Charlie Sheen, late-night tragedy: Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon show some compassion: VIDEO

It takes a strong late-night host to resist doing Charlie Sheen jokes, and that man is Craig Ferguson. He announced  earlier this week that he wouldn’t be doing any Sheen-is-crazy humor.

Ferguson has a greater frame of cultural reference than the other hosts, and he reached back to the ancient London hospital that gave us the term “bedlam” — a choice word for the media frenzy surrounding Sheen, but, to Ferguson’s point, an example of a place where mental patients were ridiculed by the public.

As Ferguson noted, you know things are getting serious when a late-night host says such a ripe target should probably be left alone, but that’s the kind of guy Ferguson is: He takes his ridicule elsewhere, to those in control and power, rather than those who are losing control and power.

On the other hand, if you are going to make a Charlie Sheen joke, Ferguson’s friendly rival, Jimmy Fallon, managed  to do it in a subtle way. His parody of Sheen doing an ad for a fragrance called Winning was excellent because (a) the impression was dead-on, and (b) although it had punchlines, there was a strong undercurrent of understanding, of capturing just how pathetic Sheen has become.

This was a critique of Sheen humor itself.

Bravo to both men.

What say you?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (130 total) Add your comment
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  • Brit

    I heart Jimmy Fallon!

    • Anya

      Totally agree. Jimmy is great. I wonder if RPatz will be bothered by this.

      • Alex


      • Dippidy doo

        fallon sucks, ferguson is THE man!!

      • Tall Amy

        So funny and brilliant and TallPeopleMeet was amazing

    • Bluto

      “I took a LOT of Charlie Sheen.”

    • JaySin420

      Yea Jimmy’s show is hysterical, and it’s the only late night show that actually mixes things up.

      • Dippidy doo

        mixes things up? That is the saddest comment – watch Ferguson, now that is mixing it up (a robot sidekick, Noble prize winners, puppet shows, actual conversations with guests who sometimes forget to plug their stuff) Fallon on the other hand is a tool of NBC

    • meliot

      Both Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon are the best of late night TV. Craig is compassionate and funny; and Jimmy is just funny. I applaud both, but Craig has my respect. It really is time for someone in the media to step up and say enough is enough – get Charlie some help.

      • Carla

        I agree with Meliot. Fallon and Ferguson are the best, and Fallon is very entertaining. Ferguson continues to have my respect, though, as when it comes to people in show business with principles, he really is the lone man standing.

      • Marizol

        You may b allergic to it. I took it and had the same raeoticn. Went back to the Dr and had to get a shot to relieve the itching. Does your throat feel as if it’s tight or your tongue feel as if it’s swelling? If yes then you are allergic and do not take any more!! Go see your doctor!

    • DDKillerBlondie

      I LOVE FALLON!!!! AWESOME work

    • CourtyC001

      5:30 ALL TRANNYS! ! ! !

  • Sven

    Ferguson did the same thing with Britney Spears a few years back, so I am not surprised he has taken this admirable stance.

    • Jane

      Ferguson has to take the high road. He’s fought off his drinking demons and it would make him a hypocrite to make fun of someone who is currently struggling with addiction. However, he’s a classy guy anyway.

      • ChaCha

        Amen to that!

      • levelheaded

        @jane, I agree with your comment, but I wonder when has being a hypocrit ever stopped someone from capitalizing on another’s misfortune in Hollywood?

        I think that is why Ferguson seems so classy to me, I don’t think it’s just about his image, I think he does it from a place of good intentions for others. Of course, I don’t know him, so this is all just theory.

      • cjsamms

        Actually, he has a choice. There are hypocrites everywhere. That’s what makes him different. He made a different choice.

    • Mouhmmad

      Second comment! ;pI’m from the UK and i find him iafcsnating! There’s just something about him, his charisma, etc etc.We all know he’s ; bad to the Bone but we love him for it!He doesn’t take life too seriously, and despite getting into all types of scrapes, he’s still quite cool.Got to hand it to him, the Mans a LEGEND!

  • znachki

    Craig Ferguson is a class act. He showed that when he told everyone that he wasn’t going to poke fun at Britney Spears when she had her meltdown.

