The Last White House Correspondents Dinner Worth Watching

 

…was with Craig Ferguson as the comic headliner in 2008. He dished out elbows and barbs all around, speaking with the passion of a brand-new American citizen — American on Purpose. See how he lures the assembled journalists into revealing their overwhelming liberal bias and nails them with a one-liner at 10:10. He was not invited back.

If you haven’t seen him before, his “Late Late Show” monologue after the weekend Britney Spears went off the rails is masterful. He calls out himself and his profession for reveling in a young woman’s self-destruction and then launches into the story of his last Christmas as a drinking man. “A venti sherry” Christmas morning stopped him on his way to killing himself. Self-deprecating humor drove home his plea, after 15 years of sobriety, for those in trouble to seek groups offering free help. “They are very easy to find, they’re very near the front of the telephone book.”

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Both clips were well worth watching.

    • #1
  2. TempTime Member
    TempTime
    @TempTime

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Both clips were well worth watching.

    Agree completely.  Thanks for the links Clifford.

    • #2
  3. TedRudolph Inactive
    TedRudolph
    @TedRudolph

    Ferguson was always an acquired taste (when he was “on” he was outstanding…. other times he could be cringeworthy). But I suspect he may have been the last non-partisan after-hours host on TV. I’m sure his Scottish background made his political philosophies hard to categorize anyway.

    He was definitely proud of his country – he had the famous Revolutionary War “divided snake” drawing tattooed on his arm, along with other 1770s era images.

    His monolog on the 5th anniversary of 9/11 was also excellent

    I’ve always wondered if his retirement from Late Night was because he saw the trend that was coming with the addition of hyper-partisan Colbert as his lead-in.

     

    • #3
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    TedRudolph (View Comment):

    Ferguson was always an acquired taste (when he was “on” he was outstanding…. other times he could be cringeworthy). But I suspect he may have been the last non-partisan after-hours host on TV. I’m sure his Scottish background made his political philosophies hard to categorize anyway.

    He was definitely proud of his country – he had the famous Revolutionary War “divided snake” drawing tattooed on his arm, along with other 1770s era images.

    His monolog on the 5th anniversary of 9/11 was also excellent

    I’ve always wondered if his retirement from Late Night was because he saw the trend that was coming with the addition of hyper-partisan Colbert as his lead-in.

    Completely concur, thanks for recalling the 9/11 anniversary monologue. I bought his short memoir when it came out, linked in OP, and highly recommend it. I wonder if he really retired or was pushed out. You can hear the uneasy relationship with “the suits” at CBS as he slips in lines about his employment.

    • #4
  5. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Funny without being mean-spirited. How refreshing.

    • #5
  6. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    TedRudolph (View Comment):

    He was definitely proud of his country – he had the famous Revolutionary War “divided snake” drawing tattooed on his arm, along with other 1770s era images.

    I was not aware of this.  Ferguson hosted the massive Boston Pops July 4th event in Boston for a few years, and I recall one in particular where he may have sampled some of his native country’s most famous product during the evening.  But he was pleasant and capable in his appearances.

    This is worth a watch if one has a few minutes to spare.

    • #6
  7. TedRudolph Inactive
    TedRudolph
    @TedRudolph

    The US entertainment industry needs more Craig Fergusons and fewer condescending jerks like John Oliver….

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    TedRudolph (View Comment):

    He was definitely proud of his country – he had the famous Revolutionary War “divided snake” drawing tattooed on his arm, along with other 1770s era images.

    I was not aware of this. Ferguson hosted the massive Boston Pops July 4th event in Boston for a few years, and I recall one in particular where he may have sampled some of his native country’s most famous product during the evening. But he was pleasant and capable in his appearances.

    This is worth a watch if one has a few minutes to spare.

    Thanks. I did not remember that one. I’ve bookmarked it for this Independence Day.

    • #8
  9. CarolJoy Coolidge
    CarolJoy
    @CarolJoy

    People often feel that the decline of America came about due to liberal ascendancy in the WH, circa 2008. Sure that was a huge problem, but I will always feel that Craig retiring from the Late Late Night Show altered the Space Time fabric to the ultimate crisis  point that has led us to where we are now.

    • #9
  10. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    I loved Bushs face when he heard the conclusion of liberal bias.  

    • #10
  11. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Also their may come a time when a first lady becomes President.  Not this year…

    • #11
  12. Julia1492 Member
    Julia1492
    @Julia1492

    This was marvelous. His statements about becoming a citizen were funny but also moving. He dished it out evenly all around, and oh gosh, to have a president who can tolerate being the point of the joke again…*sigh* Thanks so much for posting. 

    • #12
  13. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    I’ve always wondered if his retirement from Late Night was because he saw the trend that was coming with the addition of hyper-partisan Colbert as his lead-in.

    I wonder if he really retired or was pushed out.

