Craig Ferguson has an undying love of history and debate, and that is the driving force behind his new talk show “Join or Die With Craig Ferguson.”
Premiering Thursday (Feb. 18), on History with the first of 22 episodes, the half-hour series sees the former “Late Late Show” host and stand-up comic discussing provocative and timely topics with a trio of guests: an expert in the field, a celebrity who can weigh in on the subject and a comedian. Topics tend to be offbeat, ranging from “History’s Most Influential Drug” and “Biggest Political Blunder” to “History’s Biggest Douchebag” and “Worst Medical Advice.” Early guests will include actress Maria Bello, talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel and Jordan Carlos of “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.”
And in true Ferguson style, the discussions will be humorous, irreverent and at times profane. He says the idea for the show came to him in the wake of his Peabody Award for his 2008 “Late Late Show” interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the eventual end of his time on that series in 2013.
“It slowly kind of came together that if I was going to do anything,” he tells Zap2it, “what I would want to do is a show that felt like the energy of that show, that it had intelligence, that it had wit. It was funny, it was entertaining but it was also about something, it was about a thing. It had a reason for existence beyond the fact that it was a time slot.”
“The Late Late Show,” he explains, was instrumental in connecting him with the guests for his new show.
“In a way, it was an interview/search process,” he says. “It’s from a pool of people that I interviewed over 10 years on late night. So that’s how I was like, ‘No, get Maria [Bello] for this because she can talk about that.’ I mean, Maria I know personally anyway. A lot of these people are my friends. So you get a feel for who can hang and it’s a surprisingly large group of people … .”
“Join or Die” are words that have personal meaning for Ferguson. The 53-year-old native of Glasgow, Scotland, had the saying with the image of a snake tattooed to his forearm after he became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
“They’re the end result, they’re kind of like a scar,” he says. “Like I go through a process and I end it with a tattoo. Like, my children are born, I get a tattoo.”
“So this one … had a personal historical significance and an actual historical significance,” he continues. “It seemed like a good name and a good visual, arresting image and kind of a rallying cry for the show.”