Craig Ferguson talks about leaving 'The Late Late Show,' why he won't be singing, and more before his Sunday show at the Meyerhoff

Craig Ferguson has been the host of the Peabody Award-winning "The Late Late Show" on CBS for 10 years, but it's enough already, and so he’s out on the road telling jokes and eventually he's gonna do stuff; for instance, he is currently the host of the syndicated game show "Celebrity Name Game." If you are someone who does internal vocalization while you read, it will enhance your experience to read Ferguson's parts with a bit of a Scottish Brogue. We spoke with Ferguson via telephone after an interminable delay on the part of his PR people in productively responding to our request for an interview, resulting in us completely blowing the print deadline. Included in our infuriating email exchange were questions such as "And what will be the main focus of your piece?" and "Can you please be specific as to what topics you would plan on asking him?" Jesus Christ. This is to talk with the guy who is known for ceremoniously tearing up the talk-show question cards before every interview. Anyway. Ferguson appears Sunday, Feb. 8 at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall at 7:30 p.m. as part of his "Hot and Grumpy Tour: Walking the Earth." Good seats still available. The beginning of this Q&A is dedicated to the guy on Facebook who was all like "I don't understand the thing of including the 'hellos' and stuff in a Q+A."

 

[PHONE RINGS]

City Paper: Hey this is Joe.

Unidentified Voice on Phone, incredibly distant, tiny, difficult to hear: Hi [unintelligible] this is [unintelligible] calling for Craig Ferguson

CP, attempting to figure out what the fuck happened to the sound on my phone without disconnecting the goddamn call: Yes sir!

Phone [unintelligible] right now [unintelligible] give you about 10 minutes [uninfuckingtelligible] OK thank you I'll put him—

CP: 10 minutes?!?

[Silence]

CP: Hello.

[Silence]

CP, eyeing time on phone: I've used up 30 seconds of my 10 minutes.

[Silence]

CP: Hel-loooohhh.

[Silence]

CP: Hello?

[Silence]

CP: Hello.

UVOP, suddenly loud and clear after I realized I did not have phone on "speaker" mode: Joe you're on with Craig.

CP, super fucking excited: Yeah! Hello?

Craig Ferguson: Hey Joe, where are ya?

CP: Craig Ferguson!

CF: Hey, how ya doin'?

CP: Holy fucking shit! I am very excited to be talking to you, sir.

[pause]

CF: I can tell, by your tone, which is very exciting.

CP: (Cackles) Usually, you are inside of my television. But no! You are coming out of my phone!

CF: Yeah, that's not really how it works, Joe, but OK, yeah, alright, I was inside your television, I'm a tiny little man inside your phone now, too.

CP: Nobody said you were a tiny little man, you are a huge man.

CF: Enormous, especially in the penis department.

CP: Most especially, we've learned that from watching the program.

CF: That's right.

CP: Sunday we will see your hugeness here in Baltimore at the Meyerhoff.

CF: Yeah, yeah, not my penis though, I'm not planning on showing my penis at the show, but who knows what's gonna happen.

CP: Anything can happen. Good seats are still available. Anything can happen.

CF: (laughs)

CP: Anyway, I only have 10 minutes with you, so I'm very, I'm sad about that, if I may please ask you right now, where are you and what are you wearing.

CF: I'm in Norfolk, Virginia,and I'm wearing a sailor outfit. Well, I'm in Norfolk, Virginia. I'm thinking about buying a sailor outfit.

CP: Excellent. I am sad that you are not on the television, on the program anymore, I was, I am a huge fan of it, it still in my mind exists and I'm a huge fan of it. You're moving forward, you're doing a game show, you're doing this tour, you, apparently, are gonna be writing some serious stuff.

CF: Yeah, I kind of, like, you do anything—I loved to do the show and I'm very glad and grateful that I did it for so long, but 10 years is long enough for me to do anything in show business. I always thought "you'll never get me wearin' a suit sittin' behind a desk, and then I'm like "but wait, wait, wait a minute," so it was time to go, man, enough, I don't wanna be a late-night talk-show host anymore. I wanna to do something else.

CP: The guy before you [previous "Late Late Show" host Craig Kilborn] did the same thing for whatever reason.

CF: Yeah, it's OK to do that, to leave a job when you're done. Some people got mad at it, but they'll be all right. You know, and then some people say, "ahh, he's leavin' it for this reason or that reason," and it's none of that shit, it's just, you know, I'm done, it was enough.

