Monday, May 21, 2012

Craig Ferguson in Scotland: Hold the Haggis But Bring On the Laughs

Craig Ferguson is my favorite late night TV host. Yes, Conan, Fallon, and Letterman all bring me joy, but Craig's brand of joy comes with a great deal of wisdom and a lot of heart. Last year, he took the Late Late Show to Paris for a week, and the result was a marvelous five days of Craig sharing wonderful anecdotes, philosophizing with Jean Reno, wandering around Versailles with Kristen Bell, and dancing the cancan at the Moulin Rouge. It was his usual blend of low-brow humor and extremely high-brow whimsy and I loved every minute of it. So last month, when he unveiled the following trailer for his week of shows in Scotland, I knew this would be a week of unmissable late night TV.

This trailer made me smile the instant I saw it, and for the next few days I would catch myself humming the Imagineers song that it's set to. While Paris was fine and dandy, Craig performing in Scotland is far more personal and the week of shows did not disappoint. Craig famously refuses to have scripted conversations with his guests - unlike other late night shows where guests come prepared with set stories that the host will nudge them into telling, Craig just launches into an informal chat. The movie or TV show that the guests are promoting will barely get a mention, but the audience gets a much better sense of who these people are in real life. But with taking the show to Scotland, there isn't even a couch or a host behind the desk. It's just Craig showing Mila Kunis around a Glaswegian graveyard or eating crumpets with David Sedaris, and the conversations that result are always surprising, insightful, and hilarious.

Of course, the celebrity shenanigans aren't the real reason to watch. The loveliest moments are when Craig returns to his old high school and has a chat with the current headmaster about his reasons for dropping out of school. Or when he revisits his childhood home and talks to the lady who lives there now about whether she would want her kids to stay in Cumbernauld. He has such a complicated history with Scotland but he shares it all with the audience with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and humor. You can find the shows on the CBS website or with some assiduous YouTube searches and see for yourself. And afterwards join me for crumpets so we can have a rambling discussion about how awesome Craig Ferguson is. 

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