I first discovered Craig Ferguson's joy during an ill-advised stint in grad school. I had chosen to study outside my field, and I was a nervous wreck, believing that everyone else had years of training on me, and how would I be able to do the work? So, because I do it anyway, I watched a lot of TV. And late at night too. There I encountered a man who exuded infectiousness. His show was loose, wild, silly, fun—it was exactly what I needed during that stressful time. And he could make me laugh uncontrollably.
Maybe because he was an alcoholic and had thought about killing himself, Craig was genuinely happy to be there, and really seemed to take joy in his work and just in being alive. That rubbed off. How could it not? We always value charismatic people for what they can teach, but we don't really think of them as teaching joy. We should. Even if they're not making you learn a subject, their enthusiasm reminds us of the great role pleasure must play in our lives. Craig was pleasurable. He was absurd. He didn't take life too seriously. That is an essential skill to have in navigating it.
And of course he was smart, highly well read, and very, very quick. His interviews provided the needed balm of regular human conversation without canned planning. His serious monologues and speeches, about the death of his parents, why he wouldn't make fun of Britney Spears, Boston and so many others were honest TV. We don't get that often enough-normal and free living in the world as opposed to something scripted. Actual human behavior is more exciting than any action scene.
Then there was his status as a Scotsman. I am an immigrant to this country, and to see another on TV, being intelligent and joyous, lampooning but also celebrating his adopted country—it was like a finding an oasis in the desert. I connected with him. More outsiders on TV, please.
So here's to CraigyFerg, Geoff, Secretariat, Al Fredo and the Shy Guys, poor "racist" Michael, and all of his staff and crew. I'll miss all of you. And thanks.