Craig and Drew, come on down!

Ferguson and Carey. Monty Brinton/CBS

Now that’s how to pull off an April Fool’s joke.
On Tuesday, in the wee hours on The Late Late Show and later that morning on The Price is Right, the hosts of those two shows–Craig Ferguson and Drew Carey–switched places.
Carey and Ferguson have known each other for years, ever since the sardonic Scottsman co-starred on The Drew Carey Show. Their two TV gigs are shot in the same building, CBS Television Studios in Hollywood, where their former Whose Line mate Wayne Brady also does Let’s Make a Deal. They work one floor apart, so they didn’t even have to take the elevator for this CBS switcheroo.
Still, this kind of a prank rarely happens in television. Kudos to Ferguson for calling Carey up and suggesting the stunt. It gave fans of both shows a window on their personalities and on the way these shows are really designed around their hosts.
Carey clearly was in his glory, telling viewers early Tuesday morning that he always wanted to be a talk show host “until success got in the way.” He brought his announcer, George Gray, as well as Price is Right models Rachel Reynolds, Amber Lancaster and Manuela Arbelaez, along for the gag.
Having the models escort guests seemed like a very practical gesture as 92-year old Carl Reiner made his way to the couch. The comedy legend was there to promote his latest memoir, I Just Remembered. Reiner, however, didn’t need any help. He’s still walking under his own power and is as sharp  and playful as ever.

Carl Reiner (left) with Carey. Lisette M. Azar/CBS

Carey seems to be all over the place these days. Besides his day job, he’s also a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars. You could feel his delight as he crossed “hosting a talk show” off his bucket list.
On Price, Ferguson seemed more bemused and detached as he experienced the fan frenzy. People truly go bonkers on that show, flipping out in the audience and hopping all over the stage. Ferguson played it very straight, appearing more like a network executive in that three piece suit and just trying not to get hugged to death by the screaming contestants.
Funnier was seeing his robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson, as well as pantomime horse Secretariat, act as Price is Right models. Geoff wore a blond wig as he sat in a hot tub. One woman who won a truck seemed only to want to hug Secretariat, who was sitting in the back with a bail of hay.
It was also nice to see Shaddoe Stevens back on camera. Ferguson’s announcer, a tanned and teased presence in dozens of local car dealership ads in Los Angeles in the ’80s, has only been heard and not seen since he was a regular on Harry Anderson’s 1993-97 sitcom Dave’s World. I’m not sure why I was so surprised, but he looks older now, like an orchestra maestro with that frosted Tarzan hair.
Ferguson seemed shocked and amused as he gave away one car after another. It truly was a great day for America.
Ferguson had to forsake all the bawdy shtick he gets away with each night on The Late, Late Show. When he did his duty at the end and told viewers to spade and neuter their pets, there was no cutaway to Secretariat crossing his knees in horror. Everybody just delivered the shows the fans came to see. More of this please, TV networks.

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