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Hi Craig! July 24, 2009 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday's Craig Ferguson thread was kicked off with a comment by argedee: "I could be that funny too, with a laugh track like that." The thread turned into a discussion about laugh tracks and whether Craig uses one or not. In his monologue last night, Craig addressed "rumors on the internet" that his audience laughter isn't real. Argedee got called out on late night TV!

"Yes, they're an audience machine operated by a teamster backstage. There are two things we can be sure of: I'm not funny and they're not an audience machine! Don't you ever call my friends an audience machine again." Craig is mad at us.

The Late Late Show page's clip of Craig's monologue cuts out the rumored laugh track part of the discussion, but you can still hear him call the audience an audience machine from time to time.
posted by painquale to MetaFilter-Related at 2:03 PM (112 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

I saw the thread, and then giggled when I happened to catch Ferguson and he brings up that same topic. More than a coincidence, I decided, and I hoped that more people than I would be talking about it today. He never seemed to mention specifically where this came from, but it's pretty unlikely that some other internet rumor started on the same day from some other place.
(Also, the bit where he ran around shaking his fist at the "Audience Machine" because they weren't reacting appropriately was rather funny)
posted by Monster_Zero at 2:15 PM on July 24, 2009


I'm just glad ardegree didn't "call bullshit" on Ferguson, thereby making us all look like uncouth potty-mouthed vulgarians by proximity.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:15 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


About a month ago he brought his entire studio audience onstage to prove they exist. You don't think that's also related to Metafilter somehow, do you?

(that clip is pretty damn funny, btw)
posted by O9scar at 2:22 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


If Craig Ferguson is reading this, most of all I want to thank you for not being Craig Kilborn.
posted by blenderfish at 2:23 PM on July 24, 2009 [41 favorites]


Wow, the guy from Drew Carry's late night show is still on?

I had no idea.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:23 PM on July 24, 2009


MetaFilter empowers us all, just think how cool we will all be when the singularity emerges right here in our digs.

I call shotgun! Dibs on eternal life through uploaded consciousness!
posted by Meatbomb at 2:24 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb: Dibs on eternal life through uploaded consciousness!

Uploaded consciousness?

...dude, the real party starts when we have uploaded our bodies!

and ourselves
posted by Kattullus at 2:31 PM on July 24, 2009


If Craig Ferguson is reading this, most of all I want to thank you for not being Craig Kilborn.

A-fuckin-men.
posted by scody at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2009


I'm Internet-famous on television?
posted by ardgedee at 2:52 PM on July 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


This youtube user seems to be religiously uploading CF's shows. Here's the bit from last night.

Thank you MeFi for introducing to the fact that this dude is hilarious. I now declare him, with my power as King Of the Internet, to be the best talk show host on TV. NEXT CASE.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


ardgedee i hereby banish you to Reddit for your insolence. i said GOOD DAY SIR
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:05 PM on July 24, 2009


The thing is, I like Craig Ferguson, what I've heard of him. I've never watched his talk show before because, well, I haven't got a Tivo and I don't stay up late -- actually, I don't watch much TV at all. The audience reaction in that clip everichon posted struck the wrong nerve in me, and that doesn't really change things whether it was fake or just a really loud audience; I'm not used to hearing the audience reaction cranked up to nearly the volume of the people onstage with the mics. It sounds artificial to me, even if it's not artificially-generated. With that to start on, all there was left to do was get cranky and talk like an asshat in public.

So, I apologize for making false accusations against Craig Ferguson and his production staff, and for derailing everichon's thread. Read that on the air if you want to. But dudes: if some crack team of soundboard ninjas turns up evidence that you're lying, whichever of you is hanging out on Metafilter is getting a callout of your own. Right here. On the Internet.
posted by ardgedee at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


How the hell did Metafilter get so tight in the media loop?
posted by grobstein at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2009


How the hell did Metafilter get so tight in the media loop?

Hardcore taters.
posted by loquacious at 3:33 PM on July 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


"Yes, they're an audience machine operated by a teamster backstage. There are two things we can be sure of: I'm not funny and they're not an audience machine! Don't you ever call my friends an audience machine again." Craig is mad at us.

Quote's missing the part that makes it ardgedee-specific:

"Thank you! Thank you, audience-machine-being-operated-by-a-teamster-backstage! Really, Craig? I thought you had a real audience. No you didn't-- you thought I had an audience machine. You thought the audience machine was turned on, it was turned up too high. You could probably be funny if you had an audience machine. Two things: I'm not funny and they are not an audience machine. Don't you ever call my friends an audience machine again."
posted by zennie at 3:40 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow, that is pretty specific. I guess Craig or one of his minions, or one of his minion's friends, might be MetaFilter's own. Either that or Craig self-googles daily to see who's talking about him.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:48 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I...didn't even know Craig Ferguson existed until I watched this clip. But! This clip is great. So if Mr. Ferguson is reading this...uh...dude, they need to not put your show on at like one AM.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:53 PM on July 24, 2009


C'mon Craig Ferguson. I see you jockin' me.
posted by Eideteker at 3:54 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


How the hell did Metafilter get so tight in the media loop?

