Craig Ferguson has hosted his final Late, Late Show.
After 10 seasons and over 2,000 episodes, the ever-changing late-night landscape saw yet another changing of the guard, as comedian Craig Ferguson signed off the air with a star-studded musical montage that, while not as large in number as the one that brought a close to The Colbert Report, certainly belied the fun and unconventional nature that Ferguson brought to the franchise after taking the helm from another Craig, Craig Kilborn, in 2005.
The Scottish-born Ferguson first came into the American consciousness as Nigel Wick, the stuffy, if oblivious, boss to Drew Carey’s eponymous character on The Drew Carey Show. A long time stand-up comic, Ferguson also spent time performing in musical theater and played drums for new wave punk band The Bastards From Hell, later renamed Dreamboys.
Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times called Ferguson “the best late-nite host” and impresses upon readers that Ferguson has maintained that he is not retiring. On the contrary, Ferguson teased that he may soon be performing in a similar capacity, perhaps at another network.
“I’m stopping doing this; I’m not stopping doing it. I might do it a little bit earlier. I might do it in a different place.”
During his tenure, Ferguson sought to present as different a show as possible in comparison to the several competing late night offerings. As opposed to the traditional medium camera shot, Ferguson got up close to the camera, creating an effect that made it seem that Ferguson was literally coming into your living room. Rather than a human sidekick a la Ed McMahon or Andy Richter, Ferguson employed a robot to bounce his banter off of.
Upon sitting behind his desk to interview celebrities, he would tear apart his note cards and insist on engaging his guests in as natural a conversational manner as his guest would allow. Ferguson delighted in challenging both his interviewees and his audience, and garnered a reputation for elevating the intelligence level of late night comedy while draping it all in absurdity. The style would also garner the respect of his fellow late night competitors such as Tonight Show successor Jimmy Fallon, who would reference Ferguson and trade gifts with him on air while serving as host of Late Night, and former late night king Jay Leno, who served as Ferguson’s final guest.
As Emily Yahr of the Washington Post reported, Ferguson’s final Late, Late Show signed off while paying homage to several classic television finales. Puppet horse Secretariat removed his head to reveal himself as comedy legend Bob Newhart, who informed Ferguson that his 10-year hosting stint was merely a dream, ironically mirroring the finish of his own eponymous 80s sitcom Newhart. The scene that followed would find Ferguson’s Mr. Wick in bed with Drew Carey, telling him of the “dream” he had, to which Carey assured him he could never make it as a late night host. This was followed by a close up on the snow globe on Ferguson’s desk, a nod to 80s hospital drama St. Elsewhere, which was ultimately revealed to be a child’s imagination, and then Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” paying homage to HBO crime drama The Sopranos.
Before signing off for good, Ferguson addressed his audience with a sincere moment of gratitude.
“You came to a show that was like, let’s be honest, was a bit of a fixer-upper and it kind of stayed that way. But what I hope we’ve done is – maybe art is a very grand word, but what I was trying to do here — and what I think we managed to do here — is make something that wasn’t here before. So in that sense, maybe it is a piece of art.”