Craig Ferguson (born 17 May 1962) is a Scottish-born American television host, stand-up comedian, writer, actor, director, author, producer and voice artist. Ferguson was the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson an Emmy Award-nominated, Peabody Award-winning late night talk show that aired on CBS from January 2005 to December 2014. Additionally, Ferguson hosted the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game from 2014-2017. In 2021, he began hosting the ABC-TV primetime game show The Hustler.
After starting his career in Britain with music, comedy and theatre, Ferguson moved to the United States where he found success in the role of Nigel Wick on The Drew Carey Show. Ferguson has written and starred in three films, directing one of them. Ferguson has also written two books: Between the Bridge and the River, a novel, and American on Purpose, a memoir.
Early Life and Education
Ferguson was born in Stobhill Hospital, in the Springburg district of Glasgow, Scotland, to Robert and Janet Ferguson on 17 May 1962 and raised by nearby Cumbernauld growing up "chubby and bullied". Ferguson was raised Scottish Presbyterian When he was six months old, he and his family moved from their Springburg apartment to a council house in Cumberland. They lived there as Glasgow was re-housing many people following damage to the city from World War II. Ferguson attended Murifeld Primary School and Cumberland High School. At age sixteen, Ferguson dropped out of Cumberland High School and began an apprenticeship to be an electronics technician at a local factory of American company Burroughs Corporation.
His first was United States was as a teenager to visit an uncle who lived in Long Island near New York. Where he moved to New York City in 1983, he worked in construction in Harlem. Ferguson later became a bouncer at the nightclub Save the Robots.
Ferguson's experience in entertainment began as a drummer in a rock band called Exposure. Ferguson then later joined a punk band called The B*tards from Hell. The band later renamed "Dreamboys" and fronted by vocalist Peter Capaldi performed regularly in Glasgow from 1980 to 1982. Ferguson credits Capaldi for inspiring him to do comedy.
After a nerve-wracking first appearance, Ferguson decided to create a character that was a "parody of all the uber-patriotic native folk singers who seemed to infect every public performance in Scotland" the character "Bing Hitler" (actually coined by Capaldi as Ferguson started under the name "Nico Fulton" but admittedly later stole the name for his "own nefarious ends") premiered in Glasgow and subsequently became a hit at the 1986 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A recording of his stage act as Bing Hitler was made at Glasgow's Tron Theatre and released in the 1980s; a Bing Hitler monologue ("A Lecture for Burns Nights") appeared on the compilation cassette Honey at the Core.
After enjoying success at Edingburgh Festival, Ferguson appeared on television in Red Dwarf STV's Hogmanay Show and the 1993 One Foot in the Grave Christmas special One Foot in the Algarve. In 1990 a pilot was broadcast The Craig Ferguson Show a one-off comedy pilot for Granada Television which co-starred Paul Whitehouse and Helen Atkinson-Wood. This was followed by Ferguson's own 1992 show 2000 Not Out. In 1993, Ferguson presented a series of Scottish archaeology for Scottish Television entitled Dirt Detective. Ferguson travelled throughout the country examining archaeological history including Skara Brae and Paisley Abbey.
Ferguson has also found success in musical theatre. Beginning in 1991, he appeared on stage as Brad Majors in the London productions of The Rocky Horror Show alongside Anthony Head who was playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter at the time. In 1994, Ferguson played Father Maclean in the highly controversial production of Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom at the Union Chapel in London. the same year, Ferguson appeared again at the Edinburgh Fringe as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple opposite Gerard Kelly as Felix and Kate Anthony as Gewndolin Pidgeon who is now much better known as Aunty Pam in Coronation Street the play which was relocated to 1990s Glasgow, later toured Scotland.
After cancellation of his show The Ferguson Theory, Ferguson moved to Los Angeles in 1994. His first U.S. role was as baker Long McDonough on the short-lived 1995-96 ABC sitcom Maybe This Time which stared Betty White and Marie Osmond.
His breakthrough in the U.S. came when he was cast on The Drew Carey Show as the title character's boss Mr. Wick, a role that he played from 1996 until 2003. Ferguson played the role of an over-the-top posh English accent "to make up for generations of English actors doing crap Scottish accents" in his comedy special "A Wee Bit O' Revolution", he specifically identified James Doohan's portrayal of Montgomery Scott from Star Trek as the foundation of his "revenge". (At the end of one episode, though, Ferguson broke the fourth wall and began talking to the audience at home in his regular Scottish accent) His character was memorable for his unique methods of laying employees off, almost always "firing Johnson", the most common last name of the to-be-fired workers. Even after leaving the show in 2003, Ferguson remained a recurring character on the series for the last two seasons and was part of the two-part series finale in 2004.
During production of The Drew Carey Show, Ferguson devoted his off-time as a cast member to writing, working in his trailer on set in between shooting his scenes. Ferguson wrote and starred in three films: The Big Tease, Saving Grace and I'll Be There which he also directed and for which he won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Aspen, Dallas and Valencia film festivals. Ferguson was named Best New Director at the Napa Valley Film Festival. These were among other scripts that," ...in the great tradition of the movie business, about a half a dozen that I got paid a fortune but never got made".