Certain writers read MeFi to procrastinate for inspiration.
posted by zennie at 4:06 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd like to take this moment to thank Jon Stewart for also not being Craig Kilborne.
posted by brevator at 4:22 PM on July 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


Quote's missing the part that makes it ardgedee-specific:

Yeah, sorry, I was trying to transcribe it from TV as it was playing live and mucked it up I guess. Those are summary quotes.

I can't decide who I like more, Letterman or Ferguson. In any case, Ferguson is the perfect successor to Letterman, just like Conan made sense as Leno's successor. Leno and Conan are doofy and friendly and round; Letterman and Ferguson are snarky and teasing and angular. NBC has the class clowns who used laughter to make bullies like them; CBS has the sarcastic wiseasses who used mockery to make bullies feel stupid.
posted by painquale at 4:29 PM on July 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


No -- I hate it when ardgedee and Ferguson fight! Please stop!

I think Ferguson should invite ardgedee over to have a beer or ardgedee should bring Ferguson a MeFi t-shirt. Precedent has been set.
posted by maudlin at 4:30 PM on July 24, 2009


It's a great day for MetaFilter?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:42 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


This youtube user seems to be religiously uploading CF's shows. Here's the bit from last night.

Ok, he handled that with much style.

But see what I mean in the previous clip? "What is it, Scooter?" *audience laughs uproariously*

He's pumping nitrous into that studio. It's the only explanation.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:51 PM on July 24, 2009


Also, I would like to thank Craig Kilborne for not being Mike Bullard.

So that they can participate in a deathmatch
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Isn't it possible that they have a live audience yet they also add a laugh track?

Listening to that clip, that is one well trained audience that starts and stops on a dime and laughs at any stupid remark. If that's a real audience, they should package them up and sell them... Yet I don't think they'd sell because they sound so fucking fake.
posted by fleacircus at 4:55 PM on July 24, 2009


I'm sorry.
posted by everichon at 4:56 PM on July 24, 2009


Craig's show is pretty decent I guess. Having said that, I think you can have an audience and a laugh track.

Craig please don't be wroth I'm just saying.
posted by boo_radley at 5:02 PM on July 24, 2009


Mike Bullard

Oh you can screw right off, you just made me think of Mike Bullard after years of not thinking of him. And now you made me lose the game!
posted by painquale at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2009


Dude has his own late night talk show and he can't even be bothered to pony up $5 and call out ardgedee in MeTa? Weak.

maudlin: "I think Ferguson should invite ardgedee over to have a beer or ardgedee should bring Ferguson a MeFi t-shirt. Precedent has been set."

I, for one, can vouche for ardgedee's excellent shirt-delivery skillz.
posted by Phire at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2009


I'd like to take a moment to call bullshit on Obama and his public option health care plan. (And double bullshit on single payer.)

Now prove me wrong!
posted by DU at 5:37 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whatever, I made some hothead comments about Skip Gates on MeFi and the President of the United States talked about it that night. So there.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:55 PM on July 24, 2009


The Late Late Show is genius. I've watched several of his interviews: they are good. I've watched several of his rants: they are good. And now he just maxed out the bizarre. Perfect.

A YT Craig Ferguson Channel.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 PM on July 24, 2009


(YT channel courtesy of Potomac Avenue, above)
posted by five fresh fish at 5:59 PM on July 24, 2009


If Craig Ferguson is reading this, most of all I want to thank you for not being Craig Kilborn.

I think I might be the last person on Earth who preferred The Daily Show when Kilborn was the host.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:43 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I might be the last person on Earth who preferred The Daily Show when Kilborn was the host.

Yup! You should make a t-shirt!
posted by lazaruslong at 6:49 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


People I am glad are not Craig Kilborn (and who are glad Kilborn gets bored and quits cool jobs:

Craig Ferguson (who replaced him on the Late Late Show)
Jon Stewart (who replaced him on The Daily Show)
Keith Olbermann (who, if I recall correctly, replaced him on ESPN SportsCenter many years ago)
Arno Fischberg (who replaced him as manager at the Oxnard In-n-Out Burger last month)
posted by wendell at 6:54 PM on July 24, 2009 [17 favorites]


And that should be "It's a great day for MetaFilter", albeit a bit USAcentric. Because, you know, Craig's Audience Machine lives in our country (for certain values of 'lives').
posted by wendell at 6:59 PM on July 24, 2009


Nearly every live studio audience sounds "fake."

First of all the weren't plied with rum, shanghaied by dockworkers, hit on the head, and forced to be in an audience. These people WANT to be there. The got tickets. They stood in a line, possibly for an hour or more. The audience KNOWS who Craig Ferguson is. It's not like they are lost mid western goobers who thought they were in line for CATS and suddenly Ferguson walks out.

