A late-night television show on CBS, directly following David Letterman's Late Show. Previous hosts include Tom Snyder (1995-98) and Craig Kilborn (1999-2004). The current host is Craig Ferguson (2005-present), who won a 2009 Peabody Award for Excellence in Electronic Media for the episode A Night with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.Not to be confused with the longest-running chat show of all time, which is made and broadcast in Ireland on RTE.
Tropes associated with Tom Snyder's run:
Broadcast Live: In Eastern and Central time zones; also simulcast on CBS radio so listeners could call in.
Catch Phrase: "...so fire up the colortinis and watch the pictures as they fly through the air."
When the show was simulcast on CBS Radio, "colortinis" was replaced by "simultinis".
Asexuality: A recurring skit featured Kilborn portraying "Sebastian, the Asexual Icon", whose entire gimmick is a complete disdain for/obliviousness to any form of sexual activity whatsoever, as well as a possible lack of (functioning) genitals. On a demonstration of the former:
Guest Host: After Kilborn left, several people rotated as guest hostsnote including Jason Alexander, Jeff Altman, Tom Arnold, Tom Caltabiano, Drew Carey, Adam Carolla, Tom Dreesen, David Duchovny, Jim Gaffigan, Ana Gasteyer, Late Late Show writer Michael Gibbons, David Alan Grier, Lisa Joyner, Donal Logue, Rosie Perez, Ahmad Rashad, Jim Rome, Sara Rue, Bob Saget, and Aisha Tyler. The guests were whittled down to four finalists — D. L. Hughley, Damien Fahey, Michael Ian Black, and of course, Craig Ferguson — who hosted one week each.
Mythology Gag: Kilborn also had the segments "5 Questions" and "A Moment For Us", which he had originated on The Daily Show. He brought his "5 Questions" segment to his short-lived weeknight show.
Running Gag: Dick Vermeil's teary Super Bowl victory speech, the PG&E rapping grandmother.
Audience Participation: The show's cold open frequently involves selected members of the audience standing facing the camera. Craig circles them while questioning them, initially in the manner of an aggressive trial lawyer.
Author Avatar: Craig often uses the puppets as an outlet for thoughts and opinions that he might get in trouble for expressing in person. Sid The Cussing Bunny especially has become a thinly-disguised alter-ego who even has some of the same vocal and physical mannerisms. Sid had a memorable rant about the CBS censors in which he amusingly kept slipping into first-person:
Sid: And I was like "well 'ow come Geoff Peterson can do it but I can't do--I mean, Craig Ferguson can't do it?"
Bait-and-Switch Comparison: "You've got A and B. One is (list of insulting characteristics that sound like they describe A), and the other one is A." Craig is the king of this trope, able to pull it off episodely without even trying.
Subverted once, when on his wedding anniversary (and Joseph Stalin's birthday) he started comparing his wife to Stalin, and then he caught himself and stopped.
Subverted on the shared birthday of Elvis Presley and David Bowie "Elvis and David Bowie are very different though, one of them was a music legend who was whacked out on drugs and wore sparkly jumpsuits... actually, they are pretty similar if you think about it."
Beat: Craig enjoys ending his monologue and guest interviews with an awkward pause.
"Paid hobos" seems to be his favorite pseudo-slur for the studio audience.
Or full of people who were turned down to get into The Price Is Right. (His sidekick Geoff Petersen even wears a name tag taken from the game show).
Blatant Lies: Craig likes to use these in his comedy. "My next guest appears on the show Doctor Who. I've never seen it." Also, when his Doctor Who cold open was leaked to the internet: "He was horrified."
Broadcast Live: Not. But Craig often jokingly implies that it is. (This may also be allusion to when Tom Synder hosted the show, when it was broadcast live on the East Coast. Notably, a picture of Synder is on the mantle above the fake fireplace on his set.)
Craig: And I'll be watching the American Idol final tonight...or I already did because we're live. Congratulations, (covers mouth with hand and in a slightly deeper voice) winner!
In early 2011, a change was made so that the opening segment of the show as the viewers see it is taped following the monologue. Sometimes this leads to a skip in continuity, where A) something that happens in the opening segment isn't referred to at all during the monologue but then is brought up again during the "Check the Tweets" segment or B) something the home viewers haven't seen happen yet is brought up in the opening segment.