Ferguson's other acting credits in films include: Niagra Motel, Lenny the Wonder Dog, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Chain of Fools, Born Romantic, The Ugly Truth, Kick-Ass and as a voice-over actor in How to Train Your Dragon, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Brave and Winnie the Pooh.
Ferguson has been touring the Unite States and Canada with a stand-up comedy show since the late 2000s, including a performance at Carnegie Hall on 23 October 2010 and a performance at Radio City Music Hall on 6 October 2012. Ferguson has performed two stand-up television specials on Comedy Central both released on DVD: A Wee Bit O' Revolution in 2009 and Does This Need to be Said? in 2011. His third comedy special I'm Here to Help was released on Netfilx in 2013 garnering positive reviews on 4 out of 5 and peeking at number 6 on Billboard top comedy albums. It also received a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for Best Comedy Album.
Ferguson was awarded the Peter Ustinov Comedy Award by the Banff World Media Festival on 11 June 2013.
The Late Late Show
In December 2004, It was announced that Ferguson would be successor to Craig Kilborn on CBS' The Late Late Show. His first show as the regular show aired on 3 January 2005. By May 2008, Ben Alba, an American television historian and an authority on U.S. talk shows said Ferguson "has already made his mark, taking the TV monologue to new levels with an underlying story. But he is just only starting... He is making up his own rules; it's the immigrant experience."
The show is unique in that it has no "human" sidekicks such as Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or Conan O'Brien's Andy Richter. Ferguson has a remotely operated skeleton named Geoff Peterson and two silent performers in a horse costume. Ferguson's monologues are conducted within a few feet of the camera versus the long distance that Johnny Carson kept from the camera and audience. These props are the modern offspring of the legendary Soupy Sales with his children's show being uncannily similar although not nearly as consistent as Ferguson's polished and intuitive delivery.
The Late Late Show averaged 2.0 million viewers in its 2007 season, compared with 2.5 million for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. In April 2008, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson beat Late Night with Conan O'Brien for weekly ratings (1.88 million to 1.77 million) for the first time since the two shows went head-to-head with their respective hosts.
By the end of 2009, Craig Ferguson topped Jimmy Fallon in the ratings with Ferguson getting a 1.8 rating/6 share and Fallon receiving a 1.6 rating/6 share. By 2014, Ferguson's ratings had faltered, trailing those of Late Night with Seth Meyers with a average of 1.35 million viewers versus 2.02 million.
On 28 April 2014, Ferguson announced that he will be leaving The Late Late Show by the end of 2014. Ferguson's contract was set to expire in June 2014, but a six-month extension was agreed in order to provide a more graceful exit and give CBS more time to find a replacement host. He will reportedly receive US$5 million as part of his contract because he was not selected as the replacement for Letterman's Late Show. Ferguson made the decision prior to Letterman's announcement but agreed to delay making his own decision public until the reaction to Letterman's decision has died down. CBS Entertainment Chair Nina Tassler said following the announcement, 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", CBS intends to continue the franchise with James Corden as the new host.
Television and appearances
Ferguson has made guest appearances on: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Rachael Ray, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Howard Stern Show, The Daily Show, The View, Loveline, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Soup, The Talk, The Price is Right, Kevin Pollak's Chat Show and The Dennis Miller Show. Ferguson also co-hosted Live with Regis & Kelly with Kelly Ripa and was a guest host on the April Fools' Day episode of The Price is Right in 2014.
In 2009, Ferguson made a cameo live-action appearance in the episode "We Love You, Conrad" on Family Guy. Ferguson hosted the 32nd annual People Choice Awards on 10 January 2006. TV Guide magazine printed a "Cheers" (Cheers and Jeers section) for appearing on his how in the same evening. From 2007 until 2010, Ferguson hosted the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on 4 July, broadcast nationally on CBS. Ferguson was the featured entertainer at the 26 April 2008 White House Correspondents' Association dinner at Washington D.C.
Ferguson co-presented the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama with Brooke Shields in 2008.
Ferguson has done voice over work in cartoons, including being the voice of Barry's evil alter-ego in the "With Friends Like Steve's" episode of American Dad!, in Freakazoid! as Roddy MacStew, Freakazoid's mentor and on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command as the robot NOS-4-A2. Ferguson was also the voice of Susan the boil on Futurama which was a parody of Scottish singer Susan Boyle. He makes stand-up appearances in Las Vegas and New York City. He headlined in the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal and in October 2008 Ferguson taped his stand-up show in Boston for a Comedy Central special entitled A Wee Bit o' Revolution which aired on 22 March 2009.
British television comedy-drama Doc Martin was based on a character from Ferguson's film Saving Grace with Ferguson getting writing credits for twelve episodes. On 6 November 2009, Ferguson appeared as himself in a SpongeBob Squarepants special entitled SpongeBob's Truth or Square. Ferguson hosted Discover Channel's 23rd season of Shark Week in 2010. Ferguson has also briefly appeared in Toby Keith's music video Red Solo Cup on 10 October 2011.
