Craig Ferguson is a Scottish comedian who has progressed through show business as a drummer, stand-up comic, television and movie star and author. He became known in America after he moved there in 1995, eventually landing the roll of Nigel Wick on The Drew Carey Show, then in 2005 he replaced Craig Kilborn as the host of CBS's The Late Late Show, a late-night comedy and talk show which airs at 12.35am in America, directly after The Late Show With David Letterman.
Ferguson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 17 May, 1962. He dropped out of high school in his mid-teens. In the early 1980s he was the drummer1 in a punk band called The B*stards From Hell. He eventually turned to improv and stand-up comedy, going by the stage name Bing Hitler. His first television work involved writing for The Russ Abbot Show, and his first on-screen appearance was in an episode of Red Dwarf. In 1989 he was cast to play a teacher in an American TV series called High, which would have also starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Zach Braff, future star of Scrubs, but the pilot was not successful.
In 1990 he starred in The Craig Ferguson Show, a sketch show, and in the same year performed in a West End production of The Rocky Horror Show as Brad. He was also the host of Dirt Detective, an educational series about archaeology, and was in another sketch show, The Ferguson Theory.
I haven't had a drink in 13 years. But occasionally I'm tempted to have one beer. The problem is that if I have that one beer, I wake up in Tijuana four days later with a tattoo and a sore ass.
Until 1992 Ferguson was an alcoholic, which was often obvious in his early stand-up and television shows, as he seemed a bit drunk and angry, often shouting and ranting about things like how stupid animals are2. After a night of heavy drinking on Christmas Eve, he passed out upstairs in a pub in London, waking on Christmas morning soaked in his own urine3. He then planned to kill himself by jumping off Tower Bridge. Fortunately, this didn't happen after all. He soon sobered up and hasn't had a drink in over ten years.
The Drew Carey Show
After moving to America he was in a short-lived sitcom Maybe This Time. After it was cancelled he was transferred to another sitcom, and so from 1996 to 2003 Ferguson costarred in The Drew Carey Show as Mr Wick, Drew's eccentric English boss. Some of the funniest Mr Wick moments in the show include: Mr Wick and the other male characters performing a strip to the song 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet' by Bachman-Turner Overdrive; forming a civil union with Drew so Mr Wick could obtain his Green Card; and getting shot in the crotch with a crossbow and having a testicle removed.
I think I'll be Scottish in every movie I write. They always try to talk me out of it, but Woody Allen is always a nebbish New Yorker. Why shouldn't I be a goofy Glaswegian?
Ferguson has so far starred in three motion pictures, all of which he wrote or co-wrote: The Big Tease (1999), about a Scottish hairdresser, Saving Grace (2000), and I'll Be There (2003), which he also directed, earning him 'Best New Director' at the Napa Valley Film Festival. I'll Be There also won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Dallas, Aspen and Valencia Film Festivals. Ferguson has appeared in other films in smaller roles, including A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), as the Person of Inderminate Gender, and had a cameo as 'Fisherman #1' in the TV movie Vampire Bats.
The Late Late Show
It's hard to stay up
It's been a long, long day and you got the sandman at the door
But hang on, leave the TV on and let's do it anyway
It's OK, you can always sleep through work tomorrow, OK?
Hey hey, tomorrow's just a future yesterday
In 2005, after being an occasional guest host, Ferguson became the host of The Late Late Show, taped in Los Angeles in the same building as The Price is Right4. He starts the show with very long, mostly unscripted monologues, using catchphrases like 'It's a great day for America', 'You too, ladies', and after describing something in a somewhat erotically ambiguous way, he gets up close to the camera and says, sexily, 'Remind you of anyone?' meaning himself.
In the next part of the show, after a commercial break, he welcomes back the viewers with 'Hello, my naughty little monkeys,' or 'My frisky little ponies,' or similar, accompanied by a whipcrack sound effect. He will then go to other segments such as reading viewers' emails, and interviewing impersonators of people like Arnold Schwarzenegger or George W Bush. He also does his own celebrity impersonations, particularly of Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Caine and Sean Connery. Ferguson received an Emmy nomination for hosting The Late Late Show.
Voice Acting and other Television Appearances
Ferguson has appeared as a guest on other talk shows. Additionally, he hosted the 32nd People's Choice Awards and has lent his voice to these animated shows:
- The Wild Thornberrys
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
- American Dad!
Between the Bridge and the River
2006 saw the publication of his first novel, Between the Bridge and the River, which got great reviews. It follows the story of Fraser and George, two childhood friends from Scotland, and Saul and Leon, two brothers from the southern US, along with a supporting cast including Carl Jung and the poet Virgil. Ferguson said he has no interest in the novel being 'butchered by moviemakers'.
Ferguson has married and divorced twice. From his second marriage he has one son, Milo, born in 2001. Between the Bridge and the River is dedicated to his son, along with his great-grandfather, Adam. Ferguson shares custody of Milo with his ex-wife, both of whom live in Los Angeles. His sister, Lynn Ferguson, is also an actor, probably most recognisable as the voice of Mac in the film Chicken Run. Ferguson's father died in 2006, and he devoted an entire episode of The Late Late Show to him.
Currently, Ferguson is awaiting approval for citizenship of the United States. However, in the meantime he was made an 'honorary citizen' of several towns and states across the country. This started in 2007 when he was made an honorary citizen of Ozark, Arkansas after he mentioned the town's name on television, complimenting their delicious catfish. After that, he asked his viewers to suggest to their mayors that they follow suit. Places including North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Texas, Nevada and Trenton, and New Jersey have all honoured him with 'legally meaningless' (his words) citizenship.