Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#A-TO-Z CHALLENGE – LETTER “F” – CRAIG FERGUSON, SCOTTISH-AMERICAN COMEDIAN

CRAIG FERGUSON

 
Craig Ferguson, born 17 May, 1962 in the Springburn district of Glasgow, Scotland, Scottish-American comedian. I knew when I chose this topic that I would write about Craig Ferguson. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he hails from the same area as my father and his family, thus, there is already a kinship. The Wallace clan are obviously a different clan; but we separate from all other Scottish clans, with no septs, by choice and there is an historic and also a political reason for this, but that is a story for another day. That does not mean that we do not pay homage to others, nor fail to appreciate a comedic style that is partially home-grown, by Ferguson and mostly, unique to him.

This pretty much sums up a Scots festival; blue painted face. Probably a Ferguson kilt. And oh yeah! Plenty o' bagpipes!

Ferguson is a comedian who started out playing drums in rock and punk bands, first with a group called Exposure and later with a punk band called Bastards From Hell. The band re-made itself and changed its name to Dreamboys and was fronted from time to time by Peter Cipaldi, in Glasgow, from 1980 to 1982, which has had a thriving music and theater arts/comedy scene for decades. Cipaldi encouraged Ferguson to have his first go at stand-up comedy, which to Ferguson's credit, he attempted, although it was a nerve-wracking first performance.


Bing Hitler

After that, Ferguson decided to develop a character based on all of the overly-patriotic native folk-singers who seemed to infect every music festival in Scotland. The character “Bing Hitler” coined by Cipaldi and premiered in Glasgow, became a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in 1986. Ferguson went on from that to Red Dwarf [citation needed], STV's Hogmanay Show, and the 1993 One Foot in the Grave Christmas Special, One Foot in the Algarve. Also in 1993, Ferguson presented a series on Scottish Television, called Dirt Detective. He traveled throughout the country examining archaeological history, including Skara Brae and Paisley Abbey.

Ferguson also found success in musical theater as Brad Majors, playing alongside Anthony Head, who was Dr. Frank-n-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show. He had several other shows on STV, but after the cancellation of his show The Ferguson Theory, he moved to Los Angeles, California.

                                                                                                                                                                     courtesy of: craigferguson.tumblr.com 

Nigel Wick; on the list of All-Time Terrible Bosses

There, his first U. S. role was as Logan McDonough in the short-lived ABC comedy Maybe This Time, with Betty White and Marie Osmond. He went from there to his break-out role as the mean-spirited boss, Mr. Wick, in The Drew Carey Show, who he played with an over-the-top-English accent to “make up for generations of English actors doing crap Scottish accents.” He cites James Doohan's (who was actually Canadien by birth) portrayal of Montgomery Scott on the old Star Trek series, (thereby clearing up a mystery in my household. Me Ma (she was from Edinburgh and never saw Braveheart) insisted tha' was the wurst Scots she'd ever heard, but then, she thought that the statue of William Wallace in Glasgow looked a lot like Mel Gibson, and didn't see any family resemblance to my late father. I just changed the subject, while trying not to laugh idiotically) specifically in his comedy special A Wee Bit o' Revolution.


I grew up with the Wallace standards, tartan and other paraphernalia that had been handed down over generations and knew my family's history, long before Mel Gibson concocted his version. Thank the Christ my father was in his grave when Braveheart came out.

During his off time as cast member, Ferguson devoted his time to screen-writing and produced and starred in three films, The Big Tease, Saving Grace and I'llBe There. (I've seen The Big Tease and it's a tour-de-force of satire; documentaries, hair stylists and the Big Contest, complete with all of the back-stage ravings! A very funny movie, as is Saving Grace, about an English widow who turns to some, um, illegal agriculture as a way to save her town.)
 

This Celtic symbol is in honor of his mother, who is of Irish heritage.
In December 2004, it was announced that Ferguson, would take over from Craig Killborn, following the David Letterman show on CBS's, The Late, Late Show. His first show as host aired on February 5, 2005. By May of 2008, Ben Alba, an American television historian and authority on U. S. Talk shows said that Ferguson was “making his own mark, taking the TV monologue to new levels with an underlying story. But. . . he is only just starting. It is the immigrant experience.”



Craig Ferguson Rants on His Staff

 
That it is. I watched when Ferguson became a U.S. Citizen and have watched him as he takes pride in his adopted country, much in the way my parents did, especially my father, who was a more devoted patriot than I, native-born can say. Craig Ferguson has won the prestigious Peabody Award, written two books, one a novel, and one, his memoirs, called American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot. The book 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 the rise of his career as a comic.


Clan Ferguson Standard and Crest

He has held a special place in my heart because I do identify with the particular Scots looniness of his brand of comedy. It was de rigueur in my house, growing up and was also, shall we say, profane. One of the hallmarks that I did NOT touch on and that is toned down here in America or polite British society, is the peculiar use of the “f” word in the Erse or Gaelic world. If you weren't cussin' up a storm in my household by the age of oh, 11, there was something wrong. In his comedy acts, Ferguson uses profanity freely; I am well-accustomed to it and it bothers me not one whit. Here in the U. S. it is quite different, so one does as they do in Rome. But, underlying all the f-bombs are some hard truths and witty observations about the human condition. Ferguson is one of the best and most honest comics around; he wears his heart on his sleeve and he plays a might fine set o' drums!

16 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mary .. they are interesting to read - but for some reason I can't get my head around comics - I know many can and love their performances and their shows.

The interesting part here for me! was the Wallace link and your Celtic roots .. and your father's patriotism of his adopted country ..

Interesting to read .. cheers Hilary

Donna said...

Ferguson's memoir is a great read and Saving Grace is a very funny movie. I'll have to check out more of his stuff. Your family stories are fascinating.

