Performance at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, 4 Oct 2019
Thespia brought Craig Ferguson to my attention via his Late Late Show and I quickly realized that this guy was batshit insane. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I have a great deal of respect for batshit insane people. Especially those that take something like a late night talk show and subvert it for their own amusement. Which, if they’re amused doing it, generally, it becomes infectious and next thing you know you’re laughing your arse off because a panto horse become a recurring character, or a robot skeleton sidekick has been invented.
His first comedy special after he exited the late show, Just Being Honest, remains to date one of my favorite comedy specials. Craig’s style I would describe as faux improvisation. I mean, yes, there’s obviously some screwing around and experimentation done, but it’s all finely honed to make it seem like he’s just rambling in random directions all the time. Thus, when he calls back to something earlier, it has even more impact than usual…because you’ve pretty much forgotten the previous happened while trying to keep up with him. And because he could potentially call back to almost anything, it’s too hard to keep that much in your short term memory…especially while trying to keep up with him. (Indeed, since I’ve seen spotlight operators lose him twice now in different shows, either spotlight operators really need better coffee or he asks one of them to lose him so he can go into that bit. Which is still hilarious, so either way, I’m good with it.)
I would place him squarely between Billy Connolly and Eddie Izzard on the scale of brilliantly manic stage presences. But he shares more in common with Connolly, I think. This because both Craig and Connolly, despite the fact you’re sat in a large venue with hundreds of other people, you feel like you’re being told a series of stories by somebody at a party. Izzard is more like Robin Williams…you’re being told a series of stories, yes…but it’s more something you’re witnessing from a suitably safe distance.
With his latest tour, Craig says he’s treating every show like a one-off one-time thing and not going to ultimately film it as a special. But…he does make remarks doing about what he’s going to leave in or take out of the special once it’s filmed. He also has a TV show called “Hobo Fabulous,” which is going to a mix of stand-up with documentary, so there’s no telling. He did mentioned repeatedly how we were all legally bound not to tweet anything verbatim that he had said…and I didn’t want to test that because, like I said, the guy has access to skeleton robots. But you do get things he’s learned via planes and boats, insane stories of his youth both in Scotland and over here, and merely oblique references to the political landscape of 2019.
His previous “tradition” of telling a single joke as a sort of framing device is still here, but—and I’m saying this to avoid spoilers, because I hate those—I think it works best as a frame and not mixed in with the material inside the frame. If that makes any sense. But that’s a small quibble when compared to the nearly two hours of funny shit that Craig was bringing to the stage. If you can catch it, do it. Best place to find out where he’s headed next is here.