Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-born American comedian. He is the current host of The Late Late Show on CBS.
Date of Birth: May 17, 1962
Place of Birth: Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Craig was raised in Cumbernauld, a small town outside of Glasgow. His parents are Robert and Janet Ferguson and he has two sisters (Janice and Lynn) and a brother (Scott). He went to elementary school at Muirfield Primary School where he was bullied for being overweight. Craig also talks about how his teachers were very strict in his autobiography. As a teenager, Craig attended Cumbernauld High School. In high school Craig fell in with a group of rougher kids and this was when he was first introduced to alcohol. It was also during his teen years that Craig first traveled to the United States of America to visit his uncle. While visiting the U.S., he told his father that he was going to live in America when he grew up, which would become his life long goal. Other discoveries that Craig made during his trip to America were rock and roll music and drugs. Upon his return to Scotland, he began to find ways to try and achieve his goal of going to live in America. He learned how to play the drums and joined some garage bands but they never lasted for very long. Craig dropped out of high school at sixteen in 1978 because he couldn't stand teachers and school anymore.
After dropping of high school, Craig got a job working for a factory owned by Burroughs Company as an electronics technician. He has said that he wasn't very interested in the job because he was trying to further his career in rock music. During his attempts to be part of a rock band, Craig joined Exposure but eventually that fell through. His biggest success in the music scene was joining the Bastards from Hell, later renamed Dreamboys, where he was the drummer. Craig's joining the Dreamboys was actually due to his current girlfriend who told the band that Craig was a drummer when they were looking for a replacement. It was also where he first met Peter Capaldi, an art student from the local college, who would later go on to be an actor and who would be a significant influence on Craig's early comedic acts. During this stage in his life, Craig started to become more and more dependent on alcohol and it was also at this time that he started experiencing severe anxiety, which he treated with alcohol.
While with the Dreamboys, Peter Capaldi encouraged him to explore comedy as he thought that Craig had a natural talent for it. But after a disasterous first attempt while introducing another band, Craig decided to just pursue music. The Dreamboys eventually parted ways as Peter was starting to get discovered as an actor. Craig was able to get a gig as the drummer for a band called James King and the Lone Wolves, oddly enough the band that his first comedic debut was meant to introduce, but the out of control behavior by the frontman caused Craig to leave the band.
Back to America
In the early 80s Craig met Anne, who shared his dream of wanting to go live in America. They got married in 1983 and moved to New York City, Harlem to be more exact. He worked construction and she worked as a waitress, illegally as they only had tourist visas. It would be during his stay in the states, Craig entered the world of acting. After making a deal with a friend to attend an audition of an off-off-Broadway play just for fun, Craig's accent and demeanor made an impression on the director and he actually got the lead role. He decided that he enjoyed acting so he accepted the part but unfortunately the time needed for rehearsal paired with long hours at his construction job started to adversely affect his marriage to Anne. It was also during this time that Craig started to use cocaine and his drinking habits continued to get more troublesome. Unfortunately, Craig and Anne's stay in America came to an end and they moved back to Scotland.
After returning to Scotland, Craig got a job working at a local pub called The Chip. He and Anne were still together but things were spiraling very quickly, especially when Craig's problem with alcohol was factored into the picture. After an argument at a party in 1986, they decided that their marriage was over. Around this time Craig decided to get back into comedy. He decided to try his luck on a Gong show at a local club. The Gong show contest featured contestants who were trying to win a prize by being the performer whose act lasts the longest before getting forced off stage by the crowd's orders to ring a gong. While preparing for the Gong show, Craig decided he wanted his act to focus on mocking the ultra-patriotic way some Scots describe aspects of being Scottish. He wanted to have a stage name to go with this act and he settled on the name Bing Hitler, a name that Peter Capaldi had conceived back during the days of the Dreamboys.
Bing Hilter's debut was a huge success. Craig actually ran out of material and called for the gong to be sounded on himself. Ultimately he did not win the contest but he did discover that he was on to something with his comedy act and decided to explore stand up comedy further.