Silvia Villalobos said...

Talented guy, that's for sure. Love watching a good performer, especially at the end of a long day. Nothing like great entertainment to wash away the stress.
Silvia @
SilviaWrites

Andrea said...

I wish late night tv was on a little earlier, as I would never get around to watching everything I'd like to dvr!

Carol Graham said...

Thank goodness for PVR. It is the only way I can get time to watch T V or movies. And you save so much time buzzing through the commercials.

I had no idea Ferguson had so many credentials. Thank you for an excellent expose. :)

Erica Gore said...

I loved him as Mr Wick..he was so manic with those wild eyes.
My heritage is Irish and the use of profanity is strong in their humour too. The F word can be used as every part of speech and often repeatedly in a single sentence.

Viola Fury said...

@hillary!

Hi! I know stand-up comics are just not some people's cups of tea! The thing with so many of them, is that they are fine actors, writers, singers and performers in different genres, and since this is A-to-Z, I am really TRYING to not just run through a c.v. of their stuff!

His movies are grand and his performance as Nigel Wick as the mean-spirited boss on "The Drew Carey Show" was one of the funniest things around on an already funny show.

I'm glad you enjoyed the part about the Wallace heritage and can see that it too, was a whole lot of confusion, just in my house, when it came to accents and lineage; as much fun as we had with it all, I think we also understood that it 'twas a bit twee!

Thank you, Hillary for acknowledging my father's patriotism, which saw him serve in World War II and the Korean Police Action. He took to heart the concepts of human rights, dignity and freedom of speech for all, as did my mother, regardless of any creed, race, gender or sexual orientation. The fact that we're still going round and round about these things now, would be disheartening to them both, I think. Thanks for stopping by! Mary. xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Donna, Thanks so much for visiting! I'm glad you enjoyed the post about Ferguson; he's pretty iconic, I think. I'm glad you enjoy my family stories; I had unique parents and as an only child, I was privy to lots of things that I probably would not have been, until I was older! It makes for a different take on childhood, if not an always tranquil one! Thanks again! Mary xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Silvia!

Thanks for stopping by! Yes! I agree and I also love it when he brings out the puppets and Jeff! Mary xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Andrea!

Thanks for visiting! Now that I'm "retired" I can stay up, but since I'm visually impaired, I watch everything on my 24" monitor, with visual enhancement software, and just stream his stuff. As for watching EVERYTHING, I have a backlog of so many shows, movies, etc., as I'm sure you must! Thanks again! Mary. xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Andrea!

Thanks for visiting! Now that I'm "retired" I can stay up, but since I'm visually impaired, I watch everything on my 24" monitor, with visual enhancement software, and just stream his stuff. As for watching EVERYTHING, I have a backlog of so many shows, movies, etc., as I'm sure you must! Thanks again! Mary. xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Carol!

Thanks for the visit! Yes! I'm glad I can watch on Hulu or NetFlix and bypass adverts. They're insulting, anyway!

I had always been impressed with Ferguson, but when he won the Peabody, I knew he was really onto something. He's the type of humorist who will take a "snapshot" of culture and reflect it back at his audience, and magnify the flaws. Carlin did this, but a bit more raucously, although, Ferguson isn't afraid to throw out an f-bomb.

He is also happy to just be silly for being silly's sake, much in the way of Carlin. Sometimes, just a guy having fun up on the stage is a great thing to observe! Thanks again, Mary. xoxo

Viola Fury said...

@Erica!

Thanks for visiting! Ha ha! Mr. Wick with his manic eyes! Now, he gets accused of being "creepy" on his talk show!

The Irish and the Scots hold that in common and a whole lot more, seeing as how the Irish Sea is pretty narrow and the northwestern coast of Scotland is pretty close to Ulster, by my reckoning. The one thing that still separates us is the accent, and they are all glorious. A Dubliner sounds nothing like a Glaswegian and to me it is all music.

When I was playing viola professionally, I played with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players. For a couple of seasons, we had 2 brothers who were from Dublin and were brass players. They were also fine singers and story-tellers and we closed the bars, more than a few nights after the show! I have an endearing and life-long love of the Irish, so closely related to the Scots, yet so different in many ways!

But yes, the F word is many things to the Scots and the Irish, and can be used as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb and proper noun! We would consider it no less than letting down our side of the conversation if we didn't sprinkle F words about! Thanks, Mary xoxo

Anonymous said...

Great topic! Craig Ferguson is my hero and I would be lost without him. He's a positive force in our lives, for sure, and I'm always raving about him. Not everyone gets his humor, though. My grandfather was from Scotland, so when I heard about the Scottish guy trying out for The Late Late Show I had to stay up to watch and haven't enjoyed a normal sleep cycle since 2004. Today is a great day to celebrate Craig and thank our lucky stars for his brilliance.

Viola Fury said...

@Anonymous!

Thanks for visiting! Yes! You captured one of my favorite catch-phrases, with his "it's a grrrreat day here in America!" and then with a flourish, he shows us the crappy background of LA that his set people have put up there! All part of the fun! Eternally optimistic and yet, when tragedy strikes in the world that resonates with us all, he pays tribute to that; I've welled up more than once. He does wear his heart on his sleeve. Thanks for stopping by, and so happy your Scottish grandfather and your own heritage brought you to him, although, I think he's pretty much for everyone! Mary. xoxo

Kristen Dyrr said...

Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to you. I wasn't expecting to be as busy as I am during the challenge, but I'm slowly making my way through. I love your blog, so I'm going to be looking through all your posts, but it may take a little while.

Having said all that, I LOVE Craig Ferguson! I love the post with all the various images, gif, and video. Great stuff! :)

Random Musings from the KristenHead — F is for 'Fringe' and 'Firefly': First-class Sci-fi Shows