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tv’s craig ferguson

Stephen Colbert’s final episode of The Colbert Report has gotten a lot of attention (well deserved), but he wasn’t the only person leaving the late-night ranks. Craig Ferguson aired his final episode of The Late Late Show last night.

You won’t be able to binge-watch Ferguson on Netflix, although YouTube does have an enormous stockpile of segments and complete episodes. The goofy stuff is what got people’s attention, for good reason … Ferguson always left the door open to goofiness. It was the most spontaneous late-night show of its time. Not that Ferguson didn’t have pre-planned bits, but the two essentials of a talk show are the monologue and the guest interviews, and in both cases, Ferguson preferred a “let’s see what happens” style to one based on cue cards and publicists’ info sheets. I never did figure out exactly how scripted his monologues were, but he gave the impression that he had a couple of jokes and he would then seize on tangents. He made a big deal out of tearing up the prep cards prior to interviewing guests, as if to say, fuck that, let’s just talk. Not every guest could pull it off, but when they did, you got chat segments that weren’t like those on other shows. For this reason, guests who liked Ferguson kept coming back. Tim Meadows held the record for most appearances, but in my mind, the best guest was always Kristin Bell, who over the years developed such a solid relationship that when she made her final appearance a couple of weeks ago, extremely pregnant (the baby was born yesterday), they pulled off the most casual “interview” imaginable. They didn’t try to be funny or to do shtick, although they had done plenty of that along the way. No, this was two friends, one of whom just had to have a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. I imagine most late-night shows wouldn’t have even aired a segment like this; for Ferguson, it was the norm:

Ferguson will be known for his musical cold opens:

For his robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson, who did a mean Morgan Freeman impression:

And the regular appearances of the great Secretariat:

But he will also be remembered for more serious moments, like his eulogies for his father and mother:

His monologue about his days as an addict, and why he won’t make fun of Britney Spears:

His one-on-one with Desmond Tutu, which won a Peabody Award:

http://youtu.be/PW7mvLTqVMM

http://youtu.be/lp3ajo7kxrE

http://youtu.be/rj3bwJrIVeU

And so, his final show:

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