Series / The Late Late Show

A late-night television show on CBS, directly following Stephen Colbert's Late Show. Previous hosts include Tom Snyder (1995-98), Craig Kilborn (1999-2004), and Craig Ferguson (2005-14), who won a 2009 Peabody Award for Excellence in Electronic Media for the episode A Night with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The current host for the program is English actor-comedian James Corden (who you might remember from Gavin and Stacey, The Wrong Mans, and two episodes of Doctor Who).

Not to be confused with the longest-running chat show of all time, which is made and broadcast in Ireland on RTÉ.

Tropes associated with The Late Late Show include:

    open/close all folders 

    Tom Snyder's run 

    Craig Kilborn's run 
  • 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:
    Sebastian: Whenever I get the urge to...touch it...I mace myself.
  • Guest Host: After Kilborn left, several people rotated as guest hostsnote . 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, The Kilborn File.
  • Running Gag: Dick Vermeil's teary Super Bowl victory speech, the PG&E rapping grandmother.
  • Title Theme Tune: "The Late Late Show is starting. The Late Late Show is starting now...with Mr. Kilborn." Sung by Chris Isaak, no less.

    Craig Ferguson's run - A-M 
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: According to the Grand Finale the entire 10 year run was actually just one of these experienced by Nigel Wick
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism:
  • All Just a Dream: At the end of the series in December 2014, on the segment "What Did We Learn On The Show In The Past 10 Years, Craig?", Craig and Geoff ask Secretariat's operator to take off the costume. He is revealed to be Bob Newhart who tells Craig he's dreaming. Nigel Wick then wakes up in bed next to a still-fat Drew Carey, announcing that he's had a terrible dream where he had to host a late night talk show with a robot skeleton and a fake horse for ten years, and even worse, Drew had gotten skinny. Drew says to Wick that he was just dreaming and to go back to sleep. Wick groggily mumbles, "Good night, Geoff," and falls asleep. The camera zooms into a snow globe on the bedside table with Geoff, Craig and Secretariat.
  • The Announcer: Unlike the previous runs of the show, Ferguson has some bits announced by Shadoe Stevens.
  • Anything That Moves: Geoff was originally in theory supposed to be gay, but still has had a tendency to hit on female guests. Then, as of October 11, 2011, he got a girlfriend and is officially bi.
    Geoff (Matthew McConaughey voice): What can I say? Sometimes my current flows the other way.
  • Aquaman: A recurring skit has Craig portraying the character through the use of hilariously-bad special effects, dispensing advice to viewers who write in with their personal problems.
  • April Fools' Day: For 2014, Drew Carey and George Gray switched places with Craig and Geoff; Craig would host The Price Is Right the following morning, with his announcer Shadoe Stevens replacing George Gray, and Geoff/Secretariat being prize models. For Drew, it fulfilled a prophecy from a previous April Fools' day episode where Drew was introduced in the opening spiel as host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell Secretariat that he's fat.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Craig sometimes mocks the CBS audience as a bunch of drowsy, toothless seniors who still lament the cancellation of Matlock and Murder, She Wrote.
    • "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."
  • Brick Joke: The show has this in spades, with jokes from one night creeping into the next.
  • 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.
    • Both Craig and Geoff will often make jokes about Ferguson's clothing, in that it was worn (or will be worn) on another day's show, most often at the end of the week as Thursday's and Friday's shows were usually taped together, with the same audience. This carried through even up to the last episode of the show.
  • Butt Monkeys: The professional warm-up comedian, the producer, and Aqualad.
    • After he crashed Craig's car the production assistant Bridger has become this.
  • Callback: During the final episode's celebrity-filled music number, Matthew McConaughey is playing bongos as his drum of choice; referencing his interview with Craig where they joked about if he "still played the bongos" (a reference to a drug-induced arrest where he was playing the bongos).
  • 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.
    Craig: That was AWESOME!
    • And then Craig grabbed the broom and cleaned it up himself while continuing to do his monologue.
