The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
|The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson|
|Also known as||The Late Late Show (franchise brand)|
Brian McAloon (2005–2012)
|Presented by||Craig Ferguson|
|Narrated by||Shadoe Stevens|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||2,058 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||39 minutes|
Worldwide Pants Incorporated|
CBS Productions (2005–06)
CBS Paramount Television (2006–09)
CBS Television Studios (2009–2014)
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
480i (4:3 SDTV) (2005–09)|
1080i (16:9 HDTV) (2009–2014)
|Original release||January 3, 2005– December 19, 2014|
|Preceded by||The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn|
|Followed by||The Late Late Show with James Corden|
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is an American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. It was the third iteration of the Late Late Show franchise, airing from 2005 to 2014. It followed the Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup, airing weekdays in the U.S. at 12:37 a.m. Taped in front of a live studio audience from Monday to Friday at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California, directly above the Bob Barker Studio (Studio 33), it was produced by David Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants Incorporated and CBS Television Studios.
The Late Late Show franchise had previously aired as The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, then as The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. During the late 2004 transition of guest hosts following Craig Kilborn's departure, Craig Ferguson hosted a series of shows in October and November, culminating in being announced on December 7 as the pick for new host. After launching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on January 3, 2005, Ferguson achieved the highest ratings since the show's inception in 1995. While comedy was emphasized in the majority of the episodes, Ferguson also addressed difficult subject matters, such as the deaths of his parents, his struggles with alcoholism, and commenting on national tragedies; and undertook serious interviews, such as one with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which earned the show a 2009 Peabody Award. Despite not initially having a sidekick, comedian and voice actor Josh Robert Thompson joined the show in 2010 and voiced sidekick Geoff Peterson until the show's finale.
On April 28, 2014, Ferguson announced that he was ending the show at the end of the year. The last episode aired on December 19, 2014. Afterwards, Late Late Show began a series of episodes with guest hosts; new permanent host James Corden began his iteration of the franchise on March 23, 2015.
- 1 Show format
- 2 Production milestones
- 3 Show elements
- 4 Ratings
- 5 Notable episodes
- 6 Broadcast
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The show starts with a cold open which consists of a short improvised monologue or commentary by Ferguson either as himself or involving his various puppets. Later the show featured banter with Geoff Peterson, his robot sidekick (voiced by Josh Robert Thompson), and Secretariat, a pantomime horse; interaction with members of the studio audience, or occasionally a pre-taped bit. The cold open is followed by the opening credits and a commercial break.
Following the break and his introduction by announcer Shadoe Stevens, Ferguson begins with "Welcome to Los Angeles, California, welcome to the Late Late Show. I am your host, TV's Craig Ferguson"; this is soon followed by "It's a great day for America, everybody!" and a free-form, largely ad-libbed monologue. After another commercial break, Ferguson is seated behind his desk, where he usually reads and responds to viewer emails and (since February 2010) tweets from his proclaimed "robot skeleton army".
Generally, one or two celebrities are interviewed. Starting in 2008, Ferguson began each by dramatically ripping up note cards written for the interview, "signalling to the audience, and to the guest, that this conversation need not be rigidly managed". Sometimes, a stand-up comedian, cooking segment, or a musical guest performs, the latter of which is typically pre-taped.
Ferguson has had many running gags. These have included themed weeks such as "Crab Week", "Magic Week", and "Shark Week"; and the long running "photo of Paul McCartney" joke, wherein Ferguson will call for a photo of McCartney, which is actually a photo of actress Angela Lansbury and vice versa. The show infrequently uses variations of the latter gag featuring other pairs of look-alike celebrities, such as Cher being shown as Marilyn Manson. The show also uses short skits such as "Dear Aquaman" (in which Ferguson dresses as the superhero and gives advice), "Michael Caine in Space", and various absurdist Sean Connery impersonations, coming in and out of commercial breaks, and longer sketches used more infrequently as the show progressed.
The show ends with "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?", a segment that starts with an animation of a kitten and in which Ferguson "removes his tie, puts his feet on his desk, and summarizes the preceding hour of TV".
Ferguson's first show as host was on January 3, 2005. For approximately the first two months, he continued his predecessor's monologue format, reading 5–10 jokes from cue cards. He would ad-lib between the jokes, and soon noticed that the "stuff in-between" got the most reaction from his audience; after that realization, he decided he and his writers would stop writing jokes.
By May 2006, Studio 58, the CBS Television City venue from which the show is taped, had been updated with a digital broadcast Solid State Logic mixing console, needed for 5.1 Channel Surround.
A new set debuted on the July 24, 2006 episode. It included a miniature CBS airship that floated along over the backdrop depicting Los Angeles. In the week of March 17, 2008, The Late Late Show debuted a new set featuring a desk interview area on a raised platform; the backdrop was also changed to a detailed representation of Los Angeles.
