Craig Ferguson, I Love You But This Needs To Be Said!

DVD REVIEW

Title: Craig Ferguson: Does This Need To Be Said?
Studio/Distributor: Comedy Central
Director: Keith Truesdell
Principle Cast: Craig Ferguson, Jeff Arnold, Chris Saladin
Length: 65 minutes
Released: 2010
Stars: 3.0

Well Craig, as a fan of over ten years, and someone who has watched The Late Late Show regularly for seven seasons since you’ve been the host, I’d say that most of what you deliver in Does This Need To Be Said?, (Comedy Central’s stand-up special featuring you) has already been said by you before.  I’ve seen your stand-up show twice and the material on this DVD is nothing new.  However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t funny and entertaining.  Fresh, it isn’t.  Charming, you definitely are!

Being able to play your dancing & lip-synching performance of Oops! I Did It Again by Britney Spears over and over again at the end of your routine is worth the price of the DVD alone.  In fact, I wish you’d release a DVD collection of all your dancing & lip-synching performances with the puppets and staff that you’ve showcased on The Late Late Show because they’re awesome!  They make us grin from ear to ear, laugh out loud, and want to sing along all at the same time.  And while I have this opportunity, it’s time to get rid of that freakin’ robot already!!

Okay, now where was I?

Does This Need To Be Said? opens with Craig receiving a standing ovation from a packed Nashville theatre, while he prances around the stage to the song I’ve Got The Strangest Feeling and Chris Saladin (a.k.a. “Gunther”), in a white pseudo-bondage ensemble, fingers a flute as the classy Jeff Arnold swings his saxophone.  Ferguson’s first words to the audience are his signature, “It’s a great day for America everybody!”  After which he makes up for not being able to say f**k on his show by cussing incessantly in his charismatic way.  Sadly, it’s true that Ferguson is losing the edges of his celebrated burr and now sounds more American than Scottish, but that doesn’t detract from his delivery.  It’s just that if he’s not the Scottish comedian we’ve all come to know and love, who is he (an actor, a writer, a minion of CBS)?

Craig tells the audience that he’s there to tell them a dirty joke and he does, but not before taking 60 minutes to review his wayward youth, in which he was a member of a heavy metal band called Stag.  He riffs about the Pope; talks about talking to his 9½ year old son about sex (who carries a swear jar around after his father, in which he’s raising his college tuition); comments on Charlie Sheen; and describes how two toads taught him everything he knows about sex education.  He also offers a series of comedic vignettes on famous celebrity sex scandals including Tiger Woods, Kevin Costner and his boss, David Letterman.  Craig revisits the best day he ever had at work: when he heard that Dick Cheney had shot his lawyer in the face; the reason why Kate Winslet will never be on his show; the tale of Fabio getting hit in the head by a goose; proof of the existence of God (Siegfried & Roy – say no more!), why he loves Larry King; the horror of realizing that his balls are leaving him; the complexities of the Internet; what it’s like to be married to a woman from a posh Yankee family; and recounting his life as an alcoholic.  Did I laugh?  Hell, yeah!

The extras on this DVD – a short film of Craig arriving in Nashville and an unknown fan’s rap session about him – are boring and didn’t need to be included, but that’s not why you’d buy Does It Need To Be Said? The Full Concert Experience anyway.

As other people have said before, Craig is a positive comedian who doesn’t hurt or offend people with his humour (at least most of the time, but then there was that incident with Kevin Costner!) and yet still manages to come off as a boisterous, swearing, somewhat perverted middle-aged man.  But he pokes fun at himself more than anyone else and we can definitely see the humour in that.

What I know to be true about Craig Ferguson is that he is a wonderful, highly intelligent, multi-talented man who has the ability to move people in many different ways but for some reason he’s choosing to lean on what’s worked for laughs in the past and hasn’t created anything new and exciting in a while.  And I think it’s time for him to do that.  This man has so much heart, soul and brain power that he should have won every performance award out there by now.  Even with the same old lame gags on The Late Late Show, he’s still one of the most interesting people on television.  If you saw him interview Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Dr. Cornell West, you’ll know what I mean.  So imagine what he could do if he sat down and wrote some new material!

I’d like to see Craig take a risk and push the envelope more with his comedy.  I know he’s as much of a fan of Billy Connolly as I am, and I’d like to see him be as daring with his presentation.  His swearing doesn’t bother me, because as he said, he’s a friendly cusser and swears in good humour, but it’s the resting on his laurels that does bother me.  Craig, don’t be afraid to attract a wider audience.  While I love a double entendre as much as anyone, you’re not just a foul-mouthed Scotsman and I don’t want you to dumb down your act for the masses.  Be true to yourself and let your intellect shine!

Maybe you just need to have some new experiences to share…

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!

The Truth About Social Media

This morning I was reading a blog about social media on my new friend, Jennifer Chandler’s, Esteem Rising blog and it got me thinking about how much other people are just as overwhelmed by all of the different social media networking sites as I am, and I work with them on a regular basis.

There are a ton of sites out there and each one professes to be the best possible one you could sign up with to achieve your social networking goals, when in reality, they’re created and run by people who want to make the big bucks like the creators of MySpace and Facebook do. Bebo is also extremely popular, but it currently ranks third after Facebook and MySpace and you have to decide how many sites you have time for. Everyone has a different opinion but for a 2010 Social Networking Websites Review, click here and here.

