February 9th, 2021 – Craig Ferguson is making 2021 headlines for his 2007 late-night segment. Following the release of the new Britney Spears documentary, people have gone through the archives to see how comedians and journalists covered the singer’s struggles over a decade ago. Ferguson’s decision to not joke about Spears during his Late Late Show monologue stood out among a crowded field of mockery.
The resurfaced clip shows Ferguson coming to the realization that his aim had been “off” around that time. Spears was among several female celebrities who were under relentless scrutiny and attack by the media and paparazzi.
“People are falling apart! People are dying! That Anna Nicole Smith woman died!” he said. When the studio audience laughed at the mention of Smith, Ferguson immediately replied, “It’s not a joke!”
Ferguson went on to explain his approach to comedy by punching up and why the target of a joke shouldn’t be those who are vulnerable.
“I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people. For me, comedy should have a sentiment of joy in it. It should be about artists attacking the powerful people. Attacking the politicians, and the Trumps, and the blowhards. Go after them,” he said. “We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people. This is totally a mea culpa; this is just for me. I think my aim’s been off a bit, recently. I want to change it a bit. So tonight, no Britney Spears jokes. This woman has two kids, she’s 25 years old, she’s a baby herself. She’s a baby.”
The New York Times PresentsFraming Britney Spears aired on February 5th on FX and quickly became a featured episode on Hulu. The documentary shows racy jokes from Jay Leno, invasive interviews from Diane Sawyer, and aggressive tracking from paparazzi while Spears dealt with a conservatorship battle from her father, Jamie Spears.
Ferguson noted that making fun of Spears while she was clearly under duress was similar to parents who record their kids to submit to America’s Funniest Home Videos.
“You’d be laughing at the kid falling over, and then you’d go, ‘Wait a minute, put down the damn camera and help your kid! What the hell is wrong with you?’he said.”
While several magazines and pop culture personalities have been called out for their role in attacking a young woman in a way that no male celebrity had to face, Ferguson has been praised by fans and fellow comedians.
I watched his show every night and I remember watching that monologue of him talking about not joking about Britney Spears. It made me a lifelong fan because I saw respect. I was in the middle of my own terrible mental phase. Love him.