Craig Ferguson talks about his NYC show, the election and his boozy first gig
Craig Ferguson likes to do his shows raw.
The Emmy-nominated host of CBS' "Late Late Show" is gearing up for his first New York stand-up performance in more than two years, and his preferred way to prepare is ... well, not to prepare at all.
We caught up with Ferguson, 50, to talk about his unorthodox method of non-prep, how it feels being back in New York, and, of course, the presidential election. (He's not impressed.)
You haven't played New York since Carnegie Hall in 2010. What's it like coming back after so long? You kidding me? I f***ing love playing in New York, it's fantastic. The difficulty is, when you do a show on the West Coast, is putting together a show in Manhattan, 'cause it's a big deal. We've got some extra surprises for Radio City, because it is a special show. Be sure to get there early.
How do you like playing for New York audiences? They're great, they're fantastic. The first time I played in New York, I think actually might have been the first stand up I ever did, it was a the Comic Strip on the Upper East Side, I think, in the 1980s. But I was pretty drunk, so I don't know if it counts. But I lived in New York when I first came to America, and even though I've lived in California for 17 years, I kind of think of myself as a New Yorker.
How have you been preparing for your shows here in New York? If you know about me, you know that I haven't been preparing, so they'll be whatever the hell they are when they turn up. I'm not big on preparing, I like to get a nice surprise when I go out on the stage. .. I really just don't do a lot of prep. Stand-up's about going onstage, being funny and making people laugh. If you can do that, you don't want to overthink it.
What can audiences expect from your Radio City show this weekend? Oh, well, it'll be dirty. There'll be cussing, there'll be very naughty European words for genitals. It'll be a shocking rudefest, not one for the kids. No, but it's all fun.
How has the election been for your material, both for the "Late Late Show" and your stand-up? Are you kidding me? This election is f***ing terrible for comedy. You've got two of the most boring guys ever running for president, it's terrible. ... I was hoping for at least Herman Cain or something, and Palin was great, but this is awful. It's really hard to connect. ... I'd really like to see a campaign where at least one of the candidates was a flamboyantly open transvestite, maybe, or maybe someone who had a mild case of Tourette's, just for the campaign. Nothing too debilitating, and nothing too upsetting. Just a little bit. Just so they could say, "Good evening ladies and - f*** you - gentlemen."
What are you most looking forward to about the Radio City show? Radio City is kind of an archetype New York landmark. So to come and play there, and I got the same vibe doing Carnegie Hall, but Radio City's just huge. I'm just excited about that. The kind of "event" nature of it.
If you go: Craig Ferguson is at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m., 1260 Sixth Ave., 212-307-7171, $40-$80.