In 2008, Worldwide Pants Incorporated signed a product placement deal with Ford to promote the Ford Flex during The Late Late Show. Eight episodes ("with one repeat") of the show included custom-written skits in which Ferguson played the leader of a Scottish rap band called The Highlanderz (consisting of Angus "Big Ginger" Ferguson, Philip "The Howler" McGrade, and Shannon "Bubbles" McGee), riding in a Flex as they traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to the CBS Studio. The skits were shown on successive Thursdays starting on September 4.
|“||I think my show is probably closer to Pee-wee's Playhouse than anything else I've seen, and that is an aspiration.||”|
|— Craig Ferguson (August 2009)|
On August 31, 2009, the show began broadcasting in high definition, featuring a refitted studio and production facilities, along with a new show logo, new lights, an opening title sequence that "features Ferguson in iconic Los Angeles locations", and a new arrangement of the show's theme song.
Ferguson's initial contract as host was for six years, until the end of 2010; as of August 2007 he was telling television critics he might not be interested in a contract renewal, though by February 2008, he was publicly professing his loyalty to David Letterman, saying: "I will sit behind Dave as long as he sits there."
December 15, 2009 marked his 1,000th episode as host. For the occasion, puppets took over the show; Ferguson conducted the entire show as his puppet Wavy Ranchero, and recurring sketches also featured puppet replacements. Guests, which were not puppets, included Kristen Bell, Maria Bello, and Jason Schwartzman. Jason Segel also made an appearance as his muppet Dracula, performing a musical number with band The Broken West.
On March 31, 2010, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Georgia announced that the Late Late Show had won the Peabody Award for Excellence in Television for its "Evening with Archbishop Desmond Tutu" episode. According to the Peabody Board, "the Scottish-born Ferguson has made late-night television safe again for ideas".
On April 3, 2012, CBS announced Ferguson agreed to a contract extension through 2014. As part of the deal, CBS will co-produce the show with Worldwide Pants and CBS Television Studios and the show will move to a bigger studio. Although financial terms were not disclosed, the extension likely included a raise beyond what Variety reported had been his US$13 million salary.
Final seasons and departure
|“||Geoff Peterson: That's our show—redundant and timely.
Craig Ferguson: I'm redundant, [Geoff's] timely... well, in a way he is. I mean, I represent the redundant form of the late night stand-up comedian, and he represents impending death [...] you see, there's an allegorical subtext to what we're doing here.
|— "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight Craig?," Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, 7 February 2012.|
Following the departure of Jay Leno from The Tonight Show and the late night shake-up at NBC, both Late Show and The Late Late Show struggled in the ratings against Jimmy Fallon and his successor at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT, Late Night with Seth Meyers. In April 2014, Letterman announced his plans to retire. CBS passed over Ferguson to choose Stephen Colbert as the new host of Late Show beginning sometime in 2015, reportedly viewing Ferguson as too much of a niche performer to succeed Letterman. Ferguson's contract, which expired in June 2014 stipulated that he was Letterman's successor at 11:30 and that if he was not given the position, he would be paid compensation of as much as US$10,000,000. Letterman's contract included the right to control the time slot that follows his and produce the Late Late Show and it was his production company, Worldwide Pants, which selected Ferguson as host and with whom his contracts were negotiated. With Letterman's departure, CBS would become the sole producer of the show and it is the network which determines what is done with the time slot and with which any contract is negotiated. CBS had been ambiguous in regard to Ferguson's future as host of The Late Late Show. CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves said in an interview: "12:30 is up in the air [...] Obviously, we’re considering all sorts of candidates and women are among them. A woman would be great in late night." However, CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said that the CBS management are "big fans of Craig" and that "Craig is here and doing his show at 12.30am, and we love having him there".
Chelsea Handler had reportedly begun negotiations to take over hosting of The Late Late Show when Ferguson's contract expired; however, both Handler and CBS later denied this, saying she was in fact in negotiations with CBS' syndication arm for a daytime show. John Oliver was also reportedly approached by CBS as a possible Late Late Show host prior to his signing a contract with HBO, as were Neil Patrick Harris and James Corden.
On April 28, 2014, Ferguson announced he would leave the show in December 2014. He had made the decision prior to Letterman's announcement but agreed to delay making his own decision public until the reaction to Letterman's decision had died down.[note 1] He had also originally intended to leave in the summer of 2014 but agreed to stay until the end of the year to give CBS more time to find a successor. In a statement following his announcement, Tassler said that in his decade as host, Ferguson had "infused the broadcast with tremendous energy, unique comedy, insightful interviews, and some of the most heartfelt monologues seen on television". In an interview with Larry King, Ferguson stated that the final episode of The Late Late Show with him as host would air December 19, 2014.
In September 2014, comedian James Corden was announced as host of The Late Late Show with James Corden, beginning in 2015. In November 2014, CBS announced Jay Leno would be Ferguson's guest on his final show; during December "notable friends of the show" scheduled for appearances in December included Kristen Bell, Steve Carell, Jon Hamm, Rashida Jones, Mila Kunis, Thomas Lennon, Tim Meadows (whose 41 appearances set the show's record), Jim Parsons, Michael Sheen, Ariel Tweto, Betty White, and Henry Winkler. Meanwhile, several of Ferguson's final episodes dealt with his distaste for abstract expressionism—Mark Rothko in particular—and public reactions to that stance.
Ferguson's final episode started with the usual cold open, but this time showing a montage of friends from the show while they performed Dead Man Fall's song "Bang Your Drum".