  • Camp
  • 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.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "It's a great day for America, everybody!" (used to start off his monologue most every night; for a time, he approached the phrase in an impersonation of Walter Cronkite)
    • An incredulous, half-whispered "I knooow!" after sharing an unusual news item with the audience.
    • "You too, ladies."
    • "I look forward to your letters."
    • "Eyes up here, mister!"
    • "By the way, _____ was the name I used to dance under." Usually followed by "Ladies and gentlemen, _____!" and him singing "Black Velvet!"
    • The vacuum with "the proper amount of suction".
    • "CBS in no way endorses [whatever remotely objectionable thing he just said]."
    • "CBS Cares." "They do, just not about you..."
    • "REMIND you of anyone...?"
    • "It's kind of a papery blog." (after mentioning a newspaper, magazine, or book)
    • "A lot of people say to me, 'Craig, put your pants on!' And I do."
    • "You're welcome stoners!"
    • While pointing at the bird icon on a Check the Tweets printout, "[name] is actually a [bird/goose/duck/etc.]"
    • What do the ladies say when Craig and Geoff walk in the club?
      • "Here come the players!" (They're so fine...)
    • (bows to Secretariat) "The horse is learning Japanese, I'm being supportive."
    • And for Geoff Peterson:
      • "You're...all...that!"
      • "Loooooove it!"
      • "Naaaailed it!"
      • "IN YOUR PANTS!"
      • "Balls."
      • "Seeex partyyyy!"
      • "Is that code?"
      • (when confused) ".....the hell??"
      • Lately, after Craig says something sexual, "There goes my penis!"
      • "I bid you adieu!" (turns his head sideways)
    • Animated bits:
      • 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.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Sid was prone to this, most memorably in a cold open for one of the Paris shows where he vented his frustration over people walking dogs on the Champ de Mars and French restaurants serving rabbit meat.
  • 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."
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: Sid the Cussing Bunny.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Craig loves to make jokes painting himself as this.
  • 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.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The "Check the Tweets" note  sequence.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Geoff irritated Russell Brand so much that he first poured his glass of water on him, and then proceeded to smack him in the head so hard that the top of his skull came off.
  • Doctor Who Fans: Craig, who keeps a TARDIS on his desk and once had a Dalek stand next to the entrance to the set for a week.
    • Ferguson is credited with being the first major-network talk show host to feature current cast members of Doctor Who on his show, with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Alex Kingston all having made multiple appearances.
    • The show has also run a segment shot at a Doctor Who convention.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Craig both co-wrote and sung the theme tune.
    • Recent seasons have shown him performing the song in a musical sequence at the start; for the Paris episodes, he performed a special version.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Often used for bonus humor, ex. right after a Hurricane of Euphemisms, "Look, I'm talkin' about masturbation!"
  • Double Entendre: By the truckload.
    Geoff: Is that code?
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Geoff's voice used to be VERY different from what people are now used to.
  • End of Series Awareness: Craig and Geoff make more and more jokes about the impending end as they approach it.
    Just a few more weeks of this crap~!
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Kronos!
  • 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.
  • Fly Crazy: During the tweets segment Craig gets constantly pestered by a fly that sounds like Jay Leno (and sometimes one that sounds like Jimmy Fallon).
  • 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 .
  • Gainax Ending:
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • January 6, 2011: His interview with Alex 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".
    • January 25, 2011: The censor said Craig was only allowed to show a certain phallic picture of a haggis once, so he left it up for as long as possible.
    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.
  • Grand Finale: Among other things, we got an epic musical cold open, Craig randomly deciding to introduce a new character, Pipey McPiperson, and Jay Leno as the final guest. The ending? Well, it started off as a normal "What Did We Learn On The Show Over The Last 10 Years Craig?", where he decided that it was about time to resolve the show's greatest mystery: just who is in the Secretariat costume? It's Bob Newhart?! Apparently the whole show was All Just a Dream by Nigel Wick, who wakes up in bed with Drew Carey, who he accidentally offends by mentioning the Drew in his dream had lost weight, looked well, and became a game show host. Cue the final shot of a snow globe with a miniature version of the show's set in it and a Sopranos-style Smash to Black with "Don't Stop Belevin'" getting cut off.