Butt Monkeys: The professional warm-up comedian, the producer, and Aqualad.
After he crashed Craig's car the production assistant Bridger has become this.
Camera Abuse: Craig slaps the side of the camera after coming out for his monologue. Only twice (May 8, 2009 and March 7, 2011) has it backfired, with the former causing a piece of glass to fall out, shattering on the floor.
Captain Ersatz: When Craig discovered that the French talk show Ce Soir Avec Arthur had plagiarized his intro, he ended up inviting its host Arthur to appear as a guest (and even made an appearance to deliver the monologue on "his" show, much to Craig's dismay).
The two seem to be friends now, as seen by their trip to Paris.
Lately, after Craig says something sexual, "There goes my penis!"
The Check the Tweets animations always include the phrase "Ass Möde".
"What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?"
Characterization Marches On: Geoff Peterson started off with a high pitched, robotic, Cary Grant-ish voice. Later, he received an "upgrade" and became the wisecracking effeminate robot with a low voice we know today. Beginning in late May 2011, Geoff is usually voiced live by Josh Robert Thompson instead of the original canned tidbits.
When Thompson was out of the country for two weeks in November 2011, several celebrities filled in as Geoff's voice. One of them, Tom Lennon, created a whole new character for the robot - Khloe Banderas, Antonio's lesser-known sibling. Lennon/"Khloe" has filled in for Thompson a few times since then.
Crossover: The "cold open" to an episode featuring the cast of The Big Bang Theory as guests featured Craig applying to be a roommate in the show. He fails.
Cute Kitten: The closing segment of each show, "What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?" ("¿Qué aprendimos en el programa, Señor Craig?" or "Qu'est-ce que nous avons apris ce soir, Craig?") is introduced by a graphic of a kitty.
Also Nadine (voiced by Lauren Graham), Wavy Rancheros' girlfriend.
A Date with Rosie Palms: During an interview, Bones star Emily Deschanel suggested that Geoff Peterson make an appearance on the show. When he responded a little over-enthusiastically ("SPROING!"), she added "Ours don't masturbate." To which Craig replied "For legal reasons, neither does he."
Digging Yourself Deeper: Poor Alex Kingston. Had she simply said "Yes, I like rabbits", no one would've been the wiser. Instead, she spends five minutes trying to change the subject while Craig's trying to figure out what "rabbit" she's talking about.
Evolving Credits: In 2013 a revised opening sequence debuted that replaced shots of Craig and his hand puppets (who hadn't been featured on the show in a while) with shots of Geoff Peterson and Secretariat.
Executive Meddling: A glaring example. In his Doctor Who tribute episode on November 16, 2010 (his main guest was Matt Smith), Craig planned a Cold Opening dance number where he would sing his own lyrics to the Doctor Who theme music while his back-up players and puppets dance around (one, Michael Clarke Duncan, a big African-American guy, even sporting a Tom Baker scarf). Five minutes before airtime, CBS received word that they couldn't use the theme music because they hadn't been able to clear the rights from the publishers. Here's the original cold opening, complete with Matt Smith cameo at the end... and here's the open they ended up using. It is sometimes said The BBC was responsible for this, but this is not true, as the rights to the theme music are held by a publisher, not the BBC (a similar licensing issue nearly resulted in the 1996 TV movie having to replace the theme music).
Freudian Slip: "Tonight I might say sexy words penis. I could even boobies by accident. Oh my vagina!"
Fun with Acronyms: One of the games Craig and Geoff like to play is making up meanings for CBS note (for the record, it's "Columbia Broadcasting System", although the full name hasn't been used since the 1970s).
January 6, 2011: His interview withAlex Kingston started out with some innocent laughter about her rabbit ring, after which he pulled out Sid the Cussing Bunny. The conversation, however, took a turn into Double Entendre territory when they started talking about how she loved...well..."rabbits". (For the record, "rabbit" specifically refers to the Rampant Rabbit, a brand-name vibrator from UK sex shop chain Ann Summers. In the UK, they're famous for their TV commercials, including a Christmas ad showing several women showing their "O-faces" set to the gently sung lyrics of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".