Cameos included: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick (plus dog Lily), Jack Black, Kristen Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Carell, Don Cheadle, Kristin Chenoweth, Marion Cotillard, Tenacious D, Jeff Daniels, Ted Danson, Kat Dennings, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Carl Edwards, Cedric the Entertainer, Jon Hamm, Sean Hayes, Samuel L. Jackson, Rashida Jones, Toby Keith, Jimmy Kimmel, Mila Kunis, Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, Justin Long, James Marsden, Matthew McConaughey, Mary McCormack, Joel McHale, Tim Meadows, Metallica, Kunal Nayyar, Geoff Peterson, Regis Philbin, Ray Romano, Bob Saget, William Shatner, Michael Sheen, Quentin Tarantino, Josh Robert Thompson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Henry Winkler, Shailene Woodley, Weird Al Yankovic, Larry King, Angela Kinsey, Betty White, Thomas Lennon, and various friends. The pre-taped montage segued to the studio with Ferguson continuing the song backed by the occasional semi-house band Bone Patrol, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, a full choir, various celebrities, musicians, and friends of the show.
The monologue began with a short time lapse of Craig coming out to start show through the last 10 years, starting on his first day (January 3, 2005) to his last. Craig thanked his comedic partner Josh Robert Thompson, the viewers, the crew, and explained:
Over the years, going with this show out and around, or going and doing stand-up with Josh, I've come into contact with a lot of people who are viewers of this show, and although I said my goodbyes to the crew, the people who made this show are you. You came to a show that, let's be honest, was a bit of a fixer-upper. It kind of stayed that way, but what I hope we've done [...] maybe art is a very grand word, but I think what we managed to do here is make something that wasn't here before. So in that sense maybe it is a piece of art, it didn't exist and now it does. What we've done here, it doesn't go away because I stopped doing it, we stop doing this and we start doing something else [...] maybe [...] later, or maybe I go away and this is it! But I think what was more overwhelming than anything else in the experience of doing this show was making a connection with a country which I became a part of, which is astonishing to me. Even in the course of this show I became an American, officially and particularly for my friends at the IRS, I am now a fully-fledged American. However, what I can't be is a member of a club, which I didn't really ask to join, I wanted to do this show [...] and now we've done this show, and if you will indulge me in whatever I'm doing now and come to whatever I do next I'd be very grateful, because my kids are still young.
After reading his last Tweets & E-mails and doing his final interview with guest Jay Leno, the show ended with his final segment: What Did We Learn on the Show Over the Last 10 Years Craig? Craig tells Geoff he wants to finally find out who the real identity of Secretariat is. Asked to lift up his mask, it's revealed to be Bob Newhart. Craig asks, "Bob Newhart?! What are you doing here?" to which Newhart replies, "Hey guy, it's your dream." Craig wakes up next to Drew Carey as Nigel Wick and proceeds to spoof the finales of Newhart (the show was all a dream), St. Elsewhere (he imagined it all from a snowglobe), and The Sopranos (cut to black with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'").
|“||Most nights, he introduces himself as "TV's Craig Ferguson", and pronounces it a "great day for America." After that, no one knows what might come next, not even the host himself.||”|
|— TV Critic Eric Deggans of the St Petersburg Times|
Ferguson starts with a cold open, which is a two-minute segment before the first commercials, theme song, and actual show. Originally, it was a miniature monologue and to talk about the guests on the show. Over time, this segment expanded to include short skits and musical sessions often involving puppets, and occasional interaction with members of the studio audience. In actual practice, the cold open was the second segment presented when the show was recorded at the CBS studios. The open was actually recorded after the monologue but aired before it, something Ferguson originally thinly disguised, but later openly mocked.
On November 22, 2010, Ferguson opened the show with evidence that a French talk show called Ce Soir Avec Arthur had stolen his show's opening sequence, as well as some of his puppet and song-and-dance concepts. On November 30, 2010, Ferguson introduced Arthur in the cold opening of the show; they joked back and forth for about two minutes, and then Arthur returned to help Ferguson answer viewer emails and again at the end of the show.
When he was hired as the full-time replacement for Craig Kilborn, Ferguson co-wrote and recorded a theme song. The theme tune was re-recorded for the show's switch to HD, premiering on August 31, 2009 and produced by Andy "Stoker" Growcott. Besides when the show traveled (i.e. Paris, Scotland, New Orleans), the lyrics to this theme were the same during the entire 10-year run.
On April 5, 2010, Ferguson began featuring a robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson, voiced by Josh Robert Thompson. The robot was created by former Mythbuster Grant Imahara. According to a web article by Jeremy Kaplan, when Imahara became aware of Ferguson's idea to have a robot sidekick, he responded with a March 1, 2010 tweet:
@CraigyFerg I hear you are looking for a robot sidekick. I think I can help... for a price: get me 100,000 [Twitter followers]. If you can.
Ferguson subsequently came through with the followers and Imahara came through with the robot.
