Exclusive: Craig Ferguson talks about winning the Peabody Award and 'ruffling some feathers' in late-night

The announcement yesterday that Craig Ferguson had won a prestigious Peabody Award for “excellence in broadcasting” came as a big surprise to… Craig Ferguson. “I didn’t know I’d been nominated,” Ferguson told me today. Speaking of the prize that’s been given to TV legends ranging from newsman Edward R. Murrow to first host of The Tonight Show Steve Allen, Ferguson said he was “humbled, which is why I had to have an alligator puppet announce it on the show instead of me. It seemed more seemly that way.”

Was he excited? “Yeah, a bit baffled. My wife was excited… and then I told her about the Peabody!” That Craig — what a joker.

Ferguson won for his Late Late Show interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “I suppose when you have someone who’s as thoughtful and life-changing as Bishop Tutu on, it increases your chances more than if I’d interviewed, say, Mark Harmon, as lovely a man as Mark Harmon is,” he said. “But I’m very mindful of the fact that the next night, my guest was Paris Hilton. You have to keep these things in perspective.”

Perspective is what Ferguson is all about these days. He was recently quoted as saying “I don’t give a f— about the late-night wars… If late-night is a club, I don’t want to be a member.”

“What I meant by that was, I don’t want somebody to lump me in with a whole form of TV that I’m not necessarily a real part of. We do a show that’s on late at night, but it’s not ‘a late-night talk show.’ In fact, with DVRs, we’re probably more a 9:30 a.m. show. I should probably think of Regis as my true competition,” he said, laughing.

“Look: I clearly love what I’m doin’ with this show. But if I was forced by executives to change it up the way Conan seems to have had to change some things [to do The Tonight Show], or the way Jay, of necessity, had to change things to go on at 10 p.m. — I just couldn’t do it. I have to believe in what I’m doing.”

“It always ruffles some feathers among viewers when I try to change things up. You know, at first people hated my puppets, now they get upset if I say I may not have the puppets around as much.

“More than anything I proceed from doubt — doubt about whether a joke is gonna work, or a change in the format is gonna work. But doubt’s a good thing: It keeps you alive and alert.”

This is not the kind of talk you hear from your average talk-show host. I don’t think you’ll hear Chelsea Handler or even Charlie Rose discussing her or his feelings of doubt any time soon.

One thing Ferguson has no doubt about is how “awesome” the unveiling of his “robot skeleton sidekick” is going to be, on next Monday night’s show. Designed by MythBusters master Grant Imahara, it sounds like it’s going to be mightily impressive.

“It will be thinner and more deadly than any other talk-show sidekick in history,” said Ferguson confidently. “All due respect to Andy Richter, but I don’t think he could decapitate a guest the way my robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson will be able to.”

Next Monday, I’ll have an interview with Imahara and more with Ferguson about the sidekick. In the meantime, what do you think about his comments, and the impending robot sidekick?

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  • s

    While it is quite the honor to win a Peabody award, I think it’s a bit odd to be giving this much attention to Craig’s win. After all, Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert have all won Peabodys with less fanfare. Ok, maybe except for Colbert…but his fanfare was satirically self-indulgent.

    • Angryrobotskeleton

      Pathetic troll!! You shall be the first to lose your hesd!!!!!!

      • Angryrobotskeleton

        Uh…”HEAD”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Patti

        If you’re so “angry” and you dislike Craig so much, why do you identify yourself as a “skeleton robot”? Why don’t you just watch Fallon or Lopez instead? No one will miss you.

    • Charles

      Ken Tucker hasn’t been been on their show.

    • Quirky

      Hey, as a huge fan of the Daily Show (and Craig) I remember a huge amount of praise (rightfully) thrown Jon’s way when he won the Peabody. Let Craig and his robot skeleton army have its day too.

      • AngryRobotSkeleton

        Indeed! Let Craig have his fanfare! It’s his due, as A) how many people really watch his show that late? and B) He deserves it! Craig does the most interesting show in late night!!!

    • jenn

      maybe it’s because Craig Ferguson is one of the most under-rated people on television and his fans are ecstatic to see him FINALLY get the recognition he deserves :)

  • sam

    I love the fact that Craig is finally getting the praise and attention that he deserves. He is the funniest and most brilliant guy on TV, late night or otherwise. He is always fresh and original. It is a joy to watch his show, whether it is a serious guest or somebody I really don’t care about (because he makes everybody interesting). Congratulations!

    • Sitiromahajja

      Well, yeah if you take intp the account the ngeernmvot funded project was taking long and didn’t want to try his method, thus causing him to leave and get funds from private corps (which can explain the copyrights, he has to play the game) that oked his shotgun method and did what it took the ngeernmvot years in a matter of months, yeah he’s immoral. However, I do catch your point, knowledge shouldn’t cost but there was a trade off made for quicker progress.