Second there is a warm up and floor director who coach them on when and when not to laugh. What do you expect? Some lone old deranged grandpa to yell "HEY! This isn't Jack Par! You suck you drunken Pictish lout!" in the middle of the set? Things are coordinated for a reason.

And Third. People don't usually go to TV show audiences to sit and harrumph or chant "rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb" under their breath. These People want to laugh. See laughing relieves stress. It makes you live longer. Normal people like it.

I like Ferguson. The only thing he's guilty of is having a regular gig and making some small scrap money on a couple of mediocre TV shows. The Bastard. How dare he. Why can't he wallow in obscurity in filthy comedy clubs the rest of his life and be edgy and poor and shit?

Ferguson shows rare sensitivity. Like his take on Britnay Spears drug and alcohol abuse. His bits dare to have a spec of humanity and don't wallow in the tired irony or bitter cynicism that seems to be the lingua franca of the shorter lived "hot" comics. His interviews are pretty god damned good and sometimes insightful. And he's Scottish. And by that I mean I'm afraid he or one of his many cousins may headbutt me if I say anything bad about him. I've chipped a tooth on the thick skull of a Scottsman. And that one LIKED me.
posted by tkchrist at 7:01 PM on July 24, 2009 [25 favorites]


Having a live audience does not mean that the laughs are real.

In this episode of Radiolab
, "we explore the rise and fall of a group of professional laughers hired to laugh for money on Fran Drescher's show "The Nanny.""

The people on the audience have laugh too well to have been randomly selected. I heard no snorting laughter, no donkey laughter, no coughing laughter. They were all loud clear contagious laughter.
posted by dirty lies at 7:05 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


>you just made me think of Mike Bullard after years of not thinking of him.
moi aussi.
Thinking of the (blind) guest who subdued a mugger... thinking of Tie Domi telling him that Sergei Berezin loved the Mike Bullard show more than any other show... thinking of his references to the 1980s fifty-goal-scorer Mike Bullard... thinking of that Toronto Life (maybe) photo of him nude on a bear skin rug in front of a raging fireplace...
posted by philfromhavelock at 7:14 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Craig Ferguson is viciously funny and completely charming, and anyone who likes MetaFilter is well advised to check out his show at least once. I've been watching it religiously for the last few months (don't know why I started) and have yet to see a bad show. The interviews are always an amazing exercise in free association, and that's not even half of what makes the show great.

Sigh, still skeptical? Fine. He said last week that growing up his music idols were Elvis Presley and Joe Strummer. Doesn't that at least pique your interest?

Fire up your TV timeshifting device.
posted by intermod at 7:34 PM on July 24, 2009


I highly recommend that episode linked to by dirty lies. (The professional laugher business starts at 22 minutes in.)
posted by philfromhavelock at 7:45 PM on July 24, 2009


but it's pretty unlikely that some other internet rumor started on the same day from some other place

It is?
posted by juiceCake at 8:55 PM on July 24, 2009


It's possible that it originated here. It seems that someone(s) on Ferguson's staff combs the message boards and internet pretty often.

Hoffman Message Boards/Ferguson

However, if you Google Craig Ferguson laugh track, you'll find that the fake audience/laugh track thing has been going on for a pretty long while. With another mention in the comments of Entertainment Weekly this past Wednesday. (See comment at 12:06 pm)

posted by jeanmari at 9:12 PM on July 24, 2009


Man, I'm glad I'm not drinking because I would have spit it out.

Here's CF on NPR's Wait Wait Don't tell me. Yeah, people there want to laugh, and get warmed up, but geez, this guy's great!
posted by lysdexic at 9:13 PM on July 24, 2009


I think I might be the last person on Earth who preferred The Daily Show when Kilborn was the host.

I'm going to have to ask you to put down your internet and turn in your television. You are hereby sentenced to 20 years of listening to "Who's On First" on an infinite loop.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:52 PM on July 24, 2009


I got me a new addiction. Craig Ferguson is brilliant.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is there a stock market system for would-be independent performers? How can I invest in CF, in a way that makes him able to do more of his own thing? This seems like something the web should be doing: making it possible to put money into micro-businesses...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only good Tom Green ever did was make Bullard puke on his own show.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:43 PM on July 24, 2009


I've got this dumbass thing I do where I hold all cast members of shit sitcoms or annoying commercials responsible for the terrible show they came to my attention on, long after the show has gone off the air. I missed out on years of Kathy Griffen hilarity because I hadn't realized that Suddenly Susan wasn't her fault.

I did the same thing with Craig Ferguson as well, unfortunately. The Drew Carey Show was broadcast for twice as many seasons as it was funny, so when I saw that "Drew Carey's Boss" had taken over a talk show I didn't watch much in the first place, I barely paid it any attention. Only recently did he win me over, on the strength of a single bit that I heard only because I was too lazy to go into the next room and change the channel. Really, when was the last time you heard a late night talkshow host do a whole monologue about Bastille Day?