While Geoff began with pre-recorded phrases, Thompson voiced him live in studio for almost every episode since late June 2011, including those filmed in Paris, France and Scotland. Three people are often given screen credit at the end of the show as being responsible for Geoff: Imahara, writer Tom Straw (and later Bob Oschack), and voice actor Thompson.[not in citation given]
Ferguson has said that the robot is "my metaphor for deconstructing the dead art form of the late night talk show", and that he selected the name because of its commonness. Ferguson has jokingly referred to Geoff as an "appliance" who is being used because the show's small budget does not permit a typical (and living) sidekick or band. But as the years progressed, mainly due to Thompson's performance, even Ferguson would admit that Geoff Peterson came to fully embody the very sidekick cliché that they intended to mock.
Secretariat has appeared in some sketches, including one on January 7, 2011, when a clip was shown of Secretariat traveling to New York City to deliver a Christmas present to Jimmy Fallon, who competed against Ferguson in the same time slot on NBC. In the clip, Secretariat makes appearances on Live with Regis and Kelly, The View, CBS News (where Katie Couric did the Secretariat Dance), and Late Show with David Letterman.
When Ferguson hosted the show from Paris, France during the week of August 1, 2011, Secretariat played a role in several locations. He again accompanied the show during its week of programs taped in Scotland, airing in the summer of 2012. Secretariat also appeared in several background shots of ESPN remote shows during the show's visit to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
A following has been built around the false horse, with multiple fan pages existing on Facebook, and several websites selling Team Secretariat T-shirts. The people playing Secretariat were Joseph Bolter and Ryan McGowan.
As part of the finale's last sketch, Secretariat unmasks himself and reveals himself to be Bob Newhart.
Impersonations and characters
Impersonations and sketch characters frequently done by Ferguson on the show include Prince Charles (usually hosting "The Rather Late Programme"), Wilford Brimley, Sean Connery, Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, Andy Rooney, Aquaman, Michael Caine, David Bowie, Elton John, Bono, and Mitt Romney. He claims that he developed his imitation of Caine after an eight-hour-long plane ride on which he sat behind Caine, who "gabbed" with his wife the entire trip.
Less frequent impersonations include Dr Phil, Simon Cowell, Kim Jong-il, Mick Jagger, Morgan Freeman, Regis Philbin, Angela Lansbury (as "Jessica Fletcher" on Murder, She Wrote), Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Larry King ("of the Jungle"), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and J. K. Rowling.
Alfredo Sauce and the Shy Fellas
Over the course of his run as host, Ferguson wished to have a house band. As a substitute, Alfredo Sauce and the Shy Fellas were created, billed as "the Shyest Band in Late Night." The leader of the fictional band had a strong Italian accent, and his hand made an appearance in one episode when it reached out from behind the curtain.
Beginning in 2008, the show began incorporating puppets in the cold open; many were given to Ferguson by Folkmanis Puppets. Ferguson stated in an interview with Playboy magazine that the impetus behind starting to do the puppets is hearing an episode of Jonesy's Jukebox during his drive in to work where "The Lonely Goatherd" was played. Upon arriving he decided to lip synch the song on air that night using some hand puppets that were already on hand. The cloth puppets have been phased out of the series since its move to the new studio in the fall of 2012, and are no longer featured in the show's new opening that premiered in September 2013, but marionettes of Drew Carey and Morgan Freeman have been used frequently in cold opens during the fall of 2013.
Puppets used on air include:
- Sid: A cute, yet vulgar white rabbit.
- Wavy Rancheros: A crocodile with a Cajun accent prone to waving his left hand at the audience (hence his name), Wavy "hosted" the show's 1,000th episode.
- The Pig/Gustave Flaubert: Used during the initial outbreak of swine flu, a pig with sideburns and a tuft of hair who has a "contempt for the bourgeoisie".
- Kronos: A monkey who wears a bellhop's uniform and claims to be from another planet.
- Brian: A shark with a wonderful singing voice.
- Punxsutawney Phil: A groundhog that speaks in a German accent.
- Sebastian Trousers: A wolf objecting to the portrayals of wolves in the movies.
- George: A slow talking French snail.
- Craig Ferguson: A highly satirized version of the host, with a giant Liza Minnelli cut-out for the head. Voiced by Josh Robert Thompson in scenes with Craig portraying Tiny Drew Carey
- Evangeline: A female ferret with a deep, male voice who is on steroids in preparation for the Olympics.
- Sandra Peterson, a remote-controlled rhino head that hangs over the fireplace; originally voiced by Dana DeLorenzo (who also portrayed "Beth", a bespectacled "CBS executive"), Sandra "returned" in 2014, voiced and operated by Josh Robert Thompson[note 2]
- Tiny Drew Carey: A small marionette of Drew Carey (though the body and head reflect Carey before his weight loss in 2010). A miniature desk is sometimes featured for Tiny Drew Carey to "sit" behind.
- Morgan Freeman: A large Morgan Freeman marionette who usually interacts with Tiny Drew Carey; voiced by Josh Robert Thompson.
- In one episode, Lauren Graham operated Nadine, a cat puppet, which appeared to have a romantic relationship with Wavy.
The Late Late Show tapes musical performances separately from the rest of the show. For example, the noise rock band No Age was videotaped on October 2, 2008 for an appearance scheduled to air October 27. That performance was also the subject of an equal-time rule controversy in which guitarist Randy Randall was not allowed to wear a pro-Barack Obama T-shirt. Randall, not wanting to cancel the appearance, chose instead to turn the T-shirt inside out.
