Here's the most underreported story in late-night comedy news: While Letterman fended off scandal, Conan and Leno squabbled, and Kimmel threw himself into the fray in a plea for attention, Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson kept calmly commanding perhaps the best after-hours talk show on network TV. The Scottish-born actor first found success in America with his turn as the buoyantly sadistic boss on The Drew Carey Show. When former host Craig Kilborn stepped down from The Late Late Show, CBS auditioned for a replacement for several months, eventually (and smartly) choosing Ferguson, who proved adroit and amiable in interviews but garnered big attention for his free-flowing, improv-heavy opening monologues. Those easygoing segments draw as much inspiration from across-the-pond storytelling traditions and the lyrical humor of countryman Billy Connolly as from the gag-driven, setup-and-punch shtick beaten to death by the likes of Leno. He's since gone on to multimedia success, penning a bestselling memoir, American on Purpose, releasing a 2008 standup DVD, Wee Bit o'Revolution, and most recently lending his voice to the computer-animated movie How to Train Your Dragon. Since the monologues are usually the best part of Ferguson's show, his appearances this week doing standup at the State Theater should be like a big bowl of chocolate frosting with none of that annoying cake to get in the way.
Fri., April 30, 7:30 & 10 p.m., 2010