After ten years, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson ended its run last night. Like Colbert, he also had a all-star musical number, although Ferguson began the show with it, and it was pre-taped, it was more low key, and it was wistfully joyful.
Most of the rest of the show was devoted to his lone guest, Jay Leno, with whom Ferguson shot the sh*t. You could see that as a betrayal to CBS and David Letterman, if you’d like (as some have), but betrayal is not in Craig Ferguson’s DNA. It’s not who he is. More likely, he just wanted to talk to the guy who knows most about life after hosting a late-night talk show.
At any rate, I can’t claim to be an avid watcher of Craig Ferguson: He was on late; CBS did a lousy job of promoting his show; and CBS only uploaded entire episodes to YouTube instead of clips. That’s kind of why Ferguson didn’t fit into the late-night landscape anymore: He didn’t generate viral clips. He wasn’t an Internet kind of late-night host. But that was OK for his 1.5 million very passionate nightly viewers.
He was, however, one of — if not the best — interviewer in late night, in part because he didn’t give a shit about what the star was promoting. He just wanted to hang out, but not in the goofy, frivolous way in which Fallon excels. Ferguson was more like the British friend you had a beer (or 4) with, and he combined substantive question and answers with a kind of silly banter. I’ve never seen a Ferguson interview — whether it was Kristen Bell, Gwendoline Christie, Jon Hamm — with which I wasn’t smitten.
But more than anything — aside from his love of Doctor Who — he’ll be remembered for his genuineness. He stayed out of the late-night wars. He didn’t take cheap shots at other celebrities. He was never mean-spirited. And he had no ego whatsoever. He had no designs on anything bigger. He loved what he did until he didn’t love it anymore, and then he left.
Appropriately, he ended his run with a visit from Drew Carey in a delightful, low-key twist on the Bob Newhart ending (and God Bless Newhart, but at this age, this will probably be his last Newhart finale joke).
Jump to 36:30, if you only want to see the end of the show.
So long, Ferguson.