  • Michelle

    Congratulations Craig!!!! The interview with Desmond Tutu was brilliant and a delight to watch. Craig is definitely the most under-rated talent on TV these days and I’m so happy to see him recognized! I also love the fact that he’s a bit of a rebel. :-) Go Craig!

  • elena

    Craig Ferguson deserves all the accolades he can get. I love this man.

  • GROWING PAINS FAN

    Craig is the best late night guy since Carson,
    1. his storytelling is hilarious
    2. his interview technique is BY FAR the best, his guests seem to acutually enjoy being on his show – they don’t rattle off some rehearsed story “funny thing happened to me…” instead he makes them laugh and relax and his interviews are great – check out the one with Carey Mulligan or Ewan McGregor, etc.
    3. He does skits like no one has done in a long time – Angela Lansbury, UK ESPN, J.K. Rowling

    • SteveB

      Oh, he’s far better than the bitter and just plain mean Carson. Ferguson is never mean to people. Carson never went a night wothout being mean to someone just becasue he could.

  • Headless Nekkid Hobo

    Craig makes me proud to be an American!

  • CraigisHOT

    Craig Ferguson is HOT and hilarious!

  • downtown diva

    Great for Craig. I’ll have to make sure I have room on my DVR to record Monday night’s show to see the robot sidekick. That oughta be a great gag.

    • Soso

      Today’s WOD was fantastic! Almost didn’t do it bascuee legs were sore from Tues/Wed. Glad I did bascuee now after I feel less sore and more loosened up. 10:24 ran this puppy w/ steve f and really pushed each other. accidentally mixed up order did run, pullups then HSPU. Now ready to watch Cards push it to game 7!

  • DS9Sisko

    Ferguson is a genius who deserves the accolade.

  • Jeaane

    I think it’s a big deal because it’s the only award his show has ever won, and it’s an incredibly prestigious one. His ratings are almost never as good as the other shows in his time slot and it doesn’t get as much buzz as them either. For a show that features puppets and a dude in leather bondage shorts on a regular basis to win a Peabody is a big damn deal.

    Craig can be serious when needs be, and the Desmond Tutu interview is the best example. He’s an intelligent and thoughtful interviewer and he so deserves any award he gets.

    • Dan

      Run: 1.16km, 1.32km, 1.45kmGoats: Better running form, cotlepme Disney coast-to-coast challenge with my wife, not only cotlepme but have fun doing a half ironman in July and a full one in Nov of next year. Be a better father and husband.

  • smjump

    Craig is the best. He brings out the best in guests who can keep up with him and aren’t afraid to be themselves. And what other host would have on Jonathan Dancy, a moral philosophist, on the same show as Robin Williams? No one else could make that transisition like Craig Ferguson.

    • April

      That was the best show EVER!! loved Robin Williams, and Jonathan Dancy ahahah :)

      • Yenie

        GB and I have been CFing since late ’08 early ’09. His box is in Corpus Cristi, TX now but we used our base’s globo gym when we were stationed totgeher in Lemoore. Last I checked he doesn’t really follow CFE. I could be wrong as I haven’t checked with him on it in a bit. I do know that he is adimently(sp) against LSD and gave me a stern talking to once about saying I was logging miles for a marathon.

  • onecheer

    I was so happy to hear about Craig’s Peabody. This is a guy who plays the clown every night, but when he gets serious, he’s dead on. He makes me laugh out loud, but then he has a night like the Desmond Tutu interview, and I spend the next day thinking “wow.” He takes chances, and absolutely has made this show his own. I’m crazy glad he’s getting recognition for it.

  • Don

    Craig is the best thing to happen to TV comedy/interview shows in years. Original, well-read, quick, and very, very funny. Oh, without prompting from script boards too.

  • EaselEd

    Craig has a show based on minimums. A minimum investment for the set, no band, no supporting cast, puppets at cost, and a producer who smiles a lot. Guests appear (maybe), and last only as long as Craig feels comfortable with what’s going on, and then at times he is forced to create a silent pause instead of boring the audience any further. He liberally makes fun of himself (a former drugee and alcoholic), and drinks from a snake ceramic cup. He does an hour and a half by HIMSELF, and when the show ends you wish he had at least another half hour more. The guy is a comic genius.

    • Val

      *applause* Exactly.

      • Richard S

        No Applause, Hobos!

    • Roza

      Greg,The current price of the boat with all the strndaad equipment, lying Factory ready for shipping is $889,000. As the building keeps progressing we are tweaking a few details of the boat and the equipment so the price may change but we hope to keep it where it is. The price is found at the bottom of the page labeled Specifications Pricing under the Specifications tab.

  • Amused

    LOVE Craig and The Late Late Show! Name any host (news or entertainment) who can sit there and interview anyone without ANY notes. He does that every night. His most impressive turns were with Desmond Tutu (for which he won the Peabody) and with Stephen Fry. His inventiveness and unwillingness to settle for the status quo is why his Robot Skeleton Army is so devoted. Who else does so much with so little for so many? The man is simply the best.

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