Craig: Take a long look. Keep looking. Imagine how much fun the censor is having now. Imagine the censor thinking "Oh (censored), I should have put a time limit on this." Keep looking at the haggis. Try to think of a man's penis as you look at the haggis!
Also: "Mouth Organ" (i.e., harmonica), and as of late "Touch My Glittery Ball" and Craig's rusty trombone.
Actual sex slang is censored, so random phrases are implied to be sexual acts.
Directly addressed during one episode. When Craig asked the Scottish Karen Gillan if she could speak Gaelic, she stated that she couldn't, but did know one song in Gaelic, and proceeded to sing it. Afterward, he said that because of Standards and Practices, he asked what specifically she said. Karen said she had no idea (she could sing in Gaelic, just not understand it.) Craig turned to the camera and rather smugly said, "Your move, censors."
Search for any interviews with guest Robin Williams (the GCPTR incarnate). Even Craig gets a little bit uncomfortable getting crap past the radar with Robin.
Gratuitous German: "FlügenWeb, Späcecode, Twit Zöne, Ass Möde...Check ze Tweets..."note ("Und also e-mails!")
Whenever Craig reads a Tweet or e-mail from a person living in a German-speaking country, he insists on reading it in a faux German accent.
A running gag through the 2013 season had Ferguson ringing a concierge's bell to force he and Geoff into speaking into different accents. On the first ring [in faux German accent ]: "One ring, we speak German. Two rings -" the the second ring: [a pause, then still in the faux German accent ] "Still German."
Gratuitous Spanish: "Craig's Spanish Word Of The Day". His goal was to do the final show of 2010 entirely in Spanish, until he realized learning Spanish is...well, hard. The segments were subsequently replaced by such features as "Gardening Tips with Willie Nelson", "Style Tips with Tim Gunn", and "Summer Livin' with Sean Connery".
Improv: A lot of the moments on the show are not scripted, and as such, it's common to see Craig (or even Geoff's voice actor) crack up laughing at something that was done or said, to the point sometimes where Craig can't continue with the skit.
Craig has also done a few serious and unscripted monologues (many times at the opening of the show) when events in the news have bothered him, or when someone in his family passed away. Sadly, these cold opens have occurred more and more often, as in after the Newtown massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, and when his friend Michael Clarke Duncan passed away. Usually, he'll also forgo the "It's a great day for America" tag in the opening monologue as well, if he even decides to tape an monologue at all.
I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Craig often invites guests with whom he used to run around with in his pre-sobriety days. And he doesn't tend to shy away from talking about having a crush on a guest in his younger days (like when interviewed author Helen Fielding) or inferring having a relationship with a guest before he was married, like he seemed to when interviewing actress Oliva Williams, with whom he co-starred with in the 2000 film Pure Romantic.
British comedienne Hattie Hayridge appeared in a guest slot, when she turned up in the studio audience and was spotted by Craig, who then invited her onto the show. As Ferguson was a fixture of the stand-up circuit in the UK before he decided to pursue acting in the US, he obviously knows many British comedic actors from those days. Hayridge is probably best known to US audiences as the second Holly on Red Dwarf, on which Craig once had a guest role (he actually appeared on the show a few years before Hayridge joined the cast).
Ms. Fanservice: Beth the (fake) CBS censor, played by actress Dana DeLorenzo, during a brief tenure on the show.
He'll occasionally have a pair of his female makeup artists, who are both very attractive and usually are in very flattering costumes, come out and dance, usually before the introduction of the second guest.
Multiple Choice Past: Geoff tells many mutually-exclusive stories about how he died and became skeletal.
On the 7th Anniversary episode, Craig showed a fake clip of his very first monologue, which retconned Geoff as his original flesh-and-blood sidekick (with a strong resemblance to Josh Robert Thompson) who went on an ill-fated skydiving trip.
MythBusters: Craig and the Mythbusters team seem to have something going on, since they created a robot skeleton sidekick for him named Geoff Peterson.
No Budget: Craig has mentioned in several interviews that he can't do all the comedy bits he wants because the show's budget is extremely limited. Of course, being Craig he constantly picks on the minuscule budget during the show.