I gotta break this habit - it's not these performers' fault they wind up doing some time performing in a questionable broadcast. Before anyone becomes a bigshot, they're just another schmo looking for work, any work. On very rare occasions, I've managed to get out in front of my collective dismissal instinct. For instance, the girl from the Progressive Commercials, Stephanie Courtney? Really funny!

(Note to Ms. Courtney - if whoever's lurking MeFi from the Ferguson show books you on his program on the strength of the clip I've just linked, please ask your current employer to hook me up with some free insurance. And a car to insure, please. kthnx!)
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:48 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love Craig Ferguson, but you know one of the things I love best about Craig Ferguson? What happens to him in interviews with vapid actresses and people like Paris Hilton. All the late night hosts know that you can't let a boring person be boring on air, and they also know they need to at least pretend that their interviewee is engaging. So they are forced to exaggerate interest. But they use this fake interest to different ends. Conan feigns interest in order to compare the interviewee's fabulous Hollywood life to the pathetic one of his persona; he tries to squeeze in as many self-deprecating jokes as possible. Dave feigns interest in order to try to get the interviewee to say something stupid so Dave doesn't need to do the mockery himself.

But Craig? Craig feigns interest because he is hitting on them. This isn't to say that he's looking for something to happen. But does put on the teasing, I-might-be-interested-so-impress-me attitude of a roue. The flirtation and sexual tension are intense. His posture changes, he sexualizes discussion, he starts oozing messy charisma all over the place, and I swear you can see his nostrils flare. The guy is James Bond with a sense of humor. You can tell he used to be a real charmer.
posted by painquale at 12:21 AM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to think I didn't like Craig Furguson, because I only really saw one interview he gave and he made some jokes that just kind of annoyed me.. I guess it was just a crummy day for him. But the clips you guys have been linking to in here are cracking me up. I love the puppets. Now I'm going to have to go to the original FPP and prowl for more links to clips.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:38 AM on July 25, 2009


You can tell he used to be a real charmer.

Used to be? He clearly still is!

We don't get Craig Ferguson's late night show on Philippine TV, so thank god for YouTube and that protocol we're not supposed to know about. He's a great talk show host (sorry Conan, Craig's my favorite now), and seeing him interview Hugh Laurie damn near made my head asplode! But what really sealed the deal was when he made a statement about Britney Spears, his erstwhile alchoholism, and the type of humor he wanted to bring to the world. Sensitive, principled, AND funny - who wouldn't be charmed?
posted by Lush at 1:30 AM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah ha ha ha, that Hugh Laurie interview is great! The hoyay, the hoyay!
posted by painquale at 1:45 AM on July 25, 2009


I hate that Ferguson is on too late for me to watch more than rarely (and of course, it didn't occur to me to capture him in my time-shift mechanism until this post, duh), but on the other hand, I hope he never ever ever ever ever ever ever gets moved to the earlier slot since that seems to suck all the wacky square-peg brilliance right out of people.

Instead, I just keep counting the roughly 7300 days until I can move back to Central time, where late-night shows are on at a civilized hour.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:30 AM on July 25, 2009


Whoever posted that Hugh Laurie interview really wasted a perfectly good FPP, the way these guys run with it is amazing.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:48 AM on July 25, 2009


I think it's great that the guy who uploads all the Ferguson clips blurs our the CBS logo.

"Hey, Joe, isn't this illegal? And you're labeling everything 'Craig Ferguson Late Late Show.' It's going to be pretty easy for the CBS lawyers to find out that someone is uploading the whole show every day."

"No problemo, Frank! I've blurred the logo. They can't prove a thing!"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:11 AM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I might be the last person on Earth who preferred The Daily Show when Kilborn was the host.

If it's any comfort, Bulgaroktonos, I did feel that way immediately after Kilborn left the show—I'd gotten used to that very specific schtick he had going on, it was sort of a polished and reliable performance that for better or for worse really, really fit Kilborn.

I didn't really know what to make of Jon Stewart's induction, and I sort of wandered away from the show for a few years after Craig left.

I very much prefer now the modern one to the old Kilborn format, but I've had time to come back to the show and get to know Jon Stewart a bit better in the mean time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:04 AM on July 25, 2009


Most of these talk shows now only accept ticket requests from rabid fans. They have to answer a battery of questions before being deemed worthy of receiving tickets. Letterman started this trend when he moved to CBS. You have to prove you love Dave to get in. That's why every audience is so juiced. I've never seen Ferguson but I'm positive the same smoke and mirros is going on there.

When I was at The Food Network, they had a guy there whose sole purpose was screening potential audience members for Emeril Live. That's why everyone sitting around that set looked so hypnotized and "indoctrinated".

And I guarantee you wouldn't be saying "people like Paris Hilton" if you actually met her. She's a sweetie pie.
posted by Zambrano at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2009


Hooray for the power of the internet! (They're crawling all over it now so bye bye to you soon, lovely link of freedom..)
posted by h00py at 8:25 AM on July 25, 2009


Audience screening makes sense for a number of reasons, I think. Craig's show uses a company to get audience members. I don't think they're screened to the extent Dave's are, but they do try for people who watch the show at home.

