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) 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 Americna 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!
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