The only reason the show has multiple puppets is because they bought one and the producer was so happy they were on TV they sent several others.
He also points to the lack of budget as to why he doesn't have a house band, like other late-night shows. However, a running gag started in late 2013 promotes the new house band 'Alfredo Sauce and The Shy Fellas', which is really Thompson doing voices mixed with stock-music big-band fanfares, with the idea the band is behind the stage curtain that the show uses for the occasional musical guest or standup act, and doesn't want to be seen.
The Other Darrin: Impersonator Josh Robert Thompson took over the role of Geoff from Craig after the character's first week on the show.
The Other Marty: Thompson himself was replaced from November 7-21, 2011 due to unavailability. Many well known actors and personalities like Alfred Molina, Larry King, and Thomas Lennon (Who turned Geoff into Khloe Banderas) were used in his place. Lennon again replaced Thompson between November 28-30, 2011.
Precious Puppies: The time that Craig brought his French bulldog, Cabbage, on the show (April 13, 2009). He actually seemed pretty dismayed at the audience's reaction.
Craig: Why did you laugh when the dog came on, and then when I came on, you went "Awwww...."?
Priceless Ming Vases: Supposedly loaned to Craig from the Getty Museum for the first show of 2011, and destroyed by Secretariat during the Tweetmail segment.
Rearrange the Song: Not long after it was introduced, the theme song was re-done a little and had a line added ("You can always sleep through work tomorrow").
Replacement Flat Character: Craig has said on the air more than once that the purpose of having Geoff Peterson on the show is to make him seem less creepy and weird by comparison, even invoking original Trope NamerNiles Crane as a precedent.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played with; Wavy Rancheros is pretty friendly and likes to wave, but rarely gets through a segment without talking about eating someone.
The Rival: Ferguson sometimes jokingly alludes to the competition with his counterparts at ABC (Jimmy Kimmel) and NBC (Jimmy Fallon, and before that Conan O'Brien), and occasionally interacts with them by proxy. Ferguson and Fallon have waved at each other with giant Mickey Mouse hands, and once sent each other Christmas gifts (a pair of kittens for Jimmy, a garish Christmas sweater for Craig) and displayed them on their respective shows.
Craig often self-mockingly refers to himself as "the Scottish Conan guy".
Whenever Kristen Bell is on the show, the "rivalry" between her and Geoff Peterson is renewed. She blames him for stealing her chance at being co-host, and the two have no problem hurling insults at each other whenever she's a guest.note It's played for laughs, obviously.
Robot Buddy: Geoff is thorough aversion of this, since he's not very functional (he can only move his head and arms) and he frequently mocks and bickers with Craig.
Whenever Craig asks for a picture of Cher, he gets one of Marilyn Manson.
Whenever Craig asks for a picture of Kim Jong Il, "That is one angry lesbian."
Whenever he mentions a network besides CBS he spits, but if said network airs the show of a guest he adds "but the show's good!"
Commenting on the nature of the audience's applause at the beginning of almost every show, usually about how it was coerced out of them by a warm-up comedian with candy.
Insisting that the show is done live when it quite obviously is not.
Secretariat, although he's added that he won't stop it until people stop sending him tweets telling him to stop it.
Secretariat eventually became a full sidekick.
Craig and his ferrets. Occasionally, the camera will linger on the photograph for far too long.
Craig asking Geoff if he's ever visited a random location, and Geoff responding that he has a place there, note (where he likes to throw beads at people, take his clothes off, and go swimming) and Craig should come by sometime.
Early in the show's run, Craig would make repeated jokes about Bob Barker being a vampire.
Craig brings up "Fashion!!!" and a few seconds of generic dance music plays. It sounds suspiciously like "Get Ready For This" by 2 Unlimited.
The cartoonish graphics on the monologue, usually celebrating incredibly trivial holidays. Each one explodes after a few seconds for no reason.
Jerry from Room Service, who calls Craig instead of the other way around. Started out as a skit which followed the sequence with the bells mentioned above (One bell, speak German; two bells, still German; three bells, Dracula; four bells, Italian Bill Clinton; five bells, room service).
Alfredo Sauce and the Shy Fellas, who are too shy to come out from behind the curtain.