Interview ending activities
In 2010, Ferguson began ending interviews by offering the guest a choice of activities. The choices are:
- Mouth Organ: Ferguson and the guest play the mouth organ (harmonica) briefly. Guests that can play the instrument properly are awarded the Golden Mouth Organ.
|Golden Mouth Organ winner||Date||Reference|
|Billy Connolly||December 17, 2010|||
|David Pogue||February 3, 2011|||
|Jennifer Ouellette||February 11, 2011|||
|Hugh Laurie||March 2, 2011|||
|Neil Patrick Harris||March 3, 2011|||
|Larry Scotsman Johnson (Audience member)||March 31, 2011|||
|Kevin Bacon||June 10, 2011|||
|Zooey Deschanel||July 14, 2011|||
|Jim Cummings||July 14, 2011|||
|John Goodman||July 22, 2011|||
|Jayma Mays||July 22, 2011|||
|William H. Macy||July 26, 2011|||
|Ewan McGregor||November 15, 2011|||
|Wilford Brimley||November 23, 2011|||
|Eric Idle||February 27, 2012|||
|Dr. Mehmet Oz||February 28, 2012|||
|Phil Plait||February 29, 2012|||
|Steven Tyler||May 9, 2012|||
|Andy García||June 13, 2012|||
|David Robinson (Audience member)||August 1, 2012|||
|Adam Savage||August 1, 2012|||
|Tom Hanks||November 30, 2012|||
- Awkward Pause: Ferguson and the guest act out an awkward pause together. Occasionally Ferguson and the guest would agree on a particular subtext for the awkward pause, for instance 'sexual tension awkward pause' or 'smell my finger awkward pause'.
- Big Cash Prize: Ferguson will offer the guest $7.50 in nickels for either answering a question (which always start with factoids about Iceland's capital city), or guessing 'What's in My Box?', an imaginary box that only Geoff knows the contents of. Prior to August 27, 2012, the prize was $50 in $1 bills or in quarters. Ferguson explained that the reduced prize was necessary to help pay for the new studio. During episodes taped in Scotland, the prize was awarded in pounds sterling.
- Fruit: Ferguson asks the guest if they would like a piece of fruit, selected from a basket on the desk containing tropical fruit such as mangoes, cherimoyas, and other exotic offerings. When a coconut is chosen, Ferguson proceeds to smash it open on his desk and drink the coconut milk with the guest.
- Throw Frisbees at the Horse: Ferguson and the guest attempt to hit Secretariat with frisbees.
- Guess What Her Majesty The Queen Is Thinking: A variation of the Big Cash Prize, Ferguson states that they have imagined a scenario where her majesty the queen has been wrongly imprisoned, and the guest must guess what she is thinking. He then proceeds to impersonate the queen and tell whether or not they were correct.
- True or Not True?: Another variation of the Big Cash Prize, where Ferguson utters a short story (of any matter) and the guest has to decide if it's true or not true. As with "What's in My Box", the real answer is only known to Geoff Peterson.
- Touch My Glittery Ball: The guest is encouraged to touch a small, spinning disco ball on Ferguson's desk. By mid-October 2011 Ferguson had only occasionally offered this option.
- Haggis in a TARDIS/Touch My Haggis: the guest is offered the option to touch a vegetarian haggis, supplied by Neil Gaiman, which has been stuffed into the model TARDIS which sits on Craig's desk.
- Freeze-frame High Five: Craig and guest high-five and keep pose. Only used a few times before being phased out.
During the week ending April 4, 2008, The Late Late Show attracted an average of 1.88 million total viewers; that week, for the first time since Ferguson began hosting, the show's "five-night week of original head-to-head broadcasts", which was later discovered to actually be four nights due to a difference in title, drew a larger audience than Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Reuters noted that "Ferguson's bigger accomplishment seems to be that he has merely lost fewer viewers this season, with his total audience slipping 12% from a year ago, compared with a 24% drop for O'Brien"; the year-to-year decline in viewership was attributed to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson encountered new competition in March 2009, the first night of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. During Fallon's first week, the new show averaged 2.4 million viewers, a half million more viewers than Ferguson's show. Fallon maintained his lead over Ferguson during the show's second week, but by March 16, The Late Late Show had attracted a larger audience. In July 2009, Ferguson led Late Night in total viewers by a 25% margin. On September 22, 2009, the night Ferguson followed the Letterman interview of President Obama, his audience reached 3.24 million, the show's biggest ever; Ferguson attracted two million viewers more than Jimmy Fallon and almost a million more than Conan O'Brien attracted an hour earlier. By the end of 2009, The Late Late Show topped Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in the ratings with a 1.8 rating/6 share and 1.6 rating/6 share, respectively.
By May 2010, Late Late Show and Late Night were roughly tied in the ratings, with Ferguson leading in total viewers (1.7 million compared to 1.6 million for Fallon) and Fallon having a narrow edge in ratings.
During November sweeps in 2011, The Late Late Show was third in late-late night broadcasting; its 1.7 million views were well ahead of Last Call with Carson Daly but behind the 2 million viewers of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the 1.8 million viewers of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The 2012 November sweeps saw Jimmy Kimmel Live! edge ahead of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with 2.1 million total viewers, compared to Fallon's 1.75 million and Ferguson's 1.6 million.