  • DreamyK

    Charlie won’t get the irony of Fallon, he will just rack it up to his magnetic duh, winning fire breathing fists carpet bombing Hollywood.

  • livingthesheen

    What’s your favorite Charlie Sheen quote? See them all on

  • lucy

    BRilliant. Never watched this guy’s show but maybe I will, he’s intelligent.

    • Dicazi


      • bewilderednineteen

        I agree.

  • rsm

    isn’t ferguson the one who is misogynistic – fires female employees after he sexually harasses them? if so, i’m not surprised he’s team sheen.

    • alec

      No, he’s the one that is now in his 18th year of sobriety.

      • calistoga

        (@rsm – You’re on Team Idiots!)
        Letterman didn’t harass them… They were waiting in line.
        Kudos to Ferguson. He’s a class act. Maybe if we keep pulling in Brits and Aussies, some of the class will rub off.
        My sincerest prayers for Charlie’s children and his parents. No one should have to bear this burden the rest of their lives, and his parents and children will be doing just that!! Shame on you who have crossed the line of decency!!

    • PJL

      That’s his boss Letterman. As far as I know there’s never been that kind of talk about Craig.

      • alec

        You are right, it is Letterman. Craig has targeted Charlie Sheen in the past, he’s just saying that what is currently going on is not fair game. I agree.

      • rsm

        thanks for the info. must have been confused by the connection between them.

        as far as the idea that we “as a society shouldn’t consider it funny when someone has a breakdown” – i think it’s interesting to hear where comedians draw the line. there are plenty of cases where comedians salivate at the public meltdown of the celebrity. look at britney spears years ago and lindsey lohan now. i mean, if we should all be feeling sorry for charlie sheen right now, what about lohan, as it seems fairly clear that she is also an addict suffering – yet everybody seems to bask in the entertainment of her misfortune.
        so what’s the difference?

      • alec

        No worries. You should check out the clip of Craig speaking on Britney Spears a few years back.

      • msr

        jesus rsm, are you just now discovering the concept of schadenfreude? You’re either an idiot, or you’re doing some high-concept trolling. Either way, STFU.

      • Margo

        the difference is that Sheen & Spears have mental problems. Craig also stopped doing jokes about Britney Spears when it was clear she had a mental problem.
        Lohan is a self-centered, spoiled girl who likes to party. There hasn’t been evidence of a mental problem with Lohan, but rather a lack of self-control.

      • Matt Pa

        Did anyone notice that pretty much all the jokes about Brittany stopped after Craig Ferguson’s famous monologue about her? I get the feeling that Craig is the respected one amongst the late night comedians.

      • Felipe

        Love how you describe the parts of luoserves we keep hidden from others and avoid looking at luoserves. Great to see you quoted in this article. You use great analogies. I wish there had been room to advise folks on how to work with those scared 6 year-old parts of us which I know you teach so well.

    • katnap

      The point isn’t that he’s on Charlie Sheen’s side – the point is that, as a society, we shouldn’t consider it funny when someone has a breakdown, even if they behave like clowns when they do it. We should be above being entertained by the misfortunes of others.

      • Pantiwa

        Dear Ava,I don’t know you in person but my prisit been touched by you. You are a beautiful little girl who has such a long, great life ahead of you. You have the face of an Angel and your most certainly a true gift from God. I live near the location where you were hit in your Mommys car and your beautiful little soul has touched many of our hearts in the community.Keep holding on Ava, with all of the strength you have and when your ready to take on the world, open those pretty eyes and give your Mommy and Daddy that beautiful smile that they’ve been longing to see. God is not done working His miracles just yet but when He is, you will be healthier than ever as we all claim both internal and external healing in the name of Jesus from the top of your head, to the souls of your feet by the Stripes of Jesus and we declare in Jesus name for you to rise up baby girl and open them gorgeous eyes. In the name of Jesus we thank you Lord for Ava’s miracle to be manifested now, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN<3

    • rsm

      okay, why don’t you look up charlie’s goddess on twitter (bree olson) and tell me who has crossed the lines of decency.

      team idiot? okay. good one.

