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10 wonderful clips that PROVE Craig Ferguson was robbed of the Letterman gig...

He has a robot skeleton sidekick, a pantomime horse… and a Peabody Award (somehow).

Screengrab: CBS

AS SOON AS veteran US TV host David Letterman confirmed last week that he would be quitting his coveted ‘Late Show’ slot after a 22 year run, it became clear that Stephen Colbert was the man who’d be taking the reigns.

The Comedy Central star, who presents his ‘Colbert Report’ show in character as a blustering right-wing commentator, was being named by various ‘insiders’ as the pre-ordained successor within hours of Letterman’s announcement.

Other names were mentioned along the way of course: Louis CK, Chelsea Handler — and, for some reason way down the list, Craig Ferguson.

The Scottish presenter’s been peddling his unique brand of off-the-cuff comedy and conversation in the slot directly after Letterman for the last nine years or so.

His brand of humour is perhaps a little too oddball, a little too unpredictable for the 11.30pm week-night slot, some commentators have argued. In fact, take a look at pretty much any of the Glasgow comedian’s Youtube clips, and there are plenty of ‘I just don’t get him’ comments.

For what it’s worth, we’re nailing our colours to the mast: while Colbert is, of course, an exciting choice — it would have been nice to see Ferguson take Letterman’s place behind the ‘Late Show’ desk. Even if just to see how he might have developed a show, when given an actual budget.

Since 2005 he’s been doing pretty well broadcasting in the middle of the night to insomniacs and shift-workers, without so much as a house band.

If you haven’t heard of Ferguson till this point — here’s a few clips that give a taste of what you’ve been missing…

Infectious banter with Geoff, the robot skeleton sidekick (this is priceless, stick with it…)

The character, according to Ferguson, is “my metaphor for deconstructing the dead art form of the late night talk show”.


Improvised chats with Jerry, the room service guy…

Josh Robert Thompson, who voices the robot, also contributes a wide array of other voice characters in the show (as we mentioned, it’s a tight budget).


Weird musical ‘cold opens’…

Sometimes with puppets, sometimes without.

(Elad Avron)

The will they/won’t they Kristen Bell thing…

They’re both happily married — but all the same, she seems to be on the show every four weeks or so, for some reason.

(TVs Craig Ferguson 2)

Lesbian row… 

Em… It’s a little difficult to explain. Watch the clip.

(TVs Craig Ferguson 2)

Judging the mood… 

A bit of sharp left turn with this clip — apologies. A sombre opening to the show here, following the 2012 shooting tragedy in Colorado.


Interviewing a heavyweight… 

Ferguson won a prestigious Peabody award for ‘excellence in broadcasting’ for this sit-down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (you’ll find the rest of the clips from the interview on Youtube).


Sobering thoughts…

Ferguson decided not the follow the lead of the other late-night presenters in ridiculing Britney Spears, at the height of her head-shaving crisis.

He explained why with this frank monologue about his battle with alcoholism.


Making it up on the fly…

Late night shows are pre-taped. So you might expect the team to just edit out a segment, if an audience member happened to begin shouting nonsense at Christina Applegate.

Or you could just bring the security guard up on stage for an interview instead…


Awkward pauses…

Sometimes in life, conversations just grind to a halt. So why not make the most of those uncomfortable gaps in the banter?

This Paul McCartney-looks-like-Angela-Lansbury joke…

Asking the production team for a picture of Paul McCartney, only for one of Angela Lansbury to pop up instead — that doesn’t sound like much or a recipe for comedy gold, does it?

For some reason, the fact that the exact same gag is in almost every single show seems to make it all the more hilarious (3.10 in this clip).

(TVs Craig Ferguson)

Over to you, CBS. Surely the ink can’t be dry on Colbert’s contract just yet?

Related: That’s all folks: David Letterman to quit late night next year

Also: Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of The Late Show

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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