  • Gratuitous French: The 2011 week in Paris, which among other things re-titled the show "Le Late Late Show avec Craig Ferguson a Paris" (which, by the way, should've really been "Le Spectacle Plus-Plus Tard avec Craig Ferguson")
  • Gratuitous German: "FlügenWeb, Späcecode, Twit Zöne, Ass Möde...Check ze Tweets..." note 
    • 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".
  • Guest Host: Between Ferguson's departure and James Corden taking over the show, the show will have rotating guest hosts including Will Arnett, Wayne Brady, Jim Gaffigan, Sean Hayes, frequent guest Thomas Lennon, and Ferguson's former co-star, Drew Carey.
    • During the last show, Ferguson asked Geoff if Josh Robert Thompson, who voiced and controlled Geoff, was asked to be a guest host; Geoff told him he wasn't asked. To which Ferguson made a light-hearted Take That! to CBS, in that if Geoff/Thompson were to guest host, they'd have to rent Geoff from him... at a sizeable cost.
    • One interim host of special note was Adam Pally who had a similar approach as Ferguson. Both derived most of their comedy making fun of how low-rent the show is and small talking with their sidekick (Ben Schwartz for Pally).
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Frequently and jokingly inverted by Ferguson.
  • Happy Dance: "Who's that at the door?? It's Secretariat!!!" For ages after Secretariat first showed up on the show, Craig would celebrate his brief appearance (Secretariat would simply bounce into the studio, then turn around and bounce right back out again) with a happy dance to Secretariat's Leitmotif. For those who haven't seen it, it's basically Craig pumping his fists in the air back and forth, which gradually became more... flail-y. Before long, the fanbase got into it, and soon enough the entire audience was doing Craig's dance with him every time Secretariat showed up.
    • They eventually cooled off on the bit once they moved into the new studio and Secretariat became a full-time sidekick, but they did one more for the road on Craig's last show.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: "You know who else doesn't like ________? Al-Qaeda!"
  • 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.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a harmonica, it's a mouth organ!
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Discussed many times in-universe. Craig is of the opinion that it's better to have mediocre ratings as then the network doesn't pay attention to you (unlike a show that's Adored by the Network), thus averting Executive Meddling.
  • It Was His Sled:invoked Not directly used, but definitely talked about during one of his email sessions.
    "Are you ready, film students??? It Was His Sled! Hahaha! Now you don't have to sit through THREE HOURS!"
  • 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 Born 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).
    • Some actors like Kristen Bell, Angela Kinsey, Adam Goldberg, and Rashida Jones have been on the show so often, he seems to treat them more as friends than as guests, often having them on the show without having something to promote.
    • Bell, Jones, & Kinsey were all guests during the final two weeks of the show, and appeared during the finale's musical open.
    • Ferguson's love of Doctor Who converged with this trope when his friend & former bandmate Peter Capaldi started his role as the Twelfth Doctor in 2014. Unfortunately, he didn't get to have Capaldi back on the show since he began the role before it ended, but he did have him on as a guest in 2009.
  • Large Ham: Craig himself, particularly when he plays Aquaman.
  • Market-Based Title (In-Universe): Craig occasionally jokes that in Japan, the show is re-named Super Happy Fun Time Hour with Robot and Old Man.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Craig's bondage boy Chris. "Apparently, Chris has what the kids call 'pecs'."
  • 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's robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson, was built by (now) former Mythbuster Grant Imahara in 2010, in exchange for Ferguson helping Imhara get to 100,000 Twitter followers.
    • Both Adam Savage and Imahara have been guests on the show.

