When former CBS talk show host Craig Ferguson visits the Honeywell Center in Wabash on November 25, he will come equipped with some Wabash-specific jokes.
Ferguson is doing research on each town he visits on this stand-up comedy tour and crafting regional comedic notions that are designed to be expressed only once.
“It’s kind of a different thing, this tour,” Ferguson told the East Moline Dispatch-Argus. “I made a deal with myself, I never would film this show. It’s not a set script. The show I do in Davenport is not the show I do in Evansville, or New York, or Reykjavík, or Dublin. I wanted to do a show the original way I did stand-up.
“I actually look at the history (of each) place — maybe people who are there don’t even know about,” he said. “That way I keep myself interested in what’s going on ... I don’t want to regurgitate the same stuff. I want to be engaged, be present for it. I want to be the Trader Joe’s of comedy — I’m organic and fresh.”
The seemingly oxymoronic title of the tour is Hobo Fabulous. It perfectly captures who Scottish iconoclast Ferguson really is and what he does.
“What the world needs now more than ever is an aging, unhinged vagrant traveling from place to place ranting nonsense into a microphone,” he said.
On his CBS talk show, Ferguson was notorious for eschewing written material in favor of winging it. He improvised his opening monologues and theatrically tore up his interview notes at the start of each celebrity confab as a symbolic salute to serendipity.
Since he left late night in 2014, Ferguson has hosted a game show and a history show. He starred in a movie with Kathy Lee Gifford.
And he just finished his third autobiographical book called “Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations.” It will be released next year.
“It’s a book of essays strung together, a non-linear kind of memoir,” Ferguson said. “The book actually ends with a fictional story. It could have really happened. It’s unusual; I am really proud of it. I tried to do something different from myself. It’s more anecdotal — it’s not the story of life, it’s the story of some adventures in time, stories which are separate but connected, as opposed to one linear story.”
The title refers to a Sri Lankan elephant encounter.
“It was a pivotal moment in my life, not necessary in the elephant’s life,” he said. “‘Riding the elephant’ is a slang expression used by stoners talking about being foggy and confused. I think it was a good analogy, for life that takes me in any direction. I try and steer it, but my efforts are mixed at best.”
Ferguson said he doesn’t miss late night television. It has changed quite a bit since his heyday, gotten more intensely political.
“I’m not saying people shouldn’t talk about politics or that comedians shouldn’t talk about politics. Of course they should,” he told the Evansville Courier & Press. “But for this particular show, it’s an hour-and-a-half of ‘everybody take a break from that.’”
Ferguson said these live shows are more about “personal things.”
“Either personal things about me … or personal things that involve everybody: love, sex, death, the weather,” he said. “Stuff which happens in life regardless of how you feel the country should be run.”