I suspect the audience sounds so good because studio crews have figured out how to mic and prep the audience properly, and LLS has a really good sound mixer.
posted by zennie at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2009


don't forget about the pre-show warmup. it's usually done by some comic who tells lame jokes and 'teaches' the audience to rrrrrreeeally reeeeeeaaally clap loud because it really 'helps us.' one popular gimmick is to promise a cd or some other cheap shwag to the one audience member who laughed the loudest during their taping.

I've been a few times to tapings at the cbs television city facility and got bombarded with snickers bars at bill maher's real time (I was sitting somewhere in the back of the audience and must have been on screen for a millisecond and still friends and coworkers came up to me for weeks to inquire if that really had been me. that was quite surreal.), shaken by the guy at then kilborns show ("are you there? anybody home?") and "enjoyed" bass-heavy tracks for half an hour akin to that old snap song the power waiting for ferguson to appear. they take your phones, books, cameras, laptops, newspapers and by the end of that half hour you're pretty much happy to see anything happen. the audiences at these shows have been starved from pretty much all input for a while and suddenly get something, thus the reaction.

btw: one of the few people who came out before he went on stage at a show I attended was conan. I never made it into lettermans show. they just never called me back.
posted by krautland at 9:27 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's great that the guy who uploads all the Ferguson clips blurs our the CBS logo.

Freudian typo? Pater Aletheias is really a lurking Les Moonves?

Or maybe Moon-Vest.
posted by rokusan at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2009


seeing him interview Hugh Laurie

Well see, the excellence of that interview obscures the audience machine. Confound the mixers.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:26 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aha!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:39 AM on July 25, 2009


I guarantee you wouldn't be saying "people like Paris Hilton" if you actually met her. She's a sweetie pie.

I don't doubt it. But she's a perfect example of someone that Conan ostentatiously defers to, Dave tries to make look stupid, and Craig hits on.
posted by painquale at 10:45 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


When he has the studio audience on stage, the laughing all sounds the same, it sounds the same as they're heading back to their seats. I'm crabby and hateful today, so I'll just sit here and wait for time to prove me right. Mutter mutter mutter.
posted by fleacircus at 10:47 AM on July 25, 2009


and Craig hits on

Heh? Ok, I just watched her Nov 2008 appearance. She's somewhat flirty and he's leaning way back and not being flirty at all. Thinking of a different interview?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:55 AM on July 25, 2009


and Craig hits on

Yeah, I'm surprised that's how you categorize it - they all sort of hit on the unexciting but attractive actresses, but with different styles. To me Conan is the most obviously sleazy about it, acting childishly excited about their presence. Dave, like you say, tries to make them look bad, but at the same time has to try to make them think they're being charmed so they won't get pissy. Craig is usually the most original, going off on random tangents and getting into whatever topic... He's a charmer because he's being a performer more than because he's specifically responding to that guest - he does it with male guests as well. (Whereas, to me, Conan is totally different with someone like Paris than he is with a male guest...)
posted by mdn at 11:10 AM on July 25, 2009


Yeah, I'm surprised that's how you categorize it - they all sort of hit on the unexciting but attractive actresses, but with different styles.

Maybe I am miscategorizing it; they all definitely do it to some extent. Dave's lascivious pretty often. I've never thought of Conan as really all that sleazy with his female guests. That's interesting. I don't watch enough Leno to know what he's like. But there have been plenty of times when I've watched Craig and thought, man, this guy is a player. Maybe it's just that he's the only one who's really good at it. He's got this you-know-you-can't-keep-up-with-me-but-you-know-you-want-to-try thing down pat.

She's somewhat flirty and he's leaning way back and not being flirty at all.

But that's exactly the kind of behavior I mean. He sets it up so that she does all the work! I didn't mean he leans in and heavily mouth-breathes like that oily what's-his-name from that How to Date show. He's good at it. I dunno, if you guys don't see flirtation in his interviews, then we probably just mean different things by the word. He's equally charming with men and women, but when women (or Hugh Laurie) come on there's added sexual tension, which he encourages and brings up often, so it reads like amazingly adept flirtation to me.
posted by painquale at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2009


Paris may be a sweetheart, but she's an awful interview. And pretty much the quintessence of the kind of guest that these guys have to lead by the nose as painquale describes. I remember when she was making the rounds pimping her new album. Of course they all want her to come on their shows, and they just as obviously don't give a damn about her attempt at a musical career. Dave very politely just asked her, "Well, would you like to sing a little something for us right now?" Of course she couldn't; she can't sing. So she's left floundering for excuses and looking stupid.

I went to a few show tapings years and years ago. I never went to a late-night show, but I'm assuming the sitcom warm-ups were pretty similar. I don't remember how explicitly they would say it, but they left you feeling that you were a part of the show, and its success depended on you. You might not be on camera, but your laugh was going to be on TV! You were definitely performing.
posted by team lowkey at 11:52 AM on July 25, 2009


Paris may be a sweetheart, but she's an awful interview... have to lead by the nose

Exactly. And that's what we see here.

