Live Performance Review
Show: Craig Ferguson
Venue: Massey Hall
Where: Toronto, Ontario
When: April 23, 2010
I am a member of the Robot Skeleton Army. I’m not a t-shirt-wearing member, but I am one all the same. For those of you who are thinking, “WTF?!” This means I’m a faithful follower of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and follow @CraigyFerg on Twitter (check da tweets!) along with his legion of hollowed-out volcano dwellers. Last night I had the almost phantasmagorical pleasure of attending Craig’s 9:30 p.m. stand-up comedy show at Massey Hall in Toronto. Eight hours after I crashed last night, my face still aches from laughing, and my retinas are still burning from seeing him in tight white jeans, a blue t-shirt and a black leather jacket.
My friend Teresa and I arrived in Toronto before 6:00 p.m., in time to join the line-up of die-hard fans gathered around the stage door of
Massey Hall on Victoria Street, waiting for a glimpse of Craig and hoping to hit pay dirt by getting him to autograph their copies of American On Purpose and pose for a photo with them. Teresa humoured me, and we united with them and stood there for almost an hour, praying for the same opportunity. I met some incredibly sweet and dedicated young fans who, throughout the evening, must have waited for him for four hours, only to have him slip out a different exit and escape without talking to them. I’m not that dedicated, but then again, I’m forty-six years old and tired; but I have to say that my heart broke a little for them. Bekah was wearing her Robot Skeleton Army t-shirt and holding a Wavy the crocodile puppet (which I coveted). Her friends clasped their copies of American on Purpose to their chests and waited patiently. I also met a lovely woman of my own age who came from St. Catharine’s by herself, courtesy of her husband’s birthday gift to her, and told me that Craig read her email on the show. Fans certainly know the significance of that!
The all-ages audience crammed themselves into the atrocious, eighteen-inch, dirty, torn seats at the once glorious Massey Hall and was treated to an unparalleled evening of jocularity.
Ferguson’s regular warm-up man, Randy Kagan, opened the show with his own intro, singing Craig’s praises. “Craig’s a great guy, but the bastard forced me to get sober!” Kagan admitted to being a weed addict who got stoned every day for the past twenty years and commented that it was ironic that he was now in Canada, a country with a leaf on its flag, and he couldn’t get high. After ninety-two days of sobriety, he seemed to struggle to find his comfort zone with the audience, consulting note cards left on a stool to keep him on track. He was hilarious for
much of his act, which covered bits about women with all their piercings and orifices; his attraction for grandmas; his girlfriend’s Feng Shui habit (“gullible round eye”), making him feel like he’s paying a lot of “pussy tax,” and the trials of being “fame adjacent.” He declared that while Craig goes for expensive Swedish massages, he can’t afford them, so he has a German massage instead: “a kick in the balls and a strudel.” He also riffed about gays and the fact that they should have their own state as well as sex and midgets and other somewhat off-colour topics. He sometimes pushed the taste envelope just a bit too far, and the audience didn’t know whether to laugh or moan. This is, after all, CANADA, and we are very polite, multicultural and tolerant here (but we don’t actually eat only bacon and maple syrup).
Next up, Chris Saladin pranced onto the stage wearing his leather S&M outfit from the show while playing the flute. He was followed by a saxophone-touting Jeff Arnold, and then Craig joined them for a bit of lip-synching song and dance before announcing, “It’s a great day for Canada, everybody!”
Craig immediately questioned his decision to wear white jeans, claiming that he looked like a gay painter and then quickly instigated his cuss-happy routine while proclaiming that there would be no “ooh la las” censoring him tonight.
He talked about his love of Canada and cussing, the strange heavy metal band called Stag that he was in when he was fifteen that was so uncool it had a clarinet player (him), and his son following him around the house with a swear jar. He compared his own sex education in Scotland (a Scottish gynecologist won’t even talk about sex!) to his nine-year-old son’s and admitted that he’s very old-fashioned about sex and then went on to revisit the glee in being a late-night talk show host whose job it is to joke about Hollywood sex scandals.
Craig covered Tiger Woods, Kevin Costner, and David Letterman (“David, you just had open heart surgery, and you’re banging the staff? You magnificent bastard!”) before changing the subject to Hollywood egos and why Kate Winslet will never be on his show. Finally, he revisited the famous Fabio goose incident and declared that he could prove the existence of God: Sigfried and Roy! Two gay, Austrian, lion tamers who meet and fall in love….” What are the odds of that?!”
From the dangers of sex tapes to why he loves Larry King—“…because he doesn’t give a fuck! He’ll look you in the eye, fart, and doesn’t even break eye contact!”—to the miracle that is ninety-one-year-old Andy Rooney, Googling himself, his psychic parents, and the three questions one should consider before posting crap on the internet that took him three marriages to learn to ask: “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now?”
The show ended far too soon, in my opinion (or was it just the fact that time flies when you’re laughing until your face aches?) with a merriment-inducing reenactment by Ferguson, Saladin and Arnold of the infamous Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” lip-synching number on the LLS. Sadly, no amount of cries of don’t go could bring Ferguson back for more.
Craig Ferguson’s stand-up is often repetitive to his LLS monologues but much spicier without the censors. His energy and charm are so electrifying that you can’t take your eyes off him. There’s a good reason he’s the King of late-night television, and everyone who saw his shows in Toronto knows precisely why.