Craig Ferguson has followed Letterman for nearly a decade now on The Late Late Show. In personality, Ferguson and Letterman are not very much alike, and it always felt like an odd fit. Honestly, I don’t even know how Ferguson ended up there, after Tom Snyder (who was more Dave’s speed) and Craig Kilborn (who the network hired because he was the hot ticket at the time).
I don’t think that Dave’s ever been on Ferguson’s show (in fact, I only recall Letterman returning to his old show, Late Night for both Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon, and only once visiting another late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel’s, because Kimmel had been so kind and adoring over the years). It’s funny in his interviews with other hosts — both on his show and theirs — it’s always been a kind of one-way love affair between the other hosts and Dave, where they kind of fawn over him and Dave sort of makes self-deprecating jokes as he tries to deflect their admiration (around Letterman, Jon Stewart always turns into a 12-year-old kid trying to elicit his father’s approval). The only other guy that Dave has ever treated as a peer, really, is Leno, and everyone else is just a kid with whom he regards with various levels of approval, but never any warmth.
Anyway, I got off track. Craig Ferguson announced that he was leaving The Late Late Show last night, and tonight, Letterman gives him the kind of tribute you’d expect from Dave, which is basically: “He’s a nice kid. That’s too bad. We’ll miss him. How about those Knicks, Paul?” It’s respectful, and it’s not unkind, but it’s just not particularly moving. In other words, it’s just Dave being Dave.