In September 2013, Ferguson guest-starred on the season finale of Hot in Cleveland as a priest/tabloid journalist who turns out to be the father of Joy's (played by Jane Leeves) son. The show also reunited him with former co-host and frequent Late Late Show guest Betty White. Ferguson will reprise the role for seven episodes when the show returns in March 2014.
In October 2013, It was announced that Ferguson would host the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game, produced by Coquette Productions, beginning in Late 2014. Ferguson's involvement in the project dates back to 2011, when it was originally pitched and piloted as a primetime series for CBS. As of April 2014, the series has an initial order of 180 episodes. The syndicated series began airing on 22 September 2014.
Ferguson's novel Between the Bridge and the River was published on 10 April 2006. Ferguson appeared at the Los Angeles Festival of Books as well as other author literary events. "This book could scare them", he said " The sex, the violence, the dream sequences and iconoclasm. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with that. I understand that. It was very uncomfortable to write some of it. the novel is dedicated to his elder son, Milo and his grandfather Adam. Ferguson revealed in an interview that he is writing a sequel to the book, entitled The Sphynx of Mississippi. Ferguson also stated in a 2006 interview with David Letterman that he intends the book to be the first in a trilogy.
Ferguson signed a deal with HarperCollins to publish his memoirs. The book, entitled American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, focuses on "how and why [he] became an American" and covers his years as a punk rocker, dancer, bouncer and construction worker as well as his rise of his career in Hollywood as an actor and comic. It went on sale 22 September 2009 un the United States. On 1 December 2010, the audiobook version was nominated for a Best Spoken Word Album Grammy.
In July 2009, Jackie Collins was a guest on The Late Late Show to promote her new book Married Lovers. Collins said that a character in her book, Don Verona, was based on Ferguson because she was such a fan of him and his show.
Ferguson is a fan of Scottish Football team Patrick Thistle F.C. as well as the British television show Doctor Who. Ferguson has five tattoos which include the Join, or Die political cartoon on his right forearm; a Ferguson family crest with a Latin mottos Dulcius ex asperis (Sweeter out of [or from] difficulty) on his upper arm in honour (honor) of his father, and a Celtic Cross with the Ingram clan motto Magnanimus esto (Be great of mind) on his upper left arm in honour (honor) of his mother. Ferguson has often stated that he has his Join, or Die tattoo to signal his patriotism.
Ferguson holds an FAA private pilot license issued 31 July 2009. Ferguson announced on 8 April 2011 broadcast that he is pursuing an instrument rating.
In an episode of The Late Late Show that aired 8 December 2008, a somber Ferguson talked about his mother, Janet (3 August 1933 - 1 December 2008). He ended the program by playing her favourite (favorite) song "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M. Ferguson's eulogized his father on-air on 30 January 2006.
Ferguson has two sisters (one older and one younger) and one older brother. His eldest sister's name is Janice and his brother's name is Scott. His younger sister, Lynn Ferguson Tweddle, is also a successful comedienne, presenter and actress perhaps most widely known as the voice of Mac in the 200 stop-motion animation film Chicken Run. She was a writer on The Late Late Show until July 2011.
Ferguson has married three times and divorced twice as a result of what he describes as "relationship issues". Ferguson's first marriage was to Anne Hogarth from 1983 to 1986 during which time they lived in New York. His second marriage was Sascha Corwin (founder and proprietor of Los Angeles' SpySchool) with whom he has one son, Milo Hamish Ferguson (born in 2001) He and Corwin share custody with Milo and live near each other in Los Angeles. On 21 December 2008, Ferguson married art dealer Megan Wallace-Cunningham in a private ceremony on her family's farm in Chester, Vermont, Ferguson announced 14 July 2010 on Twitter that they were expecting a child. He wrote: "Holy Crackers! Mrs F is pregnant. How did that happen? ...Oh yeah I know now. Another Ferguson arrived in 2011. The world trembles." The child, a boy named Liam James was born on 31 January 2011.
Ferguson is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober since 18 February 1992. Ferguson said he has considered committing suicide on Christmas Day 1991, but when offered a glass of sherry by a friend for celebrating the holiday, he was distracted from jumping off Tower Bridge in London as he has planned.
During 2007, Ferguson who at the time held only British citizenship, used The Late Late Show as a forum for seeking honorary citizenship from every state in the U.S. He has received honorary citizenship in: Nebraska, Arkansas, Virginia, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Indiana and was "commissioned" as an admiral in the tongue-in-cheek Nebraska Navy. Governors Jon Corzine (New Jersey), John Hoeven (North Dakota), Mark Sanford (South Carolina), Mike Rounds (South Dakota), Rick Perry (Texas), Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Jim Gibbons (Nevada) sent letters to him an honorary citizen of their respective states. Ferguson received similar honours (honors) from various towns and cities including: Ozark, Arkansas, Hazard, Kentucky and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Ferguson became an American citizen on 1 February 2008 and broadcast the taking of his citizenship test as well as swearing in on The Late Late Show.
- The Price is Right (April Fools Host/2014)
- Celebrity Name Game (2014-2017)
- The Hustler (2021-present)