Betty White "needed some cash; she lost it on (insert any incident here)".
Michael Naidus is a racist. Explanation Michael Naidus is the show's producer. He informs Craig when a word or a gesture is going to be censored. Craig's standard response is that it's a Scottish word, and Naidus is censoring it because he's a racist.
Self-Deprecation: Craig employs this a lot, with regard to himself as well as the show in general.
Shout-Out: Many. Craig's anchorman schtick for "It's a great day for America, everybody" had him adjusting a dial which would briefly switch to Tijuana Taxi, then make a series of beeps before proceeding to deliver the "news" in a voice that usually was an impression of Walter Cronkite. note (The "beep" sound effects were typically used to open each CBS Evening News broadcast during Cronkite's tenure, making this even more likely to be an homage to him.)
Craig ran side-by-side his intro and the intro of a French talk show that's copied it. The host sings, plays drums, and ends up in a water fountain...same as Craig does. The logo even uses the same font as the Late Late Show graphic. The only difference is that the French show's intro didn't have any hand puppets and was shot from different angles.
Something Completely Different: For his 1,000th episode, Craig stayed off-camera and performed the whole show (including opening monologue, guest interviews, etc.) as Wavy.
On February 24, 2010, he did a show without the usual Studio Audience or comedy bits, and featuring only one guest (Stephen Fry). As Craig explained in the opening, it was intended as a sort of homage to Tom Snyder.
Occasionally, shows will feature one guest. In 2013 alone, both Stephen Fry and Robin Williams were the only guest. Considering the guests involved, this seems less of an error or due to a 2nd guest not showing up, but more by design. The Stephen Fry appearance in particular, as it was taped well in advance of its airdate.
Sound Effect Bleep: During the the teaser and the monologue, the censors pixilate Craig's mouth and mute the audio when he swears. When one of the puppets swears (i.e., Sid or Wavy Rancheros), there's a beep and sometimes pixilation over their mouths. During other segments of of the show, the censors place CG flags of other nations over the mouths of Craig, Geoff and the guests, accompanied by speeded-up audio of Craig saying a phrase supposedly associated with that country. These include;
Spanish flag: "Oh, did I swear four times already?" ¡AY CARAMBA! "That's five."
Take That: Against CBS, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, himself ("Take that... me.") — actually, pretty much anything and everything. He even does them against people he likes. "Take that... man who's been nothing but nice to me!"
For the closing credits of the last episode of Scotland week, The Imagineers (the Glasgow band who was the musical guest for all five shows) performed the full version of the theme.
The Teaser: The show opens with one of these every night. Sometimes takes the form of a mini-monologue from Craig, sometimes it's a backstage sketch with that night's guest, sometimes it's an all-singing, all-dancing musical lip-sync number.
Throwing Out The Script: Symbolising his free-wheeling interviewing style, Craig begins every interview by tearing up a set of palm cards that presumably contains his notes for the interview. Sometimes he says "We won't be needing these" for good measure.
Troll: Craig often taunts Geoff's inability to move more than 12 feet from an outlet, move his left arm or play the harmonica.
Twitter: Craig's on it, and has taken to answering viewer tweets along with their emails each night.
Originally, there were two separate stacks — yellow for tweets, white for emails. After two or three shows, it was changed to simply one stack with the tweets and emails randomly arranged within (although the tweets are identifiable by the picture of a random bird above the text).
UST: Played straight with many of the show's female guests. Some of the men, too. Especially if the guest opts for an awkward pause with sexual subtext to close out the interview.
Especially with Kristen Bell, who has such great chemistry with Ferguson she has appeared more times than any other guest and at one point lobbied to be hired as a full-time co-host (see above for who she accuses of "stealing" the spot from her). During a series of episodes shot in Paris, she did in fact serve in a co-host capacity, and the UST is referenced when the two actually have a "moment" (played for laughs) during one on-location sequence. In reality, the two are happily involved in other relationships; they just carry on as if they're involved.
He and James MacAvoy created a Vacuum of Scottish Charm.
Vacation Episode: A week in Paris in 2011, a week in Scotland in 2012 and a special episode in New Orleans that aired after the Super Bowl in 2013.