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.

Craig Ferguson’s A Wee Bit O’ Revolution

DVD REVIEW

Title: A Wee Bit O’ Revolution
Studio/Distributor: Image Entertainment
Director: Shannon Hartman
Principle Cast: Craig Ferguson
Length: 80 minutes
Released: 2009
Stars: 4.0

Actor, stand-up comedian, writer, director, producer, host of The Late Late Show on CBS since January 2005, new American citizen, and the Glaswegian with the self-professed huge c**k; Craig Ferguson, has finally released an 80 minute DVD of his stand-up comedy and it has left me wanting much, much more. Filmed in July, 2008 at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, A Wee Bit O’ Revolution stands up very well to frequent viewings. TV’s Craig Ferguson, uncensored, is undeniably sexy and uproarious! There is a reason why he is the best thing that ever happened to late night television. His off-the-cuff monologues are totally unique and refreshing as is his self-deprecating sense of humor, double entendres, honesty, sensitivity, and willingness to share intimate parts of his life. Given the creative license to say whatever he wants in A Wee Bit O’ Revolution, Craig sets his audience on fire with his clever, witty observations about everything from his own mother, to Sean Connery (who he often brilliantly impersonates), to attending birthing classes in LA with his ex-wife before the arrival of his son Milo (who is now seven).

Craig Ferguson, son of Robert and Janet Ferguson, brother to Lynn, Janice and Scott, is an alcoholic, and did his time in rehab 17 years ago. He came to America in 1995 and headed straight for Hollywood. After several auditions that went nowhere, he landed the role of Nigel Wick on The Drew Carey Show and has never looked back. You could say that he’s never had to worry about having only 27 cents in his bank account since, although he may claim that the alimony he pays keeps that account from reaching its potential.

Craig, who had his own BBC comedy show called The Ferguson Theory (1994), has also starred in several terrific projects for which he either wrote the screenplay, or wrote, directed and/or produced the film including: The Big Tease (1999), Saving Grace (2000) and I’ll Be There (2003).

A Wee Bit O’ Revolution opens with Craig expressing how excited he is to be FINALLY playing the Wilbur Theatre in Boston; a city full of surly drunks, but, “That’s my family you’re talking about!” He talks about his love of America, becoming a US citizen last year and within a few months hosting the White House Correspondent Dinner and meeting George W. Bush, the least popular president in the history of America. Already, I’m laughing out loud, and when he lovingly describes his mother’s insane love of America and the crazy things that she’d say to him as a child and states, “She’s like an acid casualty who never took acid”, I just can’t stop laughing.

A particular highlight involves Craig reminiscing about attending his first rock concert (Blue Oyster Cult) at age 13, on his maiden voyage to the States to visit family. It was the occasion on which he smoked his first joint and when he had his “light bulb moment.” “From this moment on, I will dedicate my life to drugs and rock’n’roll.” Even more hilarious is his recount of going to see Deep Purple in concert and after months of anticipation, taking a hit of chloroform at the beginning of the show, passing out immediately, and missing the whole thing! He talks about the shame of eating pizza while on heroin and that his particular addiction was for cocaine and alcohol and how that translated to status in the rehab dynamic. One of my favourite lines from that section is, “Get yourself a sex addict! Those people can’t do enough for you.” Later, while discussing hotel porn, he declares, “Ah, the frugal orgasm…for a Scotsman there is nothing finer!”

Craig riffs on his early years in Hollywood, The Drew Carey Show, his Jewish/Scottish wedding, huge c**k (Oh, did I mention that already?), success in Hollywood, Tom Cruise (“I’m sorry, that’s twelve feet of crazy in a four foot man!”) and his interview with Matt Lauer wherein he criticized Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants while suffering from post partum depression. Oprah, the plastic surgery epidemic in LA and the craziness of new age spiritual birthing classes rounded out the show. I was disappointed that his show ended rather abruptly and felt it was just a bit short, but that didn’t stop me from watching repeatedly.

The special features on the DVD include an interview with Craig in Boston by the water (which looks like something you’d see on a local cable television station) and his heartfelt, patriotic speech, at Faneuil Hall on the 4th of July, about what it means to him to be an American citizen. They aren’t great special features but it doesn’t really matter because they are not what you’ll want to watch over and over again. A Wee Bit O’ Revolution is a must have DVD for every fan of stand-up comedy and of TV’s Craig Ferguson.

Enjoy a clip from A Wee Bit O’ Revolution on YouTube!