Monday, November 20, 2017
Stage

on stage or in a chair

RECOMMENDED READING


As the Fallons and the Kimmels and the Colberts of the world get sillier and snarkier, more viral and more visible, Craig Ferguson keeps on leaning back behind his desk on the set of The Late Late Show, smirking slyly and delivering, night in and night out, the breeziest, most easygoing late-night talk show on TV.

Yeah. We said it.

At 51 and in his ninth season following David Letterman, the charming Glaswegian has carved out a comfortable niche delivering insightful, intimate monologues on American culture and unrehearsed interviews with entertainers and world leaders. It adds up to a show that feels uniquely honest, self-assured and intelligent — this, in spite of the presence of a randy robot sidekick and a menagerie of oddball puppets.

"It's gotta be stuff that makes you laugh, and then you hope enough people share that with you," said Ferguson, calling this week from Los Angeles. "I have to entertain myself, and then if enough other people join in, that's great. And actually I think that's better, because it creates an empathy and a sense of contact with the audience that wouldn't be there if I was just doing stuff I thought would please a certain demographic."

From his days as a young Scottish punk to his American success on The Drew Carey Show to his books and screenplays to his near-decade in late night, Ferguson has remained faithful to what he views as his truest comedic form: Stand-up. As he brings his "Hot and Grumpy" tour to the Palladium in St. Petersburg on Monday, we asked Ferguson about his stand-up, his overseas travels and more. Here are excerpts.

If I'm not mistaken, this is one of five shows you're doing in Florida.

Yeah, we're doing a bunch, certainly. I'm going around a bit. But St. Pete's the one I'm looking forward to, because I want to go to the Dali Museum.

It's great. You can buy a melting-clock Christmas ornament in the gift shop.

Great! That's what I'm after. I've been to the other one in Cadaqués, Spain, so I want to go to the one in St. Pete.

If you were coming next spring, they just announced the Warhol Museum is going to send down about 100 works to the Dali Museum.

That would be interesting. Maybe I'll come back for it. We'll see how it goes — if the people of St. Pete like me and I like them, we'll take it from there. It's kind of a first date.

I was at the last show you did in this area, in Clearwater, and I could definitely sense a difference in the energy you bring on stage versus what you bring on TV. Do you think Stage Craig differs from Screen Craig?

Of course, yeah. It's the difference between a live band and a studio album. It's much more raucous, I think, in the live environment. It feels a lot rawer, it's a lot more rock 'n' roll than pop music.

That must take you back to your days in music, playing in a band and being in musical theater. Stand-up must give you an outlet that you can't get on TV.

Yeah, or anywhere else, really, for that matter. Live stand-up comedy is really kind of how I started. I've been doing it since, geez, 1986, when I started at the Edinburgh Festival, so 20-some years. It's what I do. I went from punk rock bands into this, and I've been doing this ever since.

How frequently to you sense that something you've done on any given night's show is resonating online the following day?

Not too often. I used to be aware of it a lot more some years ago. This is the end of the ninth season, about to be 10 years, and after a while, you kind of can't keep up, nor would you want to. You don't really want to Google yourself, because for everybody who loves you, there's somebody who can't stand you. My self-esteem is fragile enough.

I thought the shows in Paris and Scotland were fantastic. Do you have any plans to take the show overseas again?

Not right now, but I will. I feel that some of the finest work on the show was the overseas stuff. And I think that I would like to do that again.

How do you make your traveling partners comfortable? How do you get them on board?

Just ask them, basically. Everyone, like Mila Kunis or Michael (Clarke Duncan) or Rashida Jones or anybody who's come with us on these trips, we just ask them and they just came. It gets to the point now that people actually ask us, "When you're going, can I come for the next one?" Julia Louis-Dreyfus right now is saying, "Let's go to Italy!" And I'm like, "Well, I … not right now, but yes, let's go." And we will at some point.

I saw you're hosting a new game show, Celebrity Name Game. Have you hosted a game show before?