The April Fools stunts of 2014 featured a swap of cast between the show and The Price is Right; Craig, Shadoe, and the cast did that day's episode of Price, while Drew Carey hosted The Late Late Show with George Gray working as announcer.
- On January 30, 2006, Ferguson eulogized his father, who had died the day before. He was nominated for his first Emmy Award for the episode.
- On February 19, 2007, Ferguson announced he would do "no Britney Spears jokes", saying "comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it" and that it shouldn't include "attacking the vulnerable." He referenced his 15 years of sobriety and the struggle he had with addiction, almost ending in suicide.
- On February 4, 2008, Ferguson celebrated his first show following his swearing in as a U.S. citizen. The show featured video footage of the ceremony, his unofficial announcement of being chosen to perform at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, an interview with Kristen Bell, and a special performance by the Scottish drum band Wicked Tinkers, who also performed on the tribute to his father two years earlier.
- On September 10, 2008, he described his excitement about voting in his first U.S. Presidential election and ranted against American voter fatigue, stating, "If you don't vote, you're a moron!"
- On December 8, 2008, Ferguson remembered his mother who died December 1, while his show was on break. He told stories about his mother and how he felt after he had returned from his mother's funeral in Scotland. During the monologue, as he recounted his father's death nearly three years previously and spoke of his parents being back together in death, he became emotional to the verge of tears and cut to commercial. Prior to the break, he mentioned that his mother wanted the hymn called "Jesus Loves Me" sung at her funeral because that was the only hymn to which everyone knew the words. After the break, he showed a clip from a 2005 interview with his mother and a second clip with his mother and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. Finally, he played his mother's favorite song to end the show, which was "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.
- On March 4, 2009, he dedicated the entire show to his guest, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The cold open and monologue featured a brief history of South Africa and apartheid. The show was during a week of change in late night, with the premiere of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a show competing with The Late Late Show, occurring two days earlier. The interview received critical praise from NPR's TV critic, David Bianculli, who called the episode's monologue "nothing less than an entertaining, understandable, shockingly thorough history of South African politics and colonization" and its interview "inspirational [...] almost beyond measure." This show was given a Peabody Award March 31, 2010 for broadcasting excellence in news and entertainment.
- On April 28, 2009, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Federal Communications Commission rules imposing fines for indecent language, Ferguson said in his monologue that he "agree[d] with the Supreme Court ruling today", but then commented in the monologue and throughout the show about swearing on TV, CBS pixelating his mouth and hands, permissible and impermissible language describing sex, and whether he would be personally responsible for the FCC fines.
- On October 5, 2009, he addressed David Letterman's extortion scandal in the cold open and made a few jokes about how it was difficult for him to make fun of his own boss, even though "my job is to take the number one news story of the day and have a bit of fun with it." He called Letterman "the king of late night", and expressed humorous concern over getting fired were he to say the wrong thing. He commented, "I don't think I kept a secret from you that I've had a few incidents in my past. But I made the smart move. I wrote them down in a book", which led to a comical plug for his then-recently published book American on Purpose. In the monologue, he continued to make fun of the incident by saying "I'm sorry I keep trying not to be sexy." adding "It can get you into trouble in my line of work."
- On October 27, 2009 during an interview with Alicia Silverstone, CBS lost power due to abnormally high gusts of wind in the area, with Ferguson joking that "We've gone to radio, everybody!" before going to a commercial break. The power "returned" before the interview with Salman Rushdie (the interview was pretaped), only to "go out" again during the "What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?" segment. The next night, he commented in the cold opening that Wolf Blitzer reported on CNN that the lights went out on the show, "but how can that be news?"
- The December 15, 2009 episode was the 1,000th of Ferguson's tenure as host, and to mark the occasion, the entire show was done with puppets. "Wavy Ranchero" "filled in" as host, delivering a brief monologue and interviewing the celebrity guests, the shark puppet was used for the "Dear Aquaman" skits, and "Connery the Bull" appeared in the "A Sean Connery Holiday Memory" skits. Jason Segel appeared with a Dracula puppet, performing the song "Dracula's Lament" from his film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, accompanied by The Broken West. The only time Ferguson himself appeared on camera (aside from the opening title sequence and the "Dear Aquaman" intro) was during the closing segment in which he was on stage in his Prince Charles costume, along with many of his puppets and crew members, while Wavy "performed" to James Taylor's recording of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend". Ferguson was also seen during the closing credits which showed various captioned shots of behind-the-scenes action that took place during the episode's production.
- On January 14, 2010, Ferguson said in the cold open that he would not talk about "the trouble at late night" at NBC, because there was an actual news story about the earthquake in Haiti. Commenting on Rush Limbaugh's statement "We already donated to Haiti, it's called U.S. Income Tax", he said "Rush Limbaugh has to fill a lot of air time with saying things and occasionally saying garbage, and God knows I do that every night here." He told Limbaugh that the way to take the sting out of his statement was to donate a million dollars of his money to the Red Cross "and we'll say no more about it."
