Watch 'Craig Ferguson' tonight: Talking black history, slavery, the right and left wings, 'Huckleberry Finn' with Cornel West, plus funk music with George Clinton

Tonight, Craig Ferguson will devote his Late Late Show to Black History Month — specifically, to a long, engrossing conversation with Dr. Cornel West and music by the great George Clinton. It’s “my attempt to know my country better,” says relatively new citizen Ferguson. “One of the advantages of doing a show the network barely knows exists is that I can do whatever the hell I want.”

Ferguson and West engage in a spirited discussion of the history of black oppression and triumph in American history. (“We down in the funk now,” says West at one moment of intense conversation.) Ferguson asks West about the “difference between ‘black’ and ‘African-American,'” and the state of black life in America today.

West is direct. Ferguson asks him what he thinks of a recent reediting of Huckleberry Finn to remove the N-word. West is against it: “That’s an attempt to deodorize the funk of the text,” he says, championing Mark Twain as someone who understood what he was doing in using that word, knowing the vexed complications of writing realistic fiction.

The subject of slavery gives rise to a discussion that includes West’s observation that black people were “enslaved for almost 80 years under the U.S. Constitution. This is something our right-wing brothers, who we love and respect but are just often wrong about a lot of things, can forget.”

There is no more suitable musical guest for this show than George Clinton, who performs “One Nation Under a Groove.” Clinton’s vocal power has dimmed (two male vocalists back him up much of the time), but, he and his band dressed in military-fatigue green, Clinton makes sure the groove is driven in deep.

Don’t miss this tonight.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (82 total) Add your comment
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  • LogopolisMike

    Mr. Ferguson is a perfect example that many Americans could do a lot worse than learn how to be Americans from those who chose to become one, rather than from only those who lucked into it by birth.

    • Jaded

      How exactly do you “learn how to be Americans”??? You either reside here or you don’t.

      • Other Mel

        Plenty of people who “reside here” are completely ignorant of American history and culture. And most of them are American by birth.

      • Jaded

        What exactly is American culture? One of the great things about America is that it is a melting pot of cultures. The only original “culture” of America would be that of Native Americans. Just because one is ignorant of American history does not make them less of an American.

      • SaraLee

        Just because one says one does not make one an intellectual.

      • wolvesinwinter

        You are either American by birth or by becoming a citizen. Being an ignorant American is entirely different. Choosing to be ignorant of the nation’s history (or trying to change i.e. Fox News) is rather sad. Education is looked down in this country. I really detest the use of melting pot. Melting pot is an antiquated term. Melting pot is assimilation. Assimilation is the stripping of one’s identity (i.e.Ellis Island, speak only English). I think this quote says it best:

        “Today the trend is toward multiculturalism, not assimilation. The old ‘melting pot’ metaphor is giving way to new metaphors such as ‘salad bowl’ and ‘mosaic,’ mixtures of various ingredients that keep their individual characteristics. Immigrant populations within the United States are not being blended together in one ‘pot,’ but rather they are transforming American society into a truly multicultural mosaic.”

      • Marc

        The melting pot approach of America is that all become one – American, one language, one culture. Which is why Spanish and French were banned in Louisiana for example (until last 80s – Go CODOFIL, GO LOUISIANA, GO CAJUNS). And as Logopolis Mike says, those who are born in the U.S. sometimes forget their history, the place others played in making U.S. what it is today. They read the constitution and but forget the players and their 2010 reality. Newcomers normally must make a conscious decision of moving to a country and either embraces or turns away (minority I am convinced) from the values. And I think that African-Americans are as Americans as the white European settlers as they are a BIG part of how the country became what it is today-both good and bad (mostly good, no great I am convinced despite Bush-related policies). have a great day.

  • Kiki

    I absolutely love Craig Ferguson. He’s just so goofy! I think it’s a little shocking that he was ever given a show: a nerdy Scottish guy who likes to play with puppets. But I’m so glad they gave him a chance, because he’s such fun to watch. First of all, anything he says in that accent is a little funny. But mostly he just seems genuinely interested and amused by everything he brings on the show, and it’s hilarious.

    • Rick

      Kiki, you are correct about Craig…what he brings to the show is that it isn’t the cookie-cutter formula of monologue, big actor, music, credits (or similar)…Craig is happy to have just one guest if the conversation will be interesting…when Craig asks a question, he actually listens to the answer, which is why his interviews are so engaging…

  • Laura

    If this episode is even half as good as the Archbishop Tutu and Stephen Fry episodes, this will be fantastic. Cornell West is both brilliant and funny and, I believe, will play well with Craig’s sensibilities. Setting my DVR now…

    • another laura

      My sentiments exactly!

  • Meli

    Has a late night talk show ever even approached the subject of Black History Month before? Even in a monologue, much less an entire show? CBS, it’s time to stop dealing the the Problem Child that Charlie Sheen is and start giving his money to Craig Ferguson. At least he’s not an embarrassment to your network (even with vulgar cussing bunny puppets).

