The Funniest Craig Ferguson Jokes and Moments for the Comedy Hall of Fame
Which Craig Ferguson do you know best? The musician? The comedian? The actor? The screenwriter? The author? The talk-show host? Whatever he’s doing — and however you know him — you can be sure that he’s doing it in a cheeky, rambling, and most importantly, honest way. Ferguson's winding path to stardom (and Scottish heritage?) seems to have imbued him with just the right amount of iconoclastic spirit. His ‘I’m doing this my way' approach permeated his turn as host of The Late Late Show, where his largely improvised monologues, “I'll ask you anything” interview style, and lovely left-field weirdness (Ex. his gay robot sidekick, Geoff Peterson) put an indelible stamp on the late night format.
And so, today, we’d like to honor this fearless comedic jack-of-all-trades by inducting 13 of his best jokes and moments into our Hall of Fame.
“I admire Sigmund Freud. He said, ‘Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.’ That’s a very clever thing to say. Then again, Sigmund Freud also said, ‘Man, this cocaine is slammin’!’”
Being Bing Hitler
Ferguson’s first on-stage character was an ultra-patriotic folk singer rant comic. The name of the character was the idea of Ferguson’s friend and bandmate at the time — future Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi.
“There are only two groups of people you can talk about with any degree of safety: Nazis and Canadians. Who gives a fuck if you upset Nazis? And Canadians, they figured it out. They’ve realized it’s a fuckin’ joke. To be honest, Canadians are just happy to be included. Not that I’m comparing Nazis to Canadians. They’re not the same at all. Nazis — bastards. Canadians — lovely. Lovely people, Canadians. Gentle, civilized, beautiful people. Till you give ’em a hockey stick. Then they lose their fuckin’ minds! I don’t know why the Canadian Army bothers with tanks and guns and bombs and shit. They should just give the guys hockey sticks and go, ‘There you are, boys. The Taliban have the puck.’”
His First TV Acting Gig
As if being the drummer in The Doctor’s band didn’t give Ferguson enough British sci-fi geek street cred, his first TV appearance was on Red Dwarf as Confidence, the physically manifested hallucination of the main character’s, well, confidence as the result of a mutated pneumonia infection. (I assure you that it makes perfect sense in the context of the show.)
On Doing Drugs in Scotland
“In Scotland, I did all the drugs. Like, ‘Does anyone have some heroin?’
“‘No, Craig’s taken it all.’
“‘But we want to do Trainspotting.’
“I needed drugs in Scotland. Not to escape the violence, and sectarian hatred. You get used to that. It’s like living next to the airport — you hardly notice it after a while. No, I needed drugs to escape my mother’s sense of interior design.”
His Turn in ‘Saving Grace’
Ferguson co-stars in this 2000 British comedy — he also co-wrote it — as a gardener who helps a widow set up a cannabis grow operation to pay off her debts.
The Obligatory ‘Drew Carey Show’ Entry
For eight seasons, Ferguson played Carey’s crude, hard-ass English boss on the sitcom. A big motivation of Ferguson’s for taking the role was to exact revenge on decades of English actors butchering Scottish accents on-screen. Sadly, though, because of music-licensing issues, the show is unlikely to hit home media or the streaming services anytime soon.
“I like to cuss. It helps me be friendly to people. It emphasizes my friendliness. Like, if you see a friend of yours, and they’ve got new pants on and you go, ‘Oh, those are nice new pants.’ They’ll go, ‘Oh, thanks very much.’ But if you go, ‘Whoa, great fuckin’ pants!’ They’ll be like, ‘I know, aren’t they? I saw them in the store I was like fuuuuuck!’”
His ‘Big Tease’
If you’re a fan of Christopher Guest’s mostly improv-ed mockumentary-style comedies, check out The Big Tease, co-written by and starring Ferguson as a Scottish hairdresser traveling to L.A. for the World Hairdresser International Federation’s annual contest.
On Drug Addiction
“It was explained to me in rehab that the difference between an alcoholic and a junkie was this: An alcoholic will steal your purse to buy alcohol and then be consumed with guilt and remorse and drink themselves to death over it. A junkie will steal your purse and then help you look for it.”
The Obligatory ‘Late Late Show’ Entry
From 2005 to 2014, Ferguson hosted The Late Late Show. He was a great interviewer, and better yet, he wasn’t afraid to get weird. Case in point: His sidekick on the show was a robot skeleton named Geoff. Ferguson had it in his contract that he’d take over for David Letterman when Letterman retired, but when the network brass decided to go with Stephen Colbert instead, Ferguson made the decision to step down from the show.
“Where I come from, to be called an antique, something has to be at least a hundred years old. That’s a law: It has to be a hundred years old. In L.A., something that’s been around for a couple of weeks is an antique. People are like, ‘Look at this old-fashioned iPod! It’s the size of a man’s hand! Back then, people thought Mel Gibson was just acting crazy. It was a very different time.’”
“I sometimes wonder if fear isn’t just God’s way of saying, ‘Pay attention, this could be fun.’”