      • jes

        rsm i agree with you. charlie sheen is throwing himself in everyones face spewing venom and hate as fast as he can. I am not sure why everyone suddenly feels the need to defend him. why isn’t anyone sticking up for chuck lorre or the cast of his show or his poor ex wife. this misogynist, egomaniac is a slap in the face to not only women but any women that has been abused. also everyone hard working recovering addict and basically just about anyone who isn’t so much of an awesome rockstar with a mansion that they could be capable of understanding his superior mind. I feel sorry for all the people this jerk is going to continue hurting because people are so willing to be understanding of such an unrepentantly vicious worldview. It is not okay to act that way and people need to stop pretending it is. what kind of message is that sending other than you can be any sort of disgusting violent pig you want to be and it is alright as long as you are rich and famous. and you know what ted bundy and charlie manson had a mental disease too but that doesn’t make what they did okay either.

      • SueN

        @rsm – You are an idiot. Who gets Craig Ferguson mixed up with David Letterman??

    • Amber

      rsm, Craig drew the line with Britney Spears when she had her melt down, too, so it’s not just Charlie.

      • rsm

        i didn’t know that. that is refreshing to hear.

      • alec

        You can watch his commentary about Spears on youtube. It was really moving.

    • sam

      No. Craig is a gentleman and a husband and father of two boys. Your post is insulting and mistaken. You should check your facts before making accusations.

      • DT

        I don’t think rsm was making an accusation, but was merely confused. I think that you’re the one making the unfair accusation.

    • chiklogic

      As others have hastened to point out that was Letterman. Not only does he put out a quality show every night, with an amazing variety of guests, he also is probably the best interviewer going, drawing his guests out in unique and informative ways. The truth is that Ferguson appears to be one of the few good guys in the crummy business of show biz, and his equally talented, accomplished sister writes for his show as well. Check out his books and movies…really fine stuff.

  • alec

    Craig is always a class act. I admire him greatly and have been a fan for a long time.

  • Dicazi

    While I admire Craig for taking the high road, his analogy with Bedlam fails. Sheen is putting himself on display AND he collects the pennies, or at least gives them away to the various media outlets.

    • madduxfan

      good point.

    • Sterling

      Actually, the only thing that fails here is your analysis of Craig’s analogy.
      Craig is saying that Sheen is mentally ill, and the general public is gawking at Sheen as if mental illness is a source of entertainment. Craig is saying that this is wrong.
      Whether or not Sheen is inviting attention is irrelevant. If Sheen is mentally ill, it is unlikely he comprehends how self-destructive his current behavior is.
      In effect, we are aiding Sheen’s self-destruction by paying attention to him. It’s like giving drinks to an alcoholic because we think he is a “funny” drunk – which is my analogy, so if you find fault in it, blame me not Craig… :)

      • Dicazi

        I’m praising Craig, but the Bedlam inmates had no choice in their exploitation. Sheen does. He’s been clean in the past and he has to know what happens when he starts drinking and drugging again.

      • Dicazi

        And he put his twin sons on display while the police were taking them from his custody. Think that tabloid wasn’t paying him for access??

    • Niix Starkyller

      No, his Bedlam analogy is, in fact, spot on. Someone suffering that kind of mania is hardly responsible (in the strictest sense) for putting himself on display. Charlie does not “put himself on display” so much as he is compelled by his lunacy.

      • Alexia

        Exactly! As soon as I heard that he’d passed those drug tests, I thought that the most likely cause for his behavior is a manic episode. Mental illness isn’t funny, and admire Craig when he draws the line when celebrities begin to show signs of it.

      • Kiki

        Except that drug addiction doesn’t actually turn someone racist or sexist… When Sheen makes anti-Semitic comments or talks about disposable, worthless women, that’s not the drugs talking…that’s the drugs freeing him from caution to say what he really thinks. And that’s why I despise him.

