COMMENTARY | Providing the last part of the trifecta of the diminishing of late night comedy that started with Jay Leno’s retirement and continued with Stephen Colbert replacing Letterman was Craig Ferguson’s announcement that he is retiring as well.
In many ways Ferguson is an unlikely late night talker, a musician/actor and Scottish immigrant with a brogue that can be cut with a claymore. But oddly, his form of humor, naughty with a sly wink and a smirk, has worked in the nearly ten years he has hosted the “Late Late Show.” And who else has a gay robot skeleton as a side kick?
Ferguson has largely eschewed the political in his humor, for example still milking the fact that Bill Clinton is (or was anyway) sex crazed. His persona was that of a naughty, cool uncle who entertains the young’uns, much to the distress of their parents, with his off colored humor.
Ferguson, like most immigrants, is also an unabashed American patriot, as he noted in his 2009 memoirs “American on Purpose.” He is astonished that, unique of all nations, one can be ones ethnicity and an American all at once. That’s a great selling point for the United States, an exceptional nation based on ideas.
Ferguson’s decision seems to be motivated in part on his disappointment at being passed over as host of “The Late Show” in favor of Colbert. One has the sneaking suspicion that this move is going to be considered a mistake on the level of trying to ditch Jay Leno and replace him with Conan O’Brien a few years ago. Maybe if (when?) Colbert flops, CBS can revisit that decision.
In the meantime, Ferguson has lent his voice talents to two of the best animated films of the current decade, “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Brave.” The former is getting a sequel this summer and is eagerly anticipated.