Late Night Returns, But Laughs Lag

But in his studio, Ferguson flaunted his with-writing-staff status as if it were a VIP ticket to a hot new club. "The writers are still on strike but we've got a special pass," he said about himself and Letterman. "It's the TV equivalent of diplomatic immunity. I'm like Switzerland."

Dismissing reports that he and Letterman will score a slew of A-list bookings because of their deal with the WGA, Ferguson assured his audience that his brand of 1:35 a.m. comedy won't change.

"I just want to send a message to the D-list celebrities of Hollywood -- you are still welcome here," he said. "Kathy Griffin will still be here, the guy who invented the electric cheese cutter will still be here, people who can fart musical notes, they'll be here … This show will be the same lame crap as always, we will not change a thing. It will be garbage."

True to form, Ferguson filled his show not with the usual slate of guests but with sub par skits, including a snarky thank-you letter to Letterman, a special appearance by "Saturday Night Live" alum Tim Meadows, and a phone call with a fake governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Talking about the length of the strike, Ferguson joked, "No one knows how long the strike is going to go on … The two sides aren't talking to each other. It's like being married. You have to go to bed at night without anything happening."

Well, now that late-night comedy's back, audiences can rest assured that there's something happening on their TV screens after hours. But as the hosts were the first to admit Wednesday, there's no guarantee it'll be good.

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