Once in a while you get an interview on a late show, or a very late show, where people just talk, laugh out loud, say stupid things and laugh some more, without worrying about self-image, talking points and faux-pas.
Philip Seymour Hoffman gave such an interview in 2011.
The Late Late Show.
The wicked prodigal son of Scotland, and now US citizen, Craig Ferguson.
It was a breeze of fresh air.
You may wonder, what does Ferguson’s nationality have to do with anything?
For years [Ferguson] battled with alcoholism, about which he went public in an inspiring confession on the air
The answer is, Craig Ferguson is the classic outsider. The Stranger who made it out of the proverbial desert. For years he battled with alcoholism, about which he went public in an inspiring confession on the air.
He also tried to make it in the movie and sitcom industry, and failed on both counts. But he didn’t give in. He beat his addiction demons and kept doing what he loved best — entertaining people — eventually getting the opportunity to host one of the late late shows, where his acerbic and wicked style of social commentary found its niche.
It wasn’t easy. You don’t get to host that kind of a show in the US if you’re not from there.
But Ferguson did it. He got accepted by the finicky audience and landed his own airtime.
His follow up act was even more spectacular. He won over the federal government, receiving full citizenship.
The edgy outsider was officially let in.
But he never let go of his outside-looking-in perspective. It was what gave him his edge, and he wisely stuck to it, refraining from going completely native.
His show has over the years retained a rare amount of honesty, heavily disguised as it may be. It comes in the form of jabs and ‘hey, fancy-that!’ moments, which nevertheless resonate with audiences in the US and beyond.
Ferguson is obviously not your average late-night household brand. He’s a firebrand with the ability to make people laugh while they think, and vice versa.
When you listen closely, you can sense the conflict brewing inside him, the admission that he knows what he’s doing is kind of a charade. (‘And the Oscar for best puppet on TV goes to…’)
Yet he does it anyway, and does it well, because it seems to work. Because it seems to make a difference, at least in the late-night entertainment business.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a man wrestling with his own addiction demons … simply went along with the gags during the ten minutes he sat there
No wonder another stranger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, a man wrestling with his own addiction demons, an outsider roaming in a world of pretension and charades, simply went along with the gags during the ten minutes he sat there with him. He just talked and laughed and surrendered himself to the Ferguson wickedness (seriously, when have you seen an actor, an American actor at that, laugh out loud like that?) reminding everyone that entertainment is more than just a business. It’s about people losing themselves in the madness of the moment, providing an escape not just for others but also for themselves.
From the bays of Pearl Coast,
Fish a ton of oysters, strike a shiny pearl.