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Susan Braudy Headshot

The Late Night Wars: Craig Ferguson

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I flip past Jimmy Fallon--really fast.

Not an unpleasant person, you say.

But here's my issue: I'm a Craig Ferguson junkie--and Ferguson and Fallon are now late-night talk show rivals at 12:30.

Craig is very different from-- I swear--you, me, or anybody.

But, hey, remember your first taste of aged goat cheese, or a fudge sundae, or when you surprised yourself by laughing aloud while someone made fun of you.

That's Craig Ferguson.

Basically, I can't bear the idea of falling asleep five nights a week without his reformed bad-boy, self-mocking, utterly witty, nuanced, and intimate conversation.

I love his brain. He and his boss Dave Letterman are TV's smartest guys.

Craig handles the "late-night wars" with understated sweet aplomb. One night he showed us buckets for the rain leaking into "our so-called studio". Later that week, he showed us an empty chair abandoned by his producer because of electric leaks.

He urged us to tune in again because rain was expected and with the haywire
electricity, we'd get a show with great production values. "Take that my late-night competitors who have real bands."

Even swaggery Sean P.Diddy Comb meekly told Craig, "You crack me up and the way you make people laugh's a blessing."

I giggle when Craig flirts with dazzling black actresses. And when he teases Brits (Hugh Laurie, Michael Caine, Julie Andrews) I feel I'm flying in BBC heaven.

The man totally gets late-night tv--he walks into the tv camera and slaps it and says seductively "come on in, welcome...you look great tonight...it's something you've done to your hair, let it down, swoosh it, you too ladies. "

After he says something utterly weird: he inhales and says as if he's holding marijuana in his lungs--"Your welcome stoners."

And what about his cross-dressing imitation of J.K.Rowling hosting her own talk show--he pats a blonde pageboy, laughing helplessly at himself, and in a decorous falsetto, says he's richer than anybody and throws dollar bills in the air. Or what about his toothy ermine-cloaked Prince Charles, host of the raaather late show in Britain. Or his Angela Lansbury imitation again in BBC falsetto: "Has there been a muuu---der?"

Ferguson's an autodidact with pitch perfect language skills--and his monologue, unscripted, is 10 times more entertaining a New Yorker short story. And he means people well.

How on this earth did such a person get into my bedroom (at a safe distance of course).

Thank you David Letterman.

Consistently self-deprecating, Craig mumbles, "Even creeped m'self out there for a minute,." before I get that he's just made a bad joke.

He dances like a rock star as the network goes to commercial break. He urges us to buy all products advertised on CBS--with wide-eyed, innocent irony.

Look, I'm conveying an impoverished reflection of the man's rollercoaster, kaleidoscopic personality.

After Craig, I go to sleep smiling instead of letting dark thoughts roil my brain and I also shut down malevolent, self-blaming reviews of my day.

Here's proof of how good the man is.

I'm a writer, an author, and tv has cut into my business bigtime and yet I feel blessed to
have such high-class entertainment (Craig's an outrageous low-brow and a high-brow--the best combo) at the foot of my bed night after night.

If Jimmy Fallon lays a hand on Craig, I'll be one angry insomniac.

This column also appeared in the West Side Spirit newspaper.