    • alexmom22

      That is the most intelligent comment I have ever seen posted anywhere. What is wrong w/ CBS and middle America that they can’t see Craig’s brilliance? C’mon Charlie Sheen?!!! Where is his Peabody Award?

      • Tiffany

        @ alexmon22.
        Get off the ‘middle America’ use. I am from middle America and know that Ferguson won The Peabody for his episode with the Archbishop Tutu. Goes to show, we know more that about Charlie Sheen.

      • RW

        Maybe Middle America just can’t stay up that late.

      • Amber

        I agree completely with Meli. I wonder why you feel the need to even bring up “middle America” in your comment. I live in “middle America”, and I’m even *GASP* a Republican, and I love Craig and abhor Sheen. You know who would never take a cheap shot like yours? Craig Ferguson.

      • deeannek

        I am from middle America and I watch Ferguson nearly every night and I don’t watch Two and a Half Men and I find it very insulting that everytime someone from ( wherever they hell they reside that isn’t middle America) blames us for something being cancelled. You prove that closed minded idiots can reside anywhere.

    • TJ. Church

      Craig rips on Charlie nightly in his monologues!

      As for the article, I loved when Dr. West was on the show before, but have no interest in hearing their opinions on black history.

      • Dawn

        Mr. Church, you should have watched–Dr. West spent a great deal of the time reminding us to be more human, including choosing to be interested in those we marginalize. You also need to learn from Craig to always try to learn more, no matter what the topic. He is an inspiration.

    • iggy

      Sid isn’t vulgar, he’s misunderstood.

    • Lisa

      I second this!

  • John Berggren

    Any opportunity to hear Cornel West speak should be taken advantage of. The man is brilliant and lyrical in his speech.

  • JoeAnn Sause

    I too, wonder about CBS not seeing what a gem Craig Ferguson is. I am 65, and, even though his mouth can be naughty, his brain is brilliant and his comedy hilarious. I am hoping one day I will have the pleasure of attending a taping of Craig’s show. I know tonight’s show will be enlightening and entertaining. I look forward to a possible Emmy show!

    • sarah d

      This is off topic but I LOVE that you are 65 and on this site. We forget that our parents and grandparents aren’t blind to what’s new just because they’re not 21 anymore.

  • Brian

    I’ll second that about Ferguson being a gem. He’s consistently funny, never condescending, and produces quality content that occasionally shames the Big 3. And, surprise surprise, he’s largely ignored by CBS advertising.

    • Fran

      I think he it is a good that he is ignored- he can do what he wants and as long as he can continue to stay on air, let him be ignored and say what he wants!

      • Sarah

        I agree–Craig’s said he’s exactly as famous as he wants to be. He’s got loyal fans but is unknown enough to, like he says, do whatever the hell he wants.

      • Emma

        MG6g3J THX that’s a great answer!

  • Annie

    I think this is really cool! I love his show and am sure this will be really interesting.

  • erin

    OMG, soo excited about this show!

  • Andy G.

    West was brilliant on Colbert a few weeks ago (seriously, look it up. I just about died when he talked about how “Brother Sondheim” was a Blues Man and sang a few bars of “Not While I’m Around”). I’m sure this’ll be a fascinating conversation, as Craig really doesn’t shy away from deep talk.

    • Melissa

      I saw that show and I wished they could have talked longer. It was such an interesting conversation between the two of them. Ferguson always seems deeply interested in what his guests have to say and that interview was no different. Thumbs up for Craig Ferguson. I only watch his late night show.

  • Caryn

    Looking forward to this show. Craig is one of the best interviewers out there. I can watch any show to hear about how an actor got along with so-and-so or how they prepared for a role but only Craig gets people to show a real side of themselves through naughty banter or a go at the mouth organ.

  • Lucy

    I don’t often watch late night TV (not as young as I used to be) but I’ve enjoyed Craig Ferguson whenever I catch him. I really liked his Doctor Who episode and I’ll make sure to record this.

    • Mande

      IJWTS wow! Why can’t I think of tinhgs like that?

    • ojghwifkrk

      V6it0a tenztqxismgz

  • Californian

    actually southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico were rampant with, gasp, Mexicans!, before the white man’s westward expansion and whole sale slaughter of the natives. So to be American really means to be a dead Mexican slaughtered by a white army.

    • veronica

      Excellent point, Californian, and one I rarely see mentioned.

    • Bob

      And Native Americans.

  • jmp528

    Craig is consistently entertaining and funny. He seems proud to be an American and those of us fortunate enough to have been born here are lucky to have him as a fellow citizen!

  • JT

    I wish more networks would choose a host the way CBS did with Ferguson (have a few tryout then narrow down the selection). NBC seems to just pick one and wait years for them to develop (for which Leno never did).

    • Johna

      Or Conan.

      • Hawk

        vbTGC3 Hey, that’s the greatest! So with ll this brain power AWHFY?

      • Lavon

        There’s nothing like the rleief of finding what you’re looking for.

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