I haven't. And I don't know how much of a — it's a game show, but it's kind of an odd thing. It's pretty cool. It's kind of a very simple kind of pretext, and it works really well for fooling around and having some fun. I'm looking forward to it. I mean, we're a long way away from that. It'll be into the next year before we even start shooting that.

Have you reached out to your old buddy Drew for advice on hosting a game show?

I would never take advice from Drew about anything. Other than perhaps diet and exercise. He's managed to keep all that weight off, which makes me hate him.

Comments
It’s a Doo Wop holiday at the Show Palace

It’s a Doo Wop holiday at the Show Palace

HUDSON — Music brings the Rudolph family together in A Doo Wop Christmas, which opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 25 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.This new production, directed by Peter Clapsis (The Great American Trailer Park Musical) with m...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/18/17
What’s on stage this week: Benji Brown, ‘No Man’s Land’ on screen, Florida Orchestra does Bruch

What’s on stage this week: Benji Brown, ‘No Man’s Land’ on screen, Florida Orchestra does Bruch

KIKI OR BUST: BENJI BROWNWherever Benji Brown goes, Kiki follows. The comic, known for his work on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, created the fast-talking female character on the fly when he called a girl’s house in high school and her boyfriend pic...
Published: 11/15/17
American Stage’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is just what the love doctor ordered

American Stage’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is just what the love doctor ordered

ST. PETERSBURG — A centuries-old template for the rom-com as we know it and one of Shakespeare’s most produced comedies, Much Ado About Nothing comes to us at a time when we can really use some love conquering all. Just what the love doctor ordered, ...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/15/17
Review: With a fine script, Stage West cast puts on a great show in ‘Baggage’

Review: With a fine script, Stage West cast puts on a great show in ‘Baggage’

Okay, I’ll admit I went into the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill on opening night of the comedy Baggage expecting another June/moon/spoon romance-comedy. And sure enough, that’s just the way it started.A man and a woman grab ea...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/16/17
From stickup to stand-up, bank robber's second act is comedy

From stickup to stand-up, bank robber's second act is comedy

TAMPA — He had dreamed about returning to comedy in odd moments, between meetings with the lawyer, the lonely trip to the correctional institute, picking up trash on state roads while a guard stood by with a rifle. This nightmare would make him...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/12/17
Sammy Hagar talks Clearwater concert, tequila and Van Halen drama

Sammy Hagar talks Clearwater concert, tequila and Van Halen drama

The Red Rocker calls on time, and he is all kinds of fired up."Hey, Jay, Sammy Hagar here. Are you ready for me?"Is anyone ever truly ready for a phone call from Hagar, the flame-haired, motor-mouthed ex-Van Halen singer who once dubbed himself the C...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/12/17
What’s on stage this week: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in Key West, Travis Wall Shaping Sound

What’s on stage this week: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in Key West, Travis Wall Shaping Sound

AMERICAN STAGE: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHINGTwo couples nearly come apart at the seams for different reasons, the premise for Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, opening at American Stage. This version is set in Key West in the 1940s, the end of World Wa...
Published: 11/08/17
Updated: 11/15/17
Review: ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ at Stageworks

Review: ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ at Stageworks

At the beginning of The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion acknowledges that the audience might not want to hear her story because we don’t think it could happen to us."It will happen to you," Didion says with a rueful smile, and of course she’s r...
Published: 11/06/17
Updated: 11/07/17
What's on stage this week: 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' Florida Orchestra milestone concert, John Cleese

What's on stage this week: 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' Florida Orchestra milestone concert, John Cleese

STAGEWORKS: MINING GRIEF FOR HEALING The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s no-frills memoir of loss and recovery, opens at Stageworks Theatre this weekend. The essayist and screenwriter adapted the one-woman stage play herself. Didion w...
Published: 11/01/17
Updated: 11/08/17
Romantic comedy ‘Baggage’ opens Nov. 9 at Stage West

Romantic comedy ‘Baggage’ opens Nov. 9 at Stage West

The romantic comedy Baggage opens at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. Shows will continue at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 19. Phyllis Novack and Bradley Naught...
Updated one month ago