Because we can’t have nice things and because life is nothing but a series of searing disappointments, Craig Ferguson on Monday announced that he’ll be stepping down as the host of CBS’ The Late Late Show.
Following the lead of his late-night running mate, David Letterman, Ferguson broke the news to his studio audience during the taping of tonight’s program.
“CBS and I are not getting divorced, we are ‘consciously uncoupling,’” Ferguson cracked. “But we will still spend holidays together and share custody of the fake horse and robot skeleton, both of whom we love very much.”
Ferguson will leave the show in December. His brief announcement can be seen here.
The antic Scotsman has hosted The Late Late Show for the last 10 years, in which time he has established himself as the single most inspired interview on the circuit. Ferguson is also delightfully inventive, crafting elaborate jokes at the network’s expense. (For example, the solution to CBS’ parsimonious refusal to supply Ferguson with a sidekick and/or house band was to commission the creation of Geoff Peterson, the aforementioned robot skeleton.)
Having re-upped with CBS in April 2012, Ferguson’s contract was set to expire at the end of the broadcast season. It would appear, however, that CBS has offered him a brief extension, so that he might have ample time to put together a proper send-off. (Obviously, the extra time also allows the network to make a much more exhaustive search for Ferguson’s replacement—although, then again, it didn’t take long to identify the new host of the 11:30 show.)
Both parties intimated that it was Ferguson’s decision to move on.
“During his 10 years as host, Craig has elevated CBS to new creative and competitive heights at 12:30,” said Nina Tassler, chairman, CBS Entertainment. “He infused the broadcast with tremendous energy, unique comedy, insightful interviews and some of the most heartfelt monologues seen on television.”
Indeed, Ferguson was often at his best when the mood of the nation called for a less whimsical show. In July 2012, in the wake of the shootings at a Colorado multiplex, Ferguson delivered a particularly moving opening salvo.
“If you are watching in Denver, or in Aurora I should say, and if you are any way connected to this awful business, I’m sorry,” Ferguson said. “I’m sorry that happened. I know it’s just awful, and my thoughts and my sympathies go to the families and to the people who were there. And just remember that we are all diminished by this. Every time something like this happens, we are all diminished by it.”
Ferguson also spoke eloquently about the death of his father, the Boston Marathon bombing and the unbridled pride he experienced upon obtaining his U.S. citizenship in 2008.
While Letterman is hanging it up for good, Tassler was quick to point out that Ferguson’s versatilte talents “speak to his great days ahead.”
In the near term, the writer/performer has already secured a new gig, signing on to host the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game, which is slated to launch on Tribune Broadcasting stations this fall. He also plans to develop future TV projects through his production company, Green Mountain West.
Ferguson succeeded the Sultan of Snark, Craig Kilborn, as the Late Late Show host in January 2005. (Kilborn had served as the original host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show before he was replaced by Jon Stewart in 1999.) The Late Late Show was originally developed in 1995 by Letterman and founding host Tom Snyder.