      • Mathieu

        Kiki – Addiction might not make someone say offensive things, but severe mental illness certainly could. The man is clearly not well, and the drugs vs insanity argument is kind of a ‘chicken or the egg?’ situation, I’d say. That aside, whether his comments were intended to be anti-semitic or not is still open to interpretation. His assertion that he wanted to address Lorre directly rather than the cutesy TV persona he has assiduously crafted for himself via his vanity cards is almost plausible, when you see that Lorre himself questioned his own identity and referred to his ‘real’ name in print himself. Ultimately, Lorre and the network have done the right thing in trying to force Sheen into seeking help before he kills himself or someone else, but Sheen, as an addict in denial, as done the predictable thing by lashing out at the mere suggestion he has a problem. He might be obscenely rich, but I have nothing but pity for the man.

    • rio

      the media outlets “interviewing” him and recounting his mania are collecting more than pennies. They should have some sort of integrity instead of making bucks off someone who is mentally ill.

      • Needs Repeating

        Once again – there is no bad publicity. They were talking about his bankability on the morning talk shows today. Go figure. We love a train/car wreck don’t we? And we will support him after he falls. By the way, who the heck watches his show? No one that I know – but I bet the ratings go up even further just so people can look for signsof mental instability in his “acting”.

  • Crystal

    If you look askew at the Jimmy Fallon clip he really even looks like Sheen . . . it’s freaky!

    • Trey

      I know! He’s got look, the voice and the mannerisms down pat.

  • Christie

    Ferguson has always been very up-front about his own addictions–and his recovery. He eventually realized he had a problem and got help but you have to wonder if Sheen will ever be that bold.

    • ChaCha

      It’s not a matter of boldness, getting clean and SOBER, so much as it’s an act of desperation (been there, done that myself). Charlie isn’t sick and tired of being sick and tired yet, and if he truly is in a manic espisode, then his boldness is just going to stay terribly, horribly skewed.

      • Cipto

        George and Ann Marie, We are Keely’s parents. Haven’t seen you since the bowl game in New Orleans, but have kept up with you rtuohgh her. After watching you play VT ball and make unbelievable plays, we know you are a man of determination and courage. So we know Ava has great genes to fight with. After seeing pix of Ann Marie, we know where Ava gets her good looks:) We wish we could just wave a magic wand and make this all go away. Our hearts are with you every minute of every day, as are our prayers for Ava and you both. We know first hand that J. H. is a great hospital. May God keep you all in His arms. Much love is coming your way. Alfred and Linda

      • Isabel

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  • jmcg

    I am so sick of the constant EW sheen coverage. Sheen is a pitiful/pitiable figure who’s using the vapid media that’s allowing itself to be used. Its so unseemly. Besides, the best part of Ferguson last night was the banter between him and Hugh Laurie. I love those two together!

    • Cris

      Hey moron, maybe if YOU weren’t so “vapid” and stopped allowing YOURself to keep clicking on these stories, they’d STOP. It’s the law of supply and demand. If you stop watching the shows covering Charlie Sheen, and stop clicking on the links and posting comments, they’ll stop the coverage.
      Quit blaming the media for your own habits. The media gives you what YOU want.

    • Jo

      I disagree that the media is allowing itself to be used. They are actively pursuing him. They are drooling over every chance to put him on TV and it even looks like he’s got them on speed dial. That Today show interview after his kids were taken was done while it was still dark outside! So how quick did NBC get there to do the interview?

  • Jennie

    I love you Jimmy Fallon!

    • Jeremy DC

      Fallon did a good impression but he still isn’t funny.

  • ben

    Congratulations. That was the best non-SNL sketch of the year. Bravo Jimmy.

  • Kelly Mack

    That Fallon clip was hilarious but I fail to see how it was empathetic or had strong undercurrents of understanding.

    • Dawn

      Mr. Mack…I agree with you–how was that Fallon clip mocking Sheen in any way “compassionate”? I have the deepest respect for Mr. Ferguson. There is one interview he did a while back when he made a remark about the importance of knowing when something is NOT funny. Sheen is NOT funny. I have also seen Craig apologize on air when he finds out something he said might have offended.
      I wish there were an award show for most charm, wit, intelligence, creativity, and class. Thus far there would be only one nominee: Mr. Ferguson.

    • Nadine


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