Craig Ferguson on ‘Late Late Show’: ‘It’s Time to Go’

Beverly Hills, Calif. -- Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson reflected on his 10 years at the helm of CBS' late-night talker on Monday.

"It's time to go, though,” said Ferguson, during the Paley Center for Media's "We Bid Adieu to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" program. “I feel very strongly that that’s the right time. I’ve felt that for a while now.”

The Scottish comic, who was joined on stage by actor, writer and producer Jim Rash, is known for his off-kilter wit and for being quick on his feet, especially when bantering on the show with robot sidekick Geoff Peterson.

Since Ferguson succeeded Craig Kilborn as host of the Late Late Show in 2005, Ferguson has broken nearly all the late-night rules. From talking close to the camera, to puppets, to cursing like a sailor, he’s not been afraid to push buttons.

“Over time I realized I didn’t fit and that in trying to fit I was making myself uncomfortable,” said Ferguson, who recalled having conversations with producer Peter Lassally about whether or not he should wear a tie.

Ferguson will sign off for the last time on Friday, Dec. 19. British import James Corden is set to take the reins on March 23, 2015.

“I celebrated the format. I loved the format. I do actually love what it became to me.” said Ferguson. “But it’s constrictive…It has a limit, which ultimately I thought, ‘Well, I’m done. I think I’ve reached all the corners of this box.’”

Other highlights from the conversation include:

—Rash asked if Ferguson had a moment on the show where everything clicked. The comic said that after doing his second guest host show he told executive producer Pete [Lassally] “‘Give me a week of this and I’ll f**king nail it.’ And I felt a thrill on that second show.”  

—Ferguson shifted his interview style during the show’s run to more of a conversational tone. “I realized I was glassing over as people were talking,” he said, explaining that it wasn’t that the people were uninteresting but that the questions he was asking were boring. “I started putting questions in for me.”

—The host admitted that he’s very impatient and not good with preparation, joking that he used to get three and a half pages of notes on guests but now just goes to their Wikipedia page.

—During an interview with Desmond Tutu, Tutu told the host “I think you are crazy.” The archbishop went on to explain his thought during the commercial break, said Ferguson, telling the comic “‘No, you are crazy. But you are the type of crazy we need.’”

—Rash asked Ferguson about how his perspective changed after he became a U.S. citizen. He said: “I think what happens is, I sometimes, when I look at perhaps other people who have come in from other countries and perhaps done talk shows fairly recently on CNN — no one in particular. They come in and are very didactic and very sure about how America should be run whilst paying no taxes here, having no vote here and having no f**king history here.”

—Geoff Peterson, Ferguson’s robot sidekick, is voiced by Josh Robert Thompson, whom Ferguson said took the idea of Geoff and ran with it. “Because Josh is so good at what he does, and is so talented that he took my petulant, kind of, piece of iconoclasm and turned it into a very good example of a sidekick. And I thought, ‘You, son of a b*tch.’”

—Ferguson had a hard time pinning down a defining moment. But did say that sometimes when he does his monologue he thinks “‘this is a long way from where I am from.’ And it is. It’s a very odd thing.”

—The self-effacing host admitted, “I don’t think really in all fairness we did keep it fresh in every show. I think that what happens is that when you get to this point in a show’s life we can all pretend that every show was great but they weren’t.”

—After the audience saw a clip of Ferguson and Kristen Bell in Paris improvising a scene, he said: “It’s got to be fun. If it’s not fun I don’t want to do it.”

—Ferguson said that he spoke with James Corden after it was announced Corden would be taking over the show. He told Corden not to worry because “I’ve set the bar very low.”

—An audience member asked Ferguson to talk about the funny moments on his game show Celebrity Name Game. “I like the fact that it seems to be in the last few episodes that we shot, maybe the last 30, I thought ‘Oh, I think it’s beginning to fall apart.’ So I have hope.”

—The one guest Ferguson wanted to have on the show was author Kurt Vonnegut. But Vonnegut died before Ferguson could get him to appear.

Jessika Walsten

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.