- On February 23, 2010, Ferguson did a show with a single guest and without a studio audience, a format in part inspired by Tom Snyder, who had hosted Tomorrow and the first five years of The Late Late Show in such a format. According to Ferguson, the Tonight Show host and time slot conflict got him to reflect on the "late-night traditions started by Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and 'lovingly deconstructed' by David Letterman" and prompted him to try such an experiment. Ferguson's guest for the hour was Stephen Fry.
- On April 4, 2010, the show introduced Geoff Peterson, Craig's robot skeleton sidekick. Previously, Craig had professed his desire to have his own "Robot Skeleton Army". To that end, Mythbusters' Grant Imahara volunteered to build Craig a robot skeleton sidekick if Craig got him 100,000 followers on Twitter. Originally, Craig provided the voice of Geoff, using a harsh, metallic voice in several short, pre-recorded phrases. Later that month, Josh Robert Thompson began providing Geoff's voice full-time. By mid 2011, Thompson would perform Geoff live in the studio.
- On November 16, 2010, Ferguson dedicated an entire episode to the British science fiction program Doctor Who, complete with a Dalek and guest Matt Smith. The cold open was marred when a rehearsed dance number was forced to be scrapped due to CBS not receiving legal clearance to play the Doctor Who theme song five minutes before air, much to the anger of Ferguson. The dance number later leaked on YouTube on December 1. Ferguson announced on January 3, 2011 that the dance number had finally been cleared to be shown and that it would air on the upcoming show which Alex Kingston (who plays "River Song" on Doctor Who) would guest on.
- On February 1, 2011, the show was dedicated to an examination of African-American history and culture in honor of February being Black History Month in the United States. Ferguson stated at the top of the show that as a recent immigrant to the country he was not very knowledgeable about the topic and would use that night's episode to educate himself. He also declared at the top of the show that there would be "no skeleton" and "no horse" during that night's taping (in reference to Geoff Peterson and Secretariat). His guests that night were Cornel West and George Clinton, who also performed "One Nation Under A Groove" with his band Parliament-Funkadelic.
- In June 2011 Ferguson filmed an entire week of shows in Paris, France, featuring Kristen Bell as co-host. The episodes aired during the week of August 1. Ferguson joked, "It's the first time in the history of this show that we've been allowed outside." For this week of shows, the program was temporarily re-titled Le Late Late Show avec Craig Ferguson à Paris, and Ferguson sang the show's theme song on-camera with help from two Parisian musicians: one playing a piano, the other a double bass. One YouTube video shows Ferguson recording the theme at a faster pace than what was aired.
- On August 23, 2011, Ferguson received a white substance in the mail that was feared to be anthrax. Many people were held in isolation after being exposed to the substance, but they were released after the police discovered that the powdery substance was benign. Ferguson joked about the incident on his show, explaining, "Today someone sent an envelope packed with white powder to the show. I offered to taste it, but they said 'no'".
- On February 18, 2012, Ferguson celebrated 20 years of sobriety, which he acknowledged with the Twitter posting, "You're welcome Law Enforcement Agencies".
- On the April 2, 2012, episode, Ferguson announced in the monologue that a week of shows had been taped the previous week in Scotland, mentioning that he had visited his old school. On April 26, a 2-minute, 17-second video to promote the Scotland shows was released on CBS's YouTube page and aired during the cold open the same night. The short promotional video was set to the song "Imagineer" by the Glasgow-based band The Imagineers. In the video, clips from the week of Scotland shows were shown, including one in which Ferguson steps out of the TARDIS prop from Doctor Who, and other clips featured Ferguson, and some of his guests, lip-synching to the song. The shows in Scotland began airing on May 14, 2012. Joining Ferguson were Mila Kunis, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rashida Jones, David Sedaris, and Ariel Tweto.
- On July 20, 2012, the show following the Aurora shooting began with Ferguson in a serious cold open, recorded shortly before the episode was to air. Ferguson offered his condolences to those affected by the tragedy, also noting the lack of a monologue on the night's show (the show for July 20 was recorded on July 19, before the shooting had occurred). The monologue that was scheduled to be aired was centered around The Dark Knight Rises, the movie that was being shown when the shooting occurred in the cinema. Because of this, Ferguson opted to not air the monologue but to air the remainder of the show, since he said that scrapping the entire show would be unfair to the guests and that the topic of the shooting couldn't be ignored, but that it also couldn't be discussed in front of an audience in a normal show.
- On August 8, 2012, the final episode in Studio 58 was recorded. The guests in the episode were Chris Hardwick and Carla Gugino. The end of the episode saw the entire production crew of the show standing behind Ferguson as he delivered his send off, thanking them for their work in Studio 58. The show moved to Studio 56 and began airing on August 27, 2012.
- On September 4, 2012, Ferguson opened the show with a short eulogy for his friend Michael Clarke Duncan, who died the day prior. Ferguson showed unaired footage of their trip to Scotland in April, in which he attempts to have Duncan "shoot his finger guns" at the camera for the title sequence.
- On November 9, 2012, the power went out for the first time in Craig's new studio, much to Ferguson's annoyance (Ferguson's previous studio was prone to rain leaks, bad lighting, and power outages). Ferguson made a dry comment about how they shot the monologue beforehand.
