reviews in general: craig ferguson on stage

Craig Ferguson, Star Plaza Theater, Merrillville Indiana, 5/29/15

Fans of the late, lamented, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson may want to catch a glimpse of the great comic on stage as his latest tour “Hot and Grumpy: Walking the Earth” comes to a close. If you can find a ticket to one of these last dates, you really should go; if you’ve already seen this show, you know what I’m talking about.

There is one caveat however. This is an indigo blue nightclub show, strictly for adults only. The stuff that gets bleeped on his free TV appearances is only the very beginning: his stage performance ranges from the cheerfully filthy to the fully explicit and is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. In fact, Ferguson promises near the beginning of the show that everybody in the audience is going to be offended at least once, and to judge from the reactions around me, he seemed to keep this promise. Didn’t work for me. But then almost everything that offends me is stupid, and stupid is not something that Ferguson does. He may be a @#$%, but he isn’t ever stupid.

I’m not actually sure what to call this show: it’s stand up comedy, certainly, with elements of social commentary. There’s storytelling (the high point is an extended story about the Rolling Stones that is one of the best live performances of anything I have ever seen), and impressions, and even passages of exaggerated physical movement that could almost be described as dance. The stories and references and gags and subjects pile up and fold over, referencing each other and building up in layers, delightfully clever and complex and extraordinarily vivid. It’s funny as all hell, all the way through, but calling it “comedy” doesn’t so much cheapen the performance as deepen the definition of the word.

There is only one actual joke, and one pantomime horse. And one man alone on a stage for an hour and a half, doing funny walks and talking about random stuff and his own life, and ranting away and calling names and saying lots of very bad words. It isn’t impossible to describe, but it’s impossible to describe well.

Craig Ferguson, as always, highly recommended.

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