     Craig Ferguson's run - N-Z 
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Geoff aside, there was also a sketch where Craig pitched Ghost Chimp M.D. to a very familiar-looking CBS executive.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Geoff Peterson's current voice bears a striking resemblance to that of George Takei. Indeed, his voice actor (Josh Robert Thompson) describes Geoff as "one part Snagglepuss, one part Vincent Price, and two parts George Takei".
  • Non-Human Sidekick: His variety of Hand Puppets, including (but not limited to) a unicorn, a dinosaur, a penguin, Kronos (King of the Monkey People), Brian the Shark, Agatha the Chicken, Wavy Rancheros the Waving Crocodile, Connery the Bull, the Swine Flu Comedy Pig, a sheepdog, a camel, a ball on a stick, Skully the flaming Ghost Rider skull on a stick, an owl that doesn't have a mouth, Sid the Cussing Bunny, Storm Trousers the Fourth from the Planet Thunderpants (one of the "People of Earth" intros), and himself.
    • According to his fans, Betty White and Mahmoud Ahmadinnerjacket (the President of Iran) are puppets as well.
    • Geoff Peterson, thanks to Grant Imahara. "Ha!...Ha!...Ha!...You'!"
    • There is also an (un)explainable giraffe puppet. "Don't you hate it when you explain your giraffe by accident?"
    • The new set has a talking rhino head above the fireplace named Sandra.
    • And don't forget about Secretariat too!
  • Oh, Crap!: Geoff Peterson has one with "Uh...oh!"
  • Pantomime Animal: "Who's that at the door? IT'S SECRETARIAT!" (Participants in the Secretariat Dance receive "Team Secretariat" t-shirts.)
    • As of the current set, Secretariat has his own stable and window on the right end of the set; Craig personally feels his presence is a little creepy.
  • Patchwork Map: Whenever Craig asks for a map of an area, such as Italy, the map appears with such fake places as the Sea of Borat, Narnia — and, in one Italy example, Mario Bros. Island.
  • 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.
  • Quietly Performing Sister Show: Not just to The Late Show With David Letterman but late night talk shows in general. While Craig Ferguson built a devoted fanbase, received critical acclaim and performed adequately in the ratings, he never benefitted from network hype (like Jimmy Fallon) and his presence on a regular broadcast network didn't give him the trendy cred he might have gotten on cable. His Grand Finale got a fair amount of media coverage, but a lot of the stories started off with some variation on "The Colbert Report isn't the only late night show signing off this week."
  • 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 Namer Niles 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.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Geoff, since Josh started doing his voice.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: Asking for a picture of Paul McCartney and receiving one of Angela Lansbury. And this is a gag that exists because of spite!
    • 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  and Craig should come by sometime.
    • Early in the show's run, Craig would make repeated jokes about Bob Barker being a vampire.
    • When he mentions Elton John, he shows a picture of Elton from 1980's concert in Central Park, wearing the infamous Donald Duck costume.
    • 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 
    • It had been a long-standing running gag that what Craig really wanted out of life was a secret volcano base with an army of robot skeletons (one of the Tweets & Emails animated intros still shows a volcano with an army of Terminators.) Grant Imhara of MythBusters (a show Craig had repeatedly said he was a fan of) then contacted him and offered to actually build him a robot skeleton. Geoff Peterson is the result.
    • Whenever a show or movie is mentioned - in particular Game of Thrones - a musical snippet vaguely similar to (or nothing like) that work's theme is played because they couldn't afford the real thing. In Game of Thrones' case, a generic medieval theme is played.
    • References to the warm-up comedian usually begin with this: "We call him a comedian... he's not really a comedian."
  • Self-Deprecation: Craig employs this a lot, with regard to himself as well as the show in general.
  • Shameless Self-Promotion: "You know, Clash of the Titans comes out this weekend...but will you learn anything from it? Why don't you watch something you can learn something to Train Your Dragon? ...Alright, I'm in it!"
    • Did it again when the sequel came out, lauding it as "the greatest movie in the history of movies". Jay Baruchel, the guest in question, admitted their opinion might perhaps be a little skewed on the matter.