- On April 15, 2013, the show following the Boston Marathon bombings began with Ferguson, seated at his desk, talking to the audience about the bombings, his feelings about them, his personal relationship with the city of Boston, and the lack of a proper open and monologue for the show, stating that it would be "insensitive, at best" to open the show with "It's a great day for America." He also explained the bombings might come up again during the show, saying, "This is on my mind; I can't pretend it's not there." Along with the monologue, the show omitted the opening sequence, the usual "Tweets & Email" segment (going straight into the first interview following the first commercial), and the usual "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?" segment at the end of the show. Geoff Peterson and Secretariat were also absent. During the show, Ferguson talked briefly about the bombings to his guests, Rob Lowe and Larry King. To end the show, Ferguson addressed his audience in Boston, saying, "Our thoughts are with you, and we'll see how it goes. Good luck to you." Time magazine later placed Ferguson's monologue at number one on its list of the Top 10 Late Night Moments of 2013.
- On April 1, 2014, Ferguson and Drew Carey exchanged hosting duties in an April Fools' Day prank, with Ferguson hosting The Price Is Right and Carey hosting The Late Late Show.
- On September 19, 2014, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson aired its 2,000th episode.
- On December 18, 2014, in advance of the final show, Craig introduced Josh Robert Thompson as the voice of Geoff Peterson and others in the show's cold open. He received a standing ovation.
- On December 19, 2014, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson aired its final episode with Jay Leno as the featured guest. In the cold open Ferguson performed Dead Man Fall's song "Bang Your Drum" accompanied by Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick (plus dog Lily), Jack Black, Kristen Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Carell, Don Cheadle, Kristin Chenoweth, Marion Cotillard, Tenacious D, Jeff Daniels, Ted Danson, Kat Dennings, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Carl Edwards, Cedric the Entertainer, Jon Hamm, Sean Hayes, Samuel L. Jackson, Rashida Jones, Toby Keith, Jimmy Kimmel, Mila Kunis, Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, Justin Long, James Marsden, Matthew McConaughey, Mary McCormack, Joel McHale, Tim Meadows, Metallica, Kunal Nayyar, Geoff Peterson, Regis Philbin, Ray Romano, Bob Saget, William Shatner, Michael Sheen, Quentin Tarantino, Josh Robert Thompson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Henry Winkler, Shailene Woodley, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Larry King, Angela Kinsey, Betty White, Thomas Lennon, Secretariat and Ferguson's bunny and alligator puppets in a pre-taped montage which segued to the song continuing live in studio with Ferguson singing backed by occasional semi-house band Bone Patrol, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and a choir and various celebrities, musicians and friends of the show accompanying on stage. The What Did We Learn segment at the end of the show revealed Secretariat, the pantomime horse, to be Bob Newhart at which point the segment became a parody of the Newhart series finale with Ferguson as Mr. Wick from The Drew Carey Show waking up from a bad dream, in bed with Drew Carey revealing the 10 years of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to have been a dream. References to the series finales of St. Elsewhere and The Sopranos were also made.
- Ferguson in his cold open for the April 28 broadcast noted that it was "my decision to go. This is not Jay [Leno] and Conan [O'Brien] at NBC, this is not Jay and Dave [Letterman] all these years ago, it's not that." Several unofficial uploads of the video are available at YouTube.
- The character's return occurred during a Tweets and E-mails segment in January. Unofficial videos have been uploaded to YouTube.
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The show actually ended, as usual these days, with "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?", a segment in which the host removes his tie, shoes and socks and puts his barefeet on his desk, and summarizes the preceding hour of TV.
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First and foremost, we were looking for a digital console that was 5.1-capable....[and one that would] interface with the rest of the building digitally through our digital routers and digital tape machines. We also wanted a lot of inputs without a tremendous footprint for the console.
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Craig Ferguson's "Late Late Show" is getting a high-def upgrade. The show will be broadcast in HD for the first time starting August 31. The evening will also mark the debut of a new show credit sequence that features Ferguson in iconic Los Angeles locations scored to an updated version of the current theme song.
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For more than a year, Ferguson has been using an array of fantastic Folkmanis® Puppets in comedy skits. On Tuesday, December 15, to celebrate the milestone 1,000th episode, specially created puppets and old favorites will take over the entire show!
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Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the extensions likely mean raises for both Letterman, who is already late night's richest man pulling down an estimated $28 million per year, and Ferguson, who is said to be making in the neighborhood of $13 million.
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Mr. Obama's appearance also helped deliver viewers to the program that follows Mr. Letterman, "The Late Late Show," hosted by Craig Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson attracted his biggest audience ever, with 3.24 million viewers. He beat his NBC competitor, Jimmy Fallon, by more than two million viewers, and outdrew him in every audience category. (He even topped Mr. O’Brien in viewers by almost a million.)
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Benefiting from a first-place lead-in and an earlier start time than its rivals, ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" was first in late-late night during November sweeps with 2.0 million total viewers, the show's best number for any sweeps period in its nine-year history. NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" was second with 1.8 million viewers, CBS's "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" third at 1.7 million and NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" fourth at 1.0 million. Among 18-49s “Kimmel,” "Late Night" and "Late Late Show" each averaged a 0.6 rating, with the 1:37 am "Last Call" fourth with a 0.3.
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