or how successful he’s become in many areas of his life, he can’t quite believe that it’s as a result of his own talent and strength of character (which it undoubtedly is!).

“…I’m still doing lame comedy now and the show is doing great. Maybe that’s because it’s my lame comedy. I am my lame self and make the lame comedy my own.”

Craig Ferguson is only two years older than me, and he came of age in the same, debaucherous decade that I did. I can relate to the feelings and experiences that led him from the dreary back streets of Cumbernauld and his intoxicated, punk rock youth, to the relief he felt at being able to pay off over $250,000 of debt after 7 years of sobriety, and his incredulity at now owning a home with a swimming pool in Hollywood, and being a protective, loving father to his 8-year-old son, Milo. For a self-professed control freak, this man is honest, diligent, intelligent, handsome, funny, kind, and sensitive, and there is nothing that I read in American On Purpose that will convince me otherwise.

If you’re not already aware of the incandescent beauty that is TV’s Craig Ferguson, you are really missing out, because every day that Craig Ferguson is on the air is a great day for America! I will wait with anticipation for more of his brilliant writing in the future.