Dave's the most obvious flirt of the bunch. He's just no good at it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:15 PM on July 25, 2009


You all clearly have missed out on Craig Ferguson's great film achievement, playing a vampire whose wife was pregnant when she became a vampire and so is now pregnant for all eternity, in the Casper van Dien fail-fest Modern Vampires. From IMDB: "A borderline fascistic Dr. Van Helsing unwittingly hires crack smoking gang-bangers to pursue the decadent vampires who secretly control Hollywood and the United States." What's not to love?

It is truly what made me fall in love with Craig, and allowed him to fuel my insomnia to this very day.
posted by Tesseractive at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Paris being a sweetheart in private is like Hitler being interested in gardening; that's super and all, but it's so tertiary to the public ambitions and personal accomplishments of the figure in question that bringing it up reads like special pleading from someone too addled to realize what they're saying.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


OMG mod Godwin!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


itym modwin
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:14 PM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Craig needs to say "I have a fish in my pants" in his next show. And Then We'll Know For Sure.

Or he could do a shoutout to Mathowie, our fearless leader.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2009


Hey, if he's gonna do a MeFi bit, he'd best commit to it - don't say you've got a fish in your pants, Craig, drop a live one in there and try to do your monologue with it flopping around! Pour some beans on a plate and zoom in real, real close while you discuss everything, everything that brought those beans to your stage - the biological and economic processes of farming, how the beans were cooked, canned and shipped, the engineering history of your can opener, a detailed discussion on the materials of the plate, be it plastic, glass or ceramic. Really overthink those motherfuckers. Confuse the shit out of your wider audience and delight beyond measure those Mefites who fall into the Venn diagram of being on Metafilter, watching your show and reading enough MetaTalk to get whatever in joke you go with.

We could probably wrangle up a free t-shirt for your effort! Go for it, Craig!
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I might be the last person on Earth who preferred The Daily Show when Kilborn was the host.

I remember when Stewart became the host, I was very attached to Kilborn and Stewart's first several shows were really quite crappy -- he seemed extremely nervous -- so I quit watching it. A year later I watched again and suddenly he was great, and I've preferred him ever since.

I only saw a bit of Kilborn's late night show so I can't fully appreciate all the snark. However, I will say that the bit I saw was pretty irritating. I quit watching it after a minute or two so as not to taint my memory of him from the Daily Show.
posted by Nattie at 2:15 PM on July 25, 2009


And argedee brought my Mefi shirt across the border! My mefi shirt was touched by the man who angered Craig Ferguson! Therefore I am FAMOUS! Again!
posted by SassHat at 2:24 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else liked gardening?

That's right, Peter Sellers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on July 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


I was gratified to see Craig move beyond the initial "audience machine" gag to running around shaking his fist or shooting haute cuisine Cheez Wiz at them accompanied by "Sabre Dance."
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:39 PM on July 25, 2009


This interview with Ewan McGregor killed me as well.

Keep posting the great Craig links, people. I'm not really a fan of the dress-up skits that he does (Aquaman, bleh) other than the musical intros, but I do like that he always loses it in the middle of them.

Craig would be a good Oscars host.
posted by painquale at 2:49 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really, when was the last time you heard a late night talkshow host do a whole monologue about Bastille Day?

Yeah, that's what really impresses me about his show. Not only can he do a long, coherent and funny monologue about one story or one theme, and on occasion he uses the whole time to devote to a serious theme, but the network lets him do it. The monologue is a challenging format, because nobody can really outdo Johnny Carson, and the tendency is towards the bland and unchallenging. It becomes too easy to cruise through it after a while and just tell half-assed topical jokes. Ferguson has the talent to do longer form stand-up, like the storyteller style of comedy that Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor used to do, and they actually let him do his thing in the monologue. It's great. IIRC, his show is produced by Letterman, so maybe that's why.

I remember the original You Bet Your Life, with Groucho Marx. The thing that made that show great was Groucho Marx, so they revolved the show around what he did well, which was ad-libbing and interviewing. Craig Ferguson's monologues and interviews are the real strength of the show, and most of the show is the monologue and guest interviews, but there are always skits to break up the pace. The skits are a bit silly, not in the best way, but I get the feeling some of the audience really likes that. The overdone impersonations are OK, but he needs better writers for that stuff. Conan does crazy slapstick pretty well, but his monologues are pedestrian and mostly are about him bouncing around. I think Ferguson is the stronger host, and I hope the network keeps it alive long enough to let him develop a real following, but they need better writers for the skits. Dave Foley and Tim Meadows are on those skits all the time, and they both have the capacity to be much funnier with the right material. Although ... unlike painquale, gotta admit I like the Aquaman skits, mostly because the wig is so bad it's hilarious, though it's pretty ridiculous.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:03 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you see part 2, painquale? Good stuff.
posted by geekyguy at 4:46 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Craig needs to say "I have a fish in my pants" in his next show. And Then We'll Know For Sure.