One of Craig's first big sucesses with the persona of Bing Hitler was the was a spot in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an arts festival that is largely focused on theatre and comedy. His timeslot was in the very early in the morning so at first he didn't have a large audience but as word spread he began to get a larger following. Unfortunately during this time Craig's dependancy on alcohol became steady worse. In his autobiography he explains that his stage fright required him to have several drinks in order to even get on stage. Eventually Craig got approached by a woman from London who wanted to be his agent and she started booking him gigs at comedy clubs in London. At first Craig was reluctant to go but, as admitted in his biography, he agreed once he realized he would be able to get cocaine there. Craig also met Helen at this point and while they were dating he attempted to control his drinking but eventually they separated after Craig went on a alcohol/cocaine binge while away in London. After Helen's departure Craig began to spiral downward at an alarming rate. His career suffered for it and he became steadily more and more depressed. He actually seriously considered suicide on Christmas day in 1991 but was put off from it because a friend bought him a drink to celebrate Christmas causing him to reconsider. After that incident it was only a couple of months before, after seeing meeting an old friend who was now sober, Craig entered rehab in Feburary of 1991.
Back to Square One...
After getting out of rehab, Craig set out to make amends to those he had adversely affected while he was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. He also started to salvage his career so that he could pay off the massive debts that he had incurred in the past. He signed on to play Brad Majors in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, interestingly enough alongside Anthony Stewart Head who played Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and found some success in musical theatre. Eventually Craig achieved moderate success in the U.K., appearing on various TV shows and television specials as well as plays. As he gained more work, Craig decided that he wanted to go to Hollywood so that he could accomplish his lifelong dream of living in America.
Once Craig moved to Hollywood, he got a new agent and started looking for work. At first he didn't have much success but following an amusing attempt at auditioning for the part of a Hispanic wedding photographer for a TV show in 1996, he was offered his breakout role. He was offered the part of Nigel Wick, the main character's boss in The Drew Carey Show, because he was able to do a British accent, which he deliberately did over-the-top as "revenge" for English actors butchering Scottish accents in the past. During his tenure on The Drew Carey Show, he met his second wife Sascha and they got married in 1998. In 2001, they had a son named Milo. Craig's stint on The Drew Carey Show ended in 2003, with occasional appearances in 2004, and he filled his time by trying his hand at writing and directing but none of his endeavors were very successful. Unfortunately it was also during this time that Craig's marriage to Sascha ended but, as described in his autobiography, it ended well so there was no animosity.
2004 was also the year that Craig Kilborn decided to step down as the host of The Late Late Show. The Late Late Show, as the name implies, is a late night talk show on the CBS channel. In order to find a replacement for the show, it was decided that guest hosts would sit in every night and try their hand at it and the actor that was the best fit would get the job. Craig did, what he thought, was going to be a one time show on The Late Late Show and was a bit surprised when they had him back a second time when the producers were trying to narrow down the pool of candidates. He eventually was deemed the best of all the other prospects and was offered the job which he accepted. Craig is still currently the host of The Late Late Show and, according to critics, has used his time on the show to "revolutionize the TV monologue." He is also well known for not only having extremely amusing chats with his guests, comedic skits and other off-kilter aspects, but because he has shown that he can handle serious subjects as well. Some examples are the two separate occasions where he eulogized his parents in his nightly monologue, refused to make jokes about the downward spiral of actress Britney Spears and rerecording his planned Batman-themed intro due to the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado to explain the would be no intro as it would be disrespectful and that they were going to air the previously recorded show as discussing the tragedy in a normal show would not be appropriate but that it could not be ignored. He also said he would be forgoing his usual nightly habit of announcing "It's a great day for America everybody!" because as he rightly puts it, "It is not a great day in America."
Current State of Affairs
In 2007 began his quest to become a naturalized U.S. citizen by using his show to ask for honorary citizenship from the 50 states. He received multiple honorary citizenships and even was named an admiral in the "Nebraska Navy". On Feburary 1, 2008 Craig was made an American citizen, finally realizing his dream of living in America. It was also during 2008 that he married his current wife Megan, with whom he has a son named Liam.
Craig has announced that he is stepping down as the Late Late Show host and plans to leave in December 2014. (Craig's decision to retire coming just weeks after David Letterman
decided to leave The Late Show
.) There has been some speculation that Craig is leaving after not being offered the job for the Late Show by CBS
, having decided to give the gig to Stephen Colbert
. In an exclusive with Variety
, Craig stated that he was planning on leaving at the beginning of the year and it's because he didn't want the show to feel like a job and he felt it was time to move on to other things. This hasn't done anything to stop the rumors as most still believe his departure is due to being bypassed in favor of Colbert.
American On Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot unabridged audiobook read by Craig Ferguson