It’s a bit of strange one. Look at Ferguson on that front cover. All the font in red, white and blue, the national British colours as adopted by the United States. On his bottom half, wearing a kilt, the Scottish national dress. But it isn’t made of the Ferguson tartan, oh no, it’s in the red, the white and the blue again. The significance of four stars is lost on me, surely it they can’t signify the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. If that were the case, Scotland would the biggest star at the top, the most important one. They are probably just meant to look nice, but they are a bit reminiscent of the flag of China. I’m not really sure that counts as a kilt at all. Maybe it’s just a skirt. On Ferguson’s top half, he is wearing a plain white t-shirt with a black leather jacket, the symbol of rebellion in the 1950s, what Marlon Brando would wear. What is he rebelling against? Whaddaya got?
Ferguson is born in Glasgow, a city renowned for both its substance abuse problems and comedy; it’s probably no coincidence that these appear together. This book is “inspirational” because Ferguson has really problematic alcohol use, as well as taking lots of other drugs, and has a series of failed relationships before coming out the other side a success. Success being defined as living in America, a place he romanticized as a child, being the lead man in a successful television programme and having lots of money.
But this form of success seems to waste the man’s natural talents. He is a stand up comedian who has acted and played in bands. His big break is performing in “The Drew Carey Show”, a sitcom which I had heard of because it had a ride at Disneyland. However, Ferguson has to play an Englishman, an identity he almost defines himself against. Certainly in the book he never refers to himself as British in any capacity. Having never seen the show I don’t know how good his accent is, I have no particular wish to look on YouTube. On the back of this work, he surprisingly became the host of “The Late Late Show”, a highly prestigious role, with him on the telly five nights a week. This year he will be leaving this role, purportedly to be replaced by James Corden. There’s someone even fewer Americans will be familiar with. It’s a brave bet by the network, and I wish him success.
Who let down Craig Ferguson the most, Britain or America? In Britain he can’t take his career further in the way that he would like, in America he isn’t appreciated. He has to compromise, be censored, adapt. He makes a film and detests it and its failure by the end because it has changed out of all recognition. As with anyone who has a team of writers, it is not possible to be entirely sure how much of this book is actually written by the author. However, Ferguson certainly doesn’t hold back in bravely admitting to humiliating situations and drug use. The end of the book has more of its rough corners smoothed off than the beginning. It’s edited to culminate in a triumph, instead it emphasises the oddity of the trajectory of his career.