no, I think he should stick to on the internet. that way every other bob in every other forum is going to think it must have been their ranting that provoked his response. I look forward to boingboing and reddit people both claiming in no less than a month that whenever craig said "...on the internet" they meant them. oh, and ebaum will claim that as well but he claims anything he can anyway.
posted by krautland at 5:10 PM on July 25, 2009


Well, my brilliantly-executed trap that involved making a thread about Craig Ferguson and then diligently checking to see who favorited each the comments, hoping to find someone that might be one of Craig's writers or Craig himself, has failed. You guys are all the same boring mefites I've seen before. I really thought that talking about how good Craig is at hitting on women and calling him James Bond with a sense of humor would suck him in.
posted by painquale at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2009


Of course Craig was talking about that UserFriendly comic where the punchline is "I could be that funny too, with a laugh track like that."
posted by qvantamon at 7:34 PM on July 25, 2009


Gotta love Wendell's Oxnard reference. 'NARD CORE! La Colonia!!!
posted by ambient2 at 7:51 PM on July 25, 2009


Ferguson's best puppet/song intro (imo) is "Wonderful Night." Also awesome: CF does Edward Lear in response to the first White House poetry night.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:27 PM on July 25, 2009


God, I love Craig Ferguson.
posted by Eideteker at 8:44 PM on July 25, 2009


my brilliantly-executed trap (...) has failed.
that's because the CF people are writers and mefi costs $5. have you seen those writers guild contracts?
posted by krautland at 5:07 AM on July 26, 2009


Not for nothing, Craig's show is produced by Letterman's Worl Wide Pants production company. I think Dave is smart enough to let someone do their own thing.

I really like the way he does the monologue- classic enough to not be uncomfortable, unique enough to not be Jay Leno. And the fact that he openly mugs for the camera, and makes it work.

I was hooked when he had the puppet sing "Fire".

Of course Craig was talking about that UserFriendly comic where the punchline is "I could be that funny too, with a laugh track like that."

I believe that's a Milton Berle joke that they repossesed.
posted by gjc at 7:44 AM on July 26, 2009


It’s a bit of a shame that my introduction to him was via Dan Akroyd’s impersonation of him on SNL but Tom Snyder (the original host the Late Late show in 1995, and whose time slot Letterman took over when the Tomorrow show was cancelled in 1982) was the best interviewer of everyone and the most at ease with women (flirty?, charming?) of any interviewer I’ve ever seen. Dave may not have the interviewing skill himself, but he could identify who did.
Fact checking this post I also learned that Tom Snyder’s version of the Late Late Show was also simulcast over CBS radio for most of its duration which tells me something about the quality of the content. Watching, or rather giving people like Larry King and Charlie Rose 60 seconds to engage my interest and then clicking away really makes me miss my old insomniac pal (you were supposed to be in bed and asleep at 11 in the old days) Tom.
I’m watching, or rewatching old interviews by Tom in the two hours since I started this post and what’s dawned on me about his interviews as they contrast to pretty much everyone is that Tom talks about what the interviewee wants to talk about rather than cycling through a list of entertainment media talking point questions.
Fuck I better hang it up here before my Tom Snyder fanboy / obit derail further erupts.
posted by vapidave at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


painquale, Craig just seems to really enjoy friendly teasing and open mock provocation. Everyone's in on the joke, so everyone enjoys themselves. Pretty much status quo for Craig, but tends impress some people as amorously flirtatious. People aren't used to that level of intimacy when they're not properly friends. He's just a cheeky monkey.

See him here with his 'little sister' Lynn: [1] [2]
posted by zennie at 10:37 AM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read some jokey paper a while back that offered a conceptual analysis (a definition) of flirting. The end result involved something like it being in the essence of flirting that the flirter is trying to encourage sexual activity. This criterion is needed in order to explain why bad, clumsy flirting should still be considered flirting. But I thought, that's silly, you can flirt to get ahead or flirt for fun or flirt for any number of reasons that you don't expect will end in sex. Really, the whole project of trying to give an analysis of flirting (or pretty much any other concept) is bunk. We have a good idea of what the stereotype of flirtation looks like, and as long as something doesn't deviate too for from that stereotype, it's flirting. I think Craig's interviews are pretty comfortably within the boundary. "Teasing and mock provocation" with a bit of a sexual undercurrent... how is that not flirting?

But while I don't think you can give a definition of 'flirtation' that's descriptively adequate, there might be political, normative grounds for believing that we should think of flirting in one way or another. And yeah, there might be political grounds for stipulating that Craig's actions as non-flirtatious. But it's not obvious to me; I can see arguments for either side. I think I'd prefer to think that people flirt widely and all the time, and strip the term of any seriousness rather than save it for serious occasions. But it's also probably pragmatically better for me personally not to choose to apply the term widely like this. I've bantered about this topic in the past, and people will say things like, "[if something] tends impress some people as amorously flirtatious [it's because they] aren't used to that level of intimacy," and I'm always like, "... hey."
posted by painquale at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


vapidave: sounds like you have a FPP on Tom Snyder brewing. ;)
posted by hippybear at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2009


"Teasing and mock provocation" with a bit of a sexual undercurrent... how is that not flirting?

