- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2015

It may have seemed odd to have a Scotsman as part of America’s late-night TV lineup, but Glasgow native Craig Ferguson made himself right at home in the television’s wee hours for a decade.

Now free of that daily grind, Mr. Ferguson is taking his acerbic humor — delivered in his thick Scottish brogue — around the U.S. in a standup comedy tour, including two shows in the District this Saturday at the Warner Theatre and one in Baltimore at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Sunday.

“Any subject is fine for me,” Mr. Ferguson, former host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” said in an interview with The Washington Times. “I try not to punch it ‘down.’ I try to punch ‘up.’ The material itself should be attacking power as opposed to attacking people. It’s just can I totally justify what the [expletive] I’m talking about in that moment.”

No longer working with nervous TV censors with itchy fingers hovering over the dead-air button, Mr. Ferguson is free to riff on controversial issues with more peppery language than would be allowed on network television — even in the small hours.

“I never found a problem to use any language at any time,” Mr. Ferguson said, “and [CBS] had to find a way to get around that. It doesn’t really bother me. The only time I really try not to is around my kids, because [then] it’s carte blanche for them to do it.

“That’s French, by the way, for ‘white map,’” Mr. Ferguson adds in his typical deadpan manner.

From 2005 to 2014, Mr. Ferguson would begin his show by delivering a monologue straight into the camera, riffing on news of the day. He and his writers sent up the late-night sidekick trope by offering him a skeleton companion named “Geoff Peterson,” voiced by actor Josh Robert Thompson. However, the skeletal sidekick soon became more than a joke and evolved into a full-fledged character on the show.

“He became such a good sidekick that my plan of it being a deconstruct [of] the trope became completely wrong, because [Mr. Thompson] was so good at it that is just became a sidekick,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Englishman James Corden was announced as Mr. Ferguson’s replacement as host of “The Late Late Show,” to commence March 23, a revelation that was greeted with some controversy as it meant the late-night landscape would remain more or less the privy of white men.

“Well, there’s one less white guy doing late night now, and that’s me,” Mr. Ferguson said, brushing aside the issue. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m out of the late-night business and it’s somebody else’s problem. I’m very glad I did it, and it was a very nice thing to do, but I’m very glad it’s over.”

Asked whether he ever pals around with any of his fellow late-night hosts, Mr. Ferguson said, “Yeah, we all meet once a year at the top of the Empire State Building.” Pausing, he adds, “No, man, we don’t talk.”

Mr. Ferguson wasn’t hesitant to weigh in on the immigration debate and President Obama’s amnesty plan. As a Scottish emigre — he resides in Los Angeles but frequently hops the Atlantic home — Mr. Ferguson is quick to point out that the story of immigration is the story of America.

“There has to be [discussion] about it, and it has to be appropriate,” he said. Asked what he might say to Congress in the debate, Mr. Ferguson deadpanned, “If I had stuff to say about immigration in Congress, I’d [expletive] run for Congress.”

He is excited to return to the Warner Theatre, where his last standup special was taped. His other trips to the nation’s capital included a memorable performance at President George W. Bush’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2008.

“Because I’m an American, but I’m an immigrant, so I’ve driven around the monuments,” Mr. Ferguson said of his time in the District.

Mr. Ferguson counts Billy Connolly, the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, and Laurel and Hardy among his influences, some of whom he has been fortunate to work with.

“Not Laurel and Hardy, because they’re sadly unavailable,” Mr. Ferguson said of the long-deceased comedy duo, “as are the Marx Brothers. But I’ve worked with a lot of these guys.”

One of Mr. Ferguson’s frequent guests was one of his heroes, Robin Williams. The pair were able to work together on several occasions, including an event a few years ago near Williams’ home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“He was just a beautiful human being and just a fantastic, honest, in-the-moment performer,” Mr. Ferguson said of the late comedian, who committed suicide last year. “I miss him a lot.”

When asked whether he recalls the last time he spoke with the “Mrs. Doubtfire” star, Mr. Ferguson clammed up, offering only, “I do, but it’s between me and him.”

Mr. Ferguson will continue touring the U.S. into the spring. After hanging up the mic at tour’s end, “I’m thinking about getting another cat, but I’m not sure yet.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT:Craig Ferguson’s Hot & Grumpy Tour: Walking the Earth”

WHERE: Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20004

WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

TICKETS: Call 202/783-4000 or visit WarnerTheatreDC.com.

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