i flip past jimmy fallon-really fast.
not an unpleasant person, you say. but here's the issue: i'm a craig ferguson junkie-and ferguson and fallon are now late-night talk show host rivals at 12:30 a.m.
ferguson is very different from you, me or anybody. but, hey, remember your first taste of aged goat cheese, or a fudge sundae or when you surprised yourself by laughing aloud while someone made fun of you?
that's craig ferguson, scotsman and new american.
basically, i can't bear the idea of falling asleep five nights a week without his reformed bad-boy, self-mocking, utterly witty, nuanced and intimate conversation. i love his brain. he and his boss, dave letterman, are tv's smartest guys.
ferguson handles the "late-night wars" with understated, sweet aplomb. one night he showed us buckets for the rain leaking into "our so-called studio." later that week, he showed us an empty chair abandoned by his producer because of electric leaks. he urged us to tune in again because rain was expected and with the haywire electricity, we'd get a show with great production values: "take that my late-night competitors who have real bands."
the man totally gets late-night tv. he walks up to the camera and slaps it and says seductively, "come on in, welcome?you look great tonight?it's something you've done to your hair, let it down, swoosh it, you too, ladies." after he says something utterly weird he inhales and says, as if he's holding marijuana in his lungs, "you're welcome, stoners."
and what about his cross-dressing imitation of j. k. rowling hosting her own talk show-he pats a blonde pageboy, laughing helplessly at himself, and in a decorous falsetto says he's richer than anybody and throws dollar bills in the air. or what about his toothy ermine-cloaked prince charles, host of the raaather late show in britain? or his angela lansbury imitation, again in bbc falsetto, "has there been a muuu-der?"
ferguson's an autodidact with pitch-perfect language skills and his monologue, unscripted, is 10 times more entertaining than a new yorker short story. and he means people well. how on this earth did such a person get into my bedroom (at a safe distance of course)?
consistently self-deprecating, ferguson mumbles, "even creeped m'self out there for a minute," before i get that he's just made a bad joke. he dances like a rock star as the network goes to commercial break. he urges us to buy all products advertised on cbs-with wide-eyed, innocent irony.
after ferguson, i go to sleep smiling instead of letting dark thoughts roil my brain, and i also shut down malevolent, self-blaming reviews of my day.
here's proof of how good the man is. i'm a writer, an author, and tv has cut into my business big time, yet i feel blessed to have such high-class entertainment (ferguson's an outrageous lowbrow and a highbrow-the best combo) at the foot of my bed night after night.
if jimmy fallon lays a hand on ferguson, i'll be one angry insomniac. -- susan braudy is the author and journalist whose last book, the boudins and the aristocracy of the left, was nominated for a pulitzer by publisher alfred knopf.