    Hard to say.  As I recall, he told his bosses he was quitting right around the time they began to search for Letterman’s replacement, so most likely either:

    1. They offered him the gig and he turned them down or
    2. They told him he wasn’t getting Letterman’s job, they were going another direction, so he quit

    I miss him, he was the only late-night host I’ve ever watched (semi-)regularly.  Well, unless you count Greg Gutfeld and Red Eye…

     

    • #13
  14. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    That was legitimately funny, literally laughing out loud at parts.

    • #14
  15. TedRudolph Inactive
    TedRudolph
    @TedRudolph

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Hard to say. As I recall, he told his bosses he was quitting right around the time they began to search for Letterman’s replacement, so most likely either:

    1. They offered him the gig and he turned them down or
    2. They told him he wasn’t getting Letterman’s job, they were going another direction, so he quit

    I miss him, he was the only late-night host I’ve ever watched (semi-)regularly. Well, unless you count Greg Gutfeld and Red Eye…

    I remember an interview long before Letterman’s retirement – perhaps in reaction to the Leno / Conan mess – where Ferguson was rather adamant that he did not want the earlier time slot.  He said there was no way his show would appeal to the broader demographic and he didn’t think he could change to match those tastes anyway.  He seemed pretty genuine about it at the time.

    I suspect he – like his predecessor – had become burned out with the routine.  Or didn’t like Colbert.  I know the production company for the show changed from World Wide Pants to CBS directly, so it’s also possible that the CBS brass figured it was time for a change.

    I was always impressed with his interviews, not because they were anything special (he had his ups & downs) but because he would toss away the little “blue prep cards” when the guest walked out so the conversation would be much more freewheeling. I know there were some guests that wouldn’t appear on his show simply because they (or more likely their publicist) didn’t want an interview that was unscripted.

    Conversely a quick-witted guest could really shine under those circumstances. Kristen Bell was an outstanding example: their interviews are also worth looking up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6szmNx6nA4Y https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq9z1gNjl0o)

    Interestingly, Ferguson’s Late Late Show predecessor Craig Kilborn was also a quirky personality that was unpredictable in both style and appeal. And in a potential coincidence,  before hosting the Late Late Show he quit the show he created on Comedy Central because the new owners (HBO) wanted to force him to be more political. He always maintained there was enough political content in people’s everyday lives and he wanted his show to simply parody the non-political stories common to small-town news. When Kilborn left Comedy Central, that show took a decidedly different turn….

    • #15
  16. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    TedRudolph (View Comment):
    He said there was no way his show would appeal to the broader demographic and he didn’t think he could change to match those tastes anyway. He seemed pretty genuine about it at the time.

    I think he was right about that, too.  His shtick on the Late Late Show was that the show couldn’t afford a band, couldn’t even afford a real human side-kick.  He also tried things like puppet shows with a sort of “no one’s watching this late at night so I can get away with it” freedom.  I doubt that would have played in the earlier time slot.

    I also thought Letterman was much funnier when he was on after Carson, his act and show went stale after it became a Tonight Show clone.

     

    • #16
  17. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    If you haven’t seen them, do watch Craig’s stand-up specials on Netflix.  They are great.

    • #17
  18. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    His memoir about deciding to become an American is very heartfelt.  I think his politics lean liberal but, above all, he respects the differences among people.

    • #18
  19. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    I always liked Craig Ferguson, I think he’s the best late night host of his time. (and better than the current crop) He was maybe the last late show I would watch (If I happened to be up – and working shift work – would be fairly frequently) I really grew to despise Letterman, he was a bitter, envious old man. Jay Leno should’ve quit with grace, and left NBC to figure out what to do with Conan on their own. I dont think I’ve seen any of the current crop of hosts – other than the occasional blooper clip on YouTube.

    • #19
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    I always liked Craig Ferguson, I think he’s the best late night host of his time. (and better than the current crop) He was maybe the last late show I would watch (If I happened to be up – and working shift work – would be fairly frequently) I really grew to despise Letterman, he was a bitter, envious old man. Jay Leno should’ve quit with grace, and left NBC to figure out what to do with Conan on their own. I dont think I’ve seen any of the current crop of hosts – other than the occasional blooper clip on YouTube.

    Of course, Jay Leno landed on his feet. If you do what you love…

    His YouTube channel on all his wonderful cars, and all the cool, funky, and outrageous machines people want him to showcase, turned into a CNBC cable television series, Jay Leno’s Garage.

    • #20
  21. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Of course, Jay Leno landed on his feet. If you do what you love…

    His YouTube channel on all his wonderful cars, and all the cool, funky, and outrageous machines people want him to showcase, turned into a CNBC cable television series, Jay Leno’s Garage.

    Jay Leno is a multi-millionaire celebrity, the only way he wouldnt land on his feet, is if someone had pushed him out the window.

    I would’ve felt much better about Jay if the whole episode with Conan had been avoided. I am not particularly a fan of either, but the drama was completely unnecessary.

    • #21

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