  • 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 
    • 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.
    • Geoff Peterson wears a nametag from The Price Is Right.
    • Josh Robert Thompson as Morgan Freeman: "Get busy watchin', or get busy sleepin'!"
  • 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.
  • Show Within a Show: Bone Patrol with GP and the Fergs
  • Skele Bot 9000: Geoff Peterson.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: During the the teaser and the monologue, the censors pixelate 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 pixelation 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: ¡AY CARAMBA!
    • French flag: OOHLALA! CROISSANT!
    • Italian flag: Tootsi Frootsi! or Whassa cummanago!
    • Australian flag: Crikey Dingo! and Boing!
    • Swedish flag: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!
    • Gay Pride flag: Ah-oh! or Ohh!
  • Soylent Green: Canadian Bacon is made FROM PEOPLE!
  • Spoof Aesop: What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?
  • Straight Gay: Geoff, at first, but then became bi - or as Geoff puts it, ac/dc.
  • Studio Audience That's Completely Genuine In Their Applause Which Is Not At All Prompted By A Warm-Up Comedian
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The graphics during the occasional "theme week". Hell, just about ANY graphic he calls for explodes at the end. NOTABLY averted during "Nobel Prize Week", where the graphic simply rose up to a small trumpet fanfare, then lowered back down without incendiary incident.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Title Theme Tune: All together now...
    It's hard to stay up, it's been a long long day, and you got the sandman at your door
    But hang on, leave the TV on, and let's do it anyway! It's okay!
    Tomorrow's just your future yesterday!
    • Theme Tune Extended: A fully recorded studio version can be found here.
      • 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.
  • 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).
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: 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.
      • In her final appearance they had more of a brother-sister vibe, mainly due to Kristen being nine months pregnant.
    • He and James MacAvoy created a Vortex 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.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Craig and Geoff Peterson often give off this vibe, made a bit surreal by the fact that one of them is a robot skeleton.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: One sketch was about Craig and Geoff going to Las Vegas to celebrate Geoff's birthday with guests like Grant Imahara, who originally made Geoff, and Morgan Freeman doing Secretariat's voice for lord knows what reason. It all builds up to Craig and Geoff getting married, much to their (or at least Craig's) surprise.
  • Walking the Earth: Craig's plan once the show ends. Drew Carey compares this to Jack Reacher, but only in the books because he doesn't like the movie.
  • Weasel Mascot
  • We Care: Craig likes to mock the ones his network does — "CBS Cares."
    Craig: In fact, that's what CBS stands for — Cares...'Bout...Stuff.

    James Corden's Run 
  • Adorkable: James is unabashedly gleeful at having this gig. He squees his way through each show and it makes him all the more endearing.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: James gently tweaked CBS for their decision to fill the summer gap in the 11:35 slot between David Letterman's retirement and Stephen Colbert's debut with episodes of various prime time dramas by doing cold open sketches with a Talking Dead-style companion talk show for its reruns of The Mentalist, Talking Mentalist. Later accompanied by a spin-off, Talking Talking Mentalist (in which they talk about the previous Talking Mentalist), and a successor in Talking Hawaii Five-0, complete with bonus Chris Hardwick.
  • Cold Open: Unusually for a late night talk show, James does his monologue before the title sequence.
  • Corpsing: In this installment of Celebrity Noses, the guitarist behind Reggie is just barely keeping it together whenever the camera cuts back to them.
    • The members of One Direction are clearly laughing during the "BALL IN YOUR FACE" scene in the "Dodgeball with One Direction" sketch - the camera pans quickly so it's less obvious, but they're obviously laughing.
    • James himself can quite hold it together after a few choice ad-libs from Neil Patrick Harris during their Riff-Off.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Speaking of guest Chris Pine:
    James: I don't know whether to shake his hand or lick his face.
    • Matt Bomer evokes a similar reaction (complete with fantasy sequence!).
