“This is just another case of immigrants taking jobs that Americans don’t want.” That was new U.S. citizen Craig Ferguson’s take on hosting Saturday’s White House Correspondent’s dinner. The (single!) C-SPAN camera captured it all; here are the highlights:
Ferguson and Bush–one recovering alcoholic roasting another. The Glasgow-native snuck plenty of blunt talk into his 20 minute address, including shots at his network, CBS, saying he was all they could afford “after paying Katie Couric.” He mocked Hollywood, calling L.A. “a very short commute to America, half an hour on the plane.” He even goofed on Canada with that joke about us being the apartment over the party. “We’re trying to be polite and wear knitwear up here,” he said in his Canadian voice.
Speaking before a black tie Washington crowd, he took advice to “speak the truth to power” to heart, joking that “I make up crap that isn’t true and say it on TV–I’m like Fox News, I’m not a journalist.”
There were other pointed shots at Hillary and Bill Clinton, The New York Times, vice president Dick Chaney and Donald Rumsfeld. He reminded Bush how, eight years earlier, he pledged to restore dignity to the White House. “By the way, you were fantastic on Deal Or No Deal,” he deadpanned.
Ferguson basically delivered an extended version of his Late Late Show opening monologue. He’s terrific in these gala situations, as TV critics saw a few years back when he hosted the TCA Awards.
Ferguson’s latest success comes as several news sources, including The Hollywood Reporter, speculate that former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor Jimmy Fallon will be named as Conan O’Brien’s replacement on NBC’s Late Night. NBC is expected to make it official at their “non-upfront” May 12 in New York.
As was O’Brien, Fallon is the hand-picked candidate of SNL and Late Night executive producer Lorne Michaels. NBC has promised O’Brien Jay Leno’s seat on The Tonight Show in 2009. The actual transfer dates have not been announced, but the assumption is that O’Brien will hand off Late Night to Fallon in February on ’09, move to L.A. (where a new Tonight Show set is being built) and take over from Leno in September of ’09.
Also like O’Brien, Fallon is seen as untested and a bit of a wild card as a late night host. He did sub for David Letterman in 2003 although, if that was an audition, he didn’t blow anybody away. He does bring “likability” to the job, which may be a more important asset than experience, although talent would be right up there on any applicant’s resume. He has starred in a couple of forgettable feature films and one decent Pepsi commercial. The 33-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y.-native could be the next Conan O’Brien–or the next Chevy Chase.