I started my social media experience with MySpace over 5 years ago because I’m a huge music fan. I often discover new, unsigned, indie talent on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and I can almost always go to MySpace and find out more about the musician or band and hear more of their music. I had a lot of fun there discovering new music that I have come to love. It’s also fun to sometimes be able to actually correspond with the artist behind the profile. I used to write CD reviews quite prolifically for PartyinKingston.com (I still do, but they are infrequent now due to time constraints.) and being on MySpace was a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know new artists that I wanted to write about. I am still on MySpace, but don’t spend as much time there anymore, again, due to a lack of time.

A writer friend of mine who is also a singer just wrote a blog on MySpace (where she has a devout group of followers) about the fact that she went kicking and screaming back to Facebook and re-joined, but she doesn’t like it. So this is what I wrote to her:

“As someone who loves Facebook, I’m sorry to hear you say you’re there but would rather not be. I have made the acquaintance of some really great people there and for some reason it just seems easier to leave a comment on someone’s wall or comment on something they’ve posted there, than it is here. I don’t get involved with the applications for the most part and I don’t have to spend time looking for pretty pictures to post on people’s comments and cut and paste codes; all I have to do is type. It’s also a great place to share photos, even better than MySpace in my humble opinion, and the page loading time is way faster than it is here. The more things you embed into your profile here on MySpace, the longer it takes for the page to load and in this day and age when everyone’s busy and trying to network as quickly as possible, MySpace is a little antiquated. You can read the News Feed faster on FB than you can go through everyone’s bulletins or blogs here (and you can’t even see bulletins here anymore if you have over 2000 friends). You can also post links really easily, without having to get HTML code from somewhere else first. You just type in the URL or cut and paste it in, and voila! I think it’s just a more efficient and user friendly social networking platform and the creators are constantly updating it to try to make it better. They also have a very strict anti-spam policy there so you’re almost never bombarded with unwelcome email.

MySpace is great for many things, don’t get me wrong, but you should give Facebook a fair chance. That’s kind of synchronistic that FB suggested your ex-husband as a friend. It’s probably because he’s linked to someone you’re friends with there. It’s just as easy to set your privacy settings tightly and block people who bug you there as it is here, but I have only ever blocked two people in the last 3 1/2 years that I’ve been on it and I haven’t had any of the unwelcome lecherous dating type comments or emails from men who can’t even type or spell one sentence correctly who are constantly emailing me here and asking me to chat with them on IM. No matter how many times I’ve posted that I’m not on MySpace for dating, no one seems to read it. I have found the men on Facebook whom I’ve connected with as friends to be far more respectful and I have many, many real life friends who are on it that I want to stay in touch with and almost none of them are on MySpace. So for those reasons and more, I prefer it there. But I come back here to read your blogs!”

That’s why I prefer Facebook to MySpace, but I have also recently become much more aware of the merits of LinkedIn which I wrote about in a recent blog. I also use Twitter, but not as much, and you can link your accounts on all these sites so that when you update your status on one of them, it is immediately included on all of your sites. A real time-saver! I truly believe that the most popular social media sites, which are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter (closely followed by LinkedIn) are the important ones for authors and musicians to be on if they are trying to promote their work. They are also useful for many other types of businesses and they really can help you to expand your client/fan base.

Authors should also join one of the major book appreciator sites like Shelfari, Good Reads, Library Thing, Book Blogs, Amazon or Chapters.Indigo.ca (which is my personal favourite). You don’t have to be on all of them. Spreading yourself too thin doesn’t really accomplish anything. Believe me, I’ve learned that and am still in the process of making changes to pare down and pay more attention to the people I really enjoy! You can’t be effective when you don’t have the time to get to know the people you’re connected with on all of those social media sites. You have to choose the ones that you like the most or that are specifically geared towards your career (MySpace is excellent for musicians; LinkedIn is excellent for career professionals; Facebook is great for everyone!) and stick with them. And remember that more is not necessarily better. It’s much more effective to have a smaller base of contacts with people you have things in common with and actually correspond with and who show an interest in what you have to say, than a whole bunch of people who are there but you never communicate with.

I have had to join many different social media sites in order to learn about them and work with them for my clients, but in all honesty, the ones I spend the most time on lately are Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Twitter is fun for a while. It’s like being a fly on the wall and listening in on snippets of people’s conversations. You have 140 characters to express what you want to say in one post and most people use it to post links to other sites and things that they want you to see. It’s fun to follow some celebrities who have interesting things to talk about (and some of them don’t!) and it certainly is a way to get news quickly by checking out which topics are trending at any given time, but as a means of positive and effective two way communication, you still can’t beat a meeting in-person or with someone over the telephone.

The truth about social media is that it is as effective as you have time to make it be effective. It’s ever evolving and often quite interesting. It’s all about establishing relationships with people you have things in common with and whom you respect and admire and once that relationship is formed, you have the opportunity to tell them about what you do (and like) and about what others do and they just might listen and take your advice. I am constantly learning new things about what to do and what not to do every single day. So as a person who works with social media, I am an ever evolving work-in-progress too.

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!