|MATTHEW PEYTON/GETTY IMAGES/file 2006Craig Ferguson (above, in 2006) and his stand-up act are captured in ''A Wee Bit o' Revolution'' on Comedy Central. (MATTHEW PEYTON/GETTY IMAGES/file 2006)|
Ferguson gets out from behind the desk
NEW YORK - As Craig Ferguson faces a new rival in late night, he will carry on as host of CBS's "Late Late Show" with the blessing of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
A recent guest on the show, Tutu touched Ferguson's hand after being introduced, declaring, "I think you're crazy."
But it's a good kind of crazy, added Tutu, the anti-apartheid champion and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, chuckling heartily: "We want you. We want your craziness!"
Four years in, Ferguson hosts TV's craziest late-night talk show. And the freshest, too, even if measured against his brand-new NBC competitor, "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
Meanwhile, he has other creative outlets. A memoir, "American on Purpose," is due out this fall as a literary follow-up to his well-received 2006 novel, "Between the Bridge and the River."
And the past few years, he's kept a busy schedule of stand-up dates. One appearance, titled "A Wee Bit o' Revolution," premieres tomorrow at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.
Pacing the stage of Boston's Wilbur Theatre, Ferguson cracks up the audience reflecting on his mother, early drug misadventures, alcohol rehab, fellow Scotsman Sean Connery, busted marriages (last December, the twice-divorced Ferguson wed longtime girlfriend Megan Wallace Cunningham, an art dealer), Oprah Winfrey, and Americans' beautiful teeth.
Those topics may already sound familiar to his regular viewers, but in concert "I'm a little nearer the knuckle," says Ferguson, who describes his talk show as "a gentler madness."
It's madness on a shoestring. Based in Los Angeles, it airs from a matchbox studio where "the roof leaks, we don't have a band, we don't light the show properly," as Ferguson reminds his audience with comic indignation.
The show's very cheapness is a source of inspiration.
"I complain about it, but I think it's probably been the best thing," says Ferguson. "It allowed us to develop this odd little show which is different from the other shows."
Though the ratings runner-up, Ferguson had steadily been closing the gap on Conan O'Brien. Then, to no one's surprise, Fallon was received as the new host of "Late Night" with a surge of viewer sampling.
Ferguson contends this ratings horse race is beside the point.
"I have to do a show which is of interest to me, or else I'm lost."