To be sure, Craig's habitual behavior could be aptly described as 'flirting,' but the term has connotations that certainly do not always fit. S'why I added 'amorous' in there with 'flirtation,' in reference to the sexual undercurrents people may perceive. Meanwhile, I was not the one who added 'a bit of a sexual undercurrent' to 'teasing and mock provocation.'

If you're not convinced that people often see sexual undertones simply because they misread intimacy, you may want to reconsider the possibility. People very frequently mistake friendly playfulness for quite another type of playfulness. As in, 'no, Mr. Vehicle Emissions Attendant, my big toothy smile and cheery mood in regard to vehicle maintenance were not signals for you to invite me back to your place.' And as in, 'no, random colleagues, my close conversation with that professor was not a sign of something untoward going on, as we were in a deep discussion about his eight-year-old's clever poem about snowflakes, and the room was noisy.'

People see what they see.
posted by zennie at 4:08 PM on July 26, 2009


In the Paris Hilton interview, she says she's 21.

So how does that work, eh? How is it that she can make boatloads of entertainment income by being a minor when it comes to legal partying? Are her events non-alcoholic? I don't think so.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:43 PM on July 26, 2009


If you're not convinced that people often see sexual undertones simply because they misread intimacy [...]

Well, that's obviously true, I'm not gonna contest that or your examples. Your comment's a good argument for why we might want to restrict use of the term in a certain way. It gives the sorts of considerations I was alluding to when I said "there might be political grounds for stipulating that Craig's actions [count] as non-flirtatious". But that's a debate over linguistic norms and how we should apply the term 'flirting', not over whether intimacy is being misread. That being said:

I was not the one who added 'a bit of a sexual undercurrent' to 'teasing and mock provocation.'

I thought it was a given that all these late night interviews had a bit of a sexual undercurrent. People seemed to be agreeing on it earlier. Maybe there is a genuinely non-linguistic debate here. You don't think there's a bit of a sexual undercurrent to his interviews?
posted by painquale at 6:03 PM on July 26, 2009


Yeah, uh, I wasn't having a purely linguistic debate, to my knowledge.

The kids are presumably not watching, so late night TV is a bit more free to toss about the wink-winks and the nudge-nudges, but that doesn't mean everything is laced with innuendo.

This conversation is starting to remind me of many, many conversations with a Mormon mom friend, who would talk to me about whether things 'crossed the line' on certain message boards. No, love, your Christmas ornament avatar is not suggestive, and doesn't become so just because people are talking about the singer's spectacular body in the same thread where you're talking about the singer's beautiful new Christmas song.
posted by zennie at 6:37 PM on July 26, 2009


but that doesn't mean everything is laced with innuendo

IYKWIM
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:44 PM on July 26, 2009


Say no more.
posted by zennie at 6:48 PM on July 26, 2009


I'm like a Mormon mom because I think there's sexual tension on late night talk shows.

vapidave, you've got me watching some old Tom Snyder interviews, and you're right, he is good. I only vaguely remember him; I'm wondering what I missed out on. I fully support you making an FPP!
posted by painquale at 7:52 PM on July 26, 2009


painquale: I'm not really a fan of the dress-up skits that he does (Aquaman, bleh) other than the musical intros, but I do like that he always loses it in the middle of them.

I'm not a huge fan of the skits, but the one where he was playing the Murder, She Wrote woman and Mary Steenburgen came on as a male cop (complete with mustache) was one of the greatest things ever on television. I'm at work now so I can't go looking for the video, but if anyone else wants to link it I'll gladly take the credit.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:09 AM on July 27, 2009




I remember that Murder She Wrote skit! I don't watch Craig live that often, but I did see that one. I can't watch the Youtube right now, but IIRC, it was funny for the same reason that Ewan MacGregor skit was funny; he couldn't hold it together during the skit and his losing it was infectious. Craig's skits work best when they don't work at all.
posted by painquale at 9:28 AM on July 27, 2009


I love the one with Molina, "Has there been a case of homicide?"
posted by nomisxid at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2009


I also for some reason never get tired of Craig's 'confusion' about which one is Angela Lansbury and which one is Paul McCartney.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:02 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Craig described where he was living in the East Village, during his years lost in an alcoholic fog. Turns out it was in the apartment right next door to my girlfriend at the time. So I have to like him.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:06 PM on July 28, 2009


How funny that Eschatfische and I were in the audience, accused of being an audience machine, as well. And yes, we had a warm up comedians (named Chunky D) threatening us if we didn't crack up at everything ;)

Too bad he didn't name check MeFi. We would have "wooed".
posted by Gucky at 6:00 PM on July 28, 2009


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