Monday, June 11, 2012

Craig Ferguson, Not Just a Comedian

I don't know if you watch late-night television. You might be a fan of Jay, Dave, Conan, Jimmy or the other Jimmy, but if you want to see one of the funniest and most thought provoking person on TV you need to tune in to Craig Ferguson.

In case you don't know, Craig is a Scottish born comedian/author/talk-show host that immigrated to the United States around 1994. While he had enjoyed modest success in the UK prior to 1994, most people in the U.S. first saw Craig as Nigel Wick on the Drew Carey Show. While I enjoyed the Drew Carey Show, one of the characters I had little use for was Nigel Wick.

In December of 2004 it was announced that Craig would be taking over the Late Late show from then host Craig Kilborn. I was horrified. Not because I was a Kilborn fan, but because I couldn't imagine giving the Scotsman a full hour show of his own. That was until I saw him on it.

Craig has a unique style for TV. He says what's on his mind and while most of the time it is funny if not hilarious, there are times when he is downright profound. He has never hidden his demons, past or present, and I think he gets strength from them.

There are so many times where Craig has shown his humanity on his show. Three of which come to mind.

In January 2006, Craig talked about his father just a day after he passed away. It was the first time I can ever remember being truly touched by what someone on TV said that I actually cried. I remember thinking so much about what my dad meant to me and how at times I hadn't gotten along with him. A little more than two years later, my dad passed away and I was asked to give the eulogy. If it wasn't for what I had seen two years prior, I might not have been able to do justice to my dad, his life, and what he meant to me. Thank you Craig.

The second was in February 2007 when Craig discusses his past and how he wasn't going to make fun anymore of the problems that Britney Spears was having at that time. I've never heard a comedian make any kind of passionate statement like he did then. I could describe it but I wouldn't do it justice. It probably would be better if you watched the video yourself.

In December 2008 Craig's mother passed away. He delivered another touching eulogy and finished that show by talking more about his mother and her favorite song.

His 2009 interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu won him the prestigious Peabody Award for broadcasting excellence in news and entertainment.

Besides being a wonderful person, I wanted to also discuss how much I respect him as an American.

Craig became a naturalized citizen in early 2008. During the July 4th celebration in Boston he was asked to give a speech about being an American. It was very moving and very poignant.

Every show Craig starts by saying, "It's a great day for America!" How many of us natural born Americans have that much enthusiasm for our country every day? I wonder sometimes if those of us who are born here take it too much for granted. By God's grace we had the privilege of being born here. Maybe that is why too often we don't appreciate it as much as we should.

We complain about the people who come here illegally but why? Should we fault people for wanting to work hard to live the American Dream and pass that dream onto their children?

Yes, people should follow the law and should come here the right way, but how many of us would risk everything to try to find a better life for our families if it existed in some other country? That's how this country was founded. Columbus, the pilgrims, and the settlers of the west didn't have permission to go where they went, but they did, in search of better lives.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, has the potential to add or detract to our country and it doesn't matter whether you were born here or immigrated here legally or illegally. I am an optimist and I choose to believe that people will add more good than bad.

Throughout our history, we have fought many wars and conflicts against enemies that despise our way of life, yet we now want to persecute those who so desperately want to live that life that they are willing to risk death either in the rivers or the deserts in order to get a chance to have that life.

I'm not saying that people should break the law and be rewarded with easy citizenship through amnesty. We need to secure our borders and provide a way for all those who want to come here to have the chance, but we also need to be humane about what we are doing with the people who are already here, even if they came here illegally.

Because you never know what wonderful contributions people who come here might make in your life, just like the contributions that Scottish-American makes in mine 5 nights a week.

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