Friday, Feb. 22 night, "The Late Late Show"'s Craig Ferguson appeared at the elegant Pabst Theater in Milwaukee to kick the weekend off right with some standup comedy. This sold-out show had a surprisingly wide range of audience members from old to young though, fortunately, the vast majority were over 21, as the show is far less PG than the late night talk show.
"The Late Late Show" costar and voice of "gay robot skeleton" (aka Geoff Peterson), Josh Robert Thompson, opened for Ferguson starting at 7 p.m. He informed the sold-out audience that, while he is also a stand-up comedian, he is doubles as a voice actor. Thompson's spot-on impressions include the likes of Morgan Freeman, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neeson, Regis Philbin, and Robert DeNiro. Thompson is truly an exceptional voice actor, though audience members should be forewarned that, much like the rest of the show, there is a fair amount of adult humor associated with his impressions.
After about a half hour of incredibly accurate impressions, Craig Ferguson took the stage before an ecstatic Milwaukee audience. As is expected from any non-Wisconsinite, Ferguson began with ardent complaints about the cold Wisconsin winter stating,
Wisconsin: the state that makes Scotland look like Hawaii.
There were other amusing jokes catered to the Midwest with other references to Milwaukee and Piggly Wiggly.
The essence of the evening, however, was drug and sex humor...with a few jokes at Hitler's expense as well. Ferguson followed a Nazi joke explaining, "Nazis are an excellent tool for comedians because nobody cares if you make fun of a Nazi!" He went on to explain his philosophy on comedy and appreciation for those who do not take offense to a joke, realizing that it is a meaningless joke and nothing more.
Ferguson found surprising ways to loop his comedy back to previous jokes. He spent some time referencing celebrities, either his personal friends such as Gerard Butler or tabloid targets such as Angelina Jolie, and still managed to circle back to Hitler saying,
Calling Angelina Jolie a husband stealer is like calling Hitler a vegetarian. It's true, but that's hardly the story!
However, the vast majority of the evening consisted of drug and sex jokes, sometimes combined. Ferguson is not shy about sharing stories on his drug-addled past. Now sober and drug-free, he had many anecdotes of the lengths to which he would get drunk or addicted, often comparing it to what people now consider to be addiction. The content ranged from alcohol to cocaine to sex addiction, which was, by far, the underlying spirit of his comedy.
While Ferguson certainly slips his share of innuendo in "The Late Late Show", he prefaced his standup by warning audiences that they shouldn't expect to "see any flag pop up over his mouth". He managed to slip sex jokes into everything from shark week to history, and the audience loved it. The great thing about Ferguson's comedy is that he manages to slip his jokes in unexpectedly, with subtle innuendo or sex jokes occurring when audiences don't anticipate it.
Something that one doesn't have to deal with as a talk show host, but does as a standup comedian is hecklers. Ferguson is far from notoriously known for insensitive comments or due for heckling, though he handled what little heckling occurred beautifully. Any boisterous audience member would quickly receive a comment such as "It's not a TV, I can hear you!" or "Tweet me, I'll ignore it later."
The evening concluded with both Ferguson and Thompson showing their improvisation skills by acting out a bit of "The Late Late Show" dialogue between Geoff Peterson and Craig, referencing hecklers and recent jokes. Before leaving the stage, the two comedians made the inappropriately appropriate gesture of tucking fan-gifted Wisconsin towels in the front of their pants and thanking the audience.
The evening was an incredible hit, as both Ferguson and Thompson managed to make two hours feel like mere seconds as their outrageous comedy took over. This show is obviously not appropriate for children as there is a great deal of comedy relating to sex and drugs. But for those who appreciate adult humor and "The Late Late Show", this is a prime candidate for side-splitting weekend entertainment.