CP: Yeah, and it's like, if I can believe what I read—

CF: Well, I'd be careful about that, there's an awful lot about me—I read a lot of stuff about me and the end of that show, which is, I would say that 90 percent of the stuff I read about it is unmitigated horseshit. People just make shit up, you know, it's ridiculous. I'd had enough of this job, CBS and I get on fine, I said, "Hey, I think I'm done." And they're like, "You sure?" And I'm like, "Yeah, I think I'm sure." And they're like, "Well, we're sad." And I'm like, "It's cool." And they said, "What else do you want to do?" And I'm like, "I don't know." And they're like "it's cool," and that's not a fuckin' story! So people make shit up.

CP: But that really should be the story, you guys had a cons—

CF: It is the story if anybody cares to hear it, but nobody wants to hear that. Even me sayin' that to you, someone would say, "He's lyin! Here's what really happened. I know, because I made it up in my mind!" So what are you gonna do.

CP: What about the part about how you got a nice little piece of cash, on leaving the show?

CF: [slight pause] Well, you know, everybody makes money in show business if they're lucky, what's wrong with that?

CP: Anybody who's a fan of you like I am, we're like, that's awesome, he went out on top, you know, now he's gonna go do other shit, have a good time, and he got a nice piece of money—he worked it right.

CF: Yeah, well, that's kind of, that's almost entirely true (laughs).

CP: OK, your show—a little more fawning about your show.

CF: Fawn away.

CP: That story about "Stone Soup," where you start out with an empty pot and some water, and stuff just gets added to it and added to it and eventually it's this amazing show.

CF: I think that's what happened, we didn't know what the hell we were doing, and that's what workded for us. It kinda played that way, we just kept goin' at it, and Josh [Robert Thompson] and I—Josh who did the robot skeleton, Geoff Peterson—and I, we were just playing with it, doing stuff, and a lot of different people who worked on the show with us were kinda messin' around. But there comes a point where you go, "That's enough, I think it's done." And I talked to Josh about it before, and I talked to a lot of people before I said OK, that's enough, but it's enough! I think, to be honest I think we probably stayed about a year too long. But it's fine, we got out.

CP: There's gotta be a lot of, you feel like you're responsible for people making a living and stuff like that, and that's gotta weigh on you a little bit.

CF: It does, and that's why I gave them plenty of notice I was goin' and that's why most of the people I worked with on the show are still workin' on the show right now, they're workin' with whoever the guest host is, and I don’t know if [new host James Corden] is gonna hire any of these guys, but I know that he's talkin' about it, and I talked to him about people I like, and it's all good, you know, it's fine. Things happen in the workplace, you move on.

CP: Right. So the show that you're gonna do at the Meyerhoff, other than doing a stand-up comedy routine, are you gonna serenade us, are you gonna do anything like that?

CF: No! I'll do a comedy routine, I'll talk and tell jokes, hopefully be funny, you know, for about an hour and a half. Josh'll do it for about a half an hour, you know, a tiny amount of dancin' horse, and that's really it, its a comedy show, I won't be singing, unless I decide to sing, I guess. I dunno, I don't plan it out that far in advance—now you're makin' me feel bad, I feel like I should be fuckin' singing, what's wrong with you man, why're you always judging me?

CP: We had Jason Alexander in town a coupla weeks ago and he did this whole singing thing.

CF: Who did that?

CP: Jason Alexander, the guy who used to be on "Seinfeld"?

CF: Oh, yeah, yeah, he did a singing thing?

CP: He won a Tony award a million years ago.

CF; Yeah, well he's a guy who did musical theater in Broadway, I'm not that guy. "Hey, I interviewed Tiger Woods last week, and he played golf while he was here, you gonna be playin' any golf?" C'mon man!

CP: Well right now you could probably play golf about as good as him.

GF: Yeah, you know what, you don't know how bad I am, I'm pretty fuckin' bad.

CP: Alright, I'm looking here and we're getting close to my fuckin' 10 minutes, so would you care to say something directly to the people of Baltimore and I will put it on my tweet immediately?

CF: Ahh, "I have always loved you people of Baltimore, and I am glad to finally be coming back there for the first time."

CP: Awesome. Thank you sir, looking forward to the show.

CF: Alright, (laughs) thank you, I'll see ya later, bye.

CP: Bye.

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