  • Hidden Depths: Despite his major role in Into the Woods, celebrities in the Carpool Karaoke are usually baffled when James busts out a hell of a tune.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Naturally, several former co-stars and acquaintances of James have made appearances on the show. Anna Kendrick, in particular, has put in a number of appearances in addition to co-starring with James in Into the Woods and Trolls.
  • Old Shame: As mentioned below, James loves to bring up an embarrassing early project/experience of one of his guests and showing a clip or picture (much like Graham Norton, whose show's format is very similar to James'). Their reactions are usually...
  • Oh, Crap!: Eddie Redmayne's reaction when James shows a clip of him singing "Memory" from their high school years.
    Eddie: I knew coming onto this show was a bad idea!
    • Natalie Portman reacts similarly when her old environmental pop group, the Earth Patrol Kids, are shown.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: On the June 8, 2016 episode, Corden discusses the policy that CBS must buy any fictitious domain name mentioned on his show so it doesn't get squatted by someone else. In this case, it happened to be However, with James acknowledging how hilarious it sounded, the producers seized the opportunity by making it a real site where you can upload a picture of yourself and your mom in a photo of a stick figure massaging another. His discussion of it then turned into a ticket plug (suggesting that you should take your mom to a taping, and could possibly be massaged there). Then it turned into a plug for his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and then an Overly Long Gag in which Corden listed off every single social networking service or app he is supposedly on.
  • Re Tool: This version of the show shakes up the format somewhat by having multiple guests come out and be interviewed together for the duration of the show (a common mechanic of British talk shows), rather than having them come out one at a time and sometimes having the first guest leave (the U.S. standard). Also, the seating arrangement is flipped with James sitting to the left of the screen rather than the right like every other host does. James also pulls his chair right next to the couch rather than interviewing from behind his desk.
  • Running Gag: Reggie Watts announces James as being from a different city at the start of each episode. In recent episodes, he has begun saying a city, but attaching it to a completely different location. For example, he introduced James as being from Milwaukee, Illinois. There is no town in Illinois called Milwaukee.
  • Serial Escalation: Sting and James performed a sketch where they played rival singing waiters engaged in a war of oneupsmanship with each coming back with a more ludicrous way of performing for the restaurant's patrons.
  • Side-Effects Include...: Invoked by a recurring sketch, showing side effects of various activities.
  • Troubled Production: invoked "I smell a good time, you smell a good time: it's time for Celebrity Noses!" It is purportedly some type of game, but it promptly goes wrong in various ways (such as Reggie having issues getting the theme music right, the intro graphic glitching, James losing the cards, Reggie insisting the segment be broadcast online via Periscope even though it's going to be on TV eventually, and "human error" causing intros for other segments to come up instead), then they run out of time and can't even do the segment. The Christmas edition went as far as doing a Smash to Black after James was repeatedly told by the producer (specifically, Ben Winston, the actual co-executive producer) that they were out of time.
    • Of course, something eventually going wrong is the point of the sketch, because an actual segment devoted to looking at celebrities' noses is a terrible idea, since one can just go on the Internet, and look at them themselves. But, it is still not completely clear what Celebrity Noses is actually supposed to involve.
    • Also, one of the writers will play a fictional expert in some field (from science to even gift-wrapping) with the name of a European soccer player (especially those who played in the English Premier League) to do a segment towards the end of the show. Unfortunately, Reggie and the band don't stop playing, causing there to be no time left for the segment. This usually results in the "expert" taking their anger out on James, to the point that they storm out of the studio, or James has to call for security.
    • A segment where James is to take questions about him or the show from the audience is always thrown off by someone asking something irrelevant. Once, it was nothing but questions about the parking situation at CBS Studio City.
  • What an Idiot: invoked People who pick anything but "D: None of the above" in the studio audience game called "None of the Above."
    Audience member: I'm going to go with "B".
    James: I'm going to make sure you'd like to go with "B" even though the game is called "None of the Above."
    Audience member: Can I change my answer?
    James: Oh, no, noooo, you can stick with B if you want!