I don't watch Craig Ferguson's late-night talk show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, meaning I'm really only familiar with him for his run on The Drew Carey Show during the late 1990s and early 2000s. I'm sure seeing him on his talk show -- where, I'm told, he doesn't prepare a monologue but rather just riffs on the day's events -- would have better prepared me for what to expect in his first stand-up special, A Wee Bit O' Revolution. Going in blind, I have to report that I was pleasantly surprised.
A New AmericanRecorded at Boston's Wilbur Theater on July 4, 2008, the special is the Scottish-born Ferguson's first stand-up performance since becoming an American citizen. Part autobiographical confessional and part observation comedy, the nearly 90-minute Revolution shows Ferguson to be an incredibly likable and witty comic, whose "outsider" perspective gives him an original voice in the stand-up landscape.
From Storytelling to Joke Telling
The first half of Revolution, where Ferguson talks about growing up in Scotland and his experiences both visiting and immigrating to the U.S., is the best stuff. More storytelling than traditional stand-up, Ferguson covers his relationship with his mother and his first impressions of America before hinting at the dark directions his life would take (including a stint in rehab and a very funny story about missing an entire Deep Purple concert because he decided to try chloroform). For a while, Revolution feels more like a one-man monologue show than a stand-up special, making one wish the whole 80 minutes would follow suit.
Once Ferguson catches us up to speed, however (glossing over how he got the Drew Carey gig is as current as he gets), Ferguson loses a lot of the autobiographical material and settles into some more observational stuff about marriage and Tom Cruise being crazy (even in 2008, that's pretty dated). That means the remainder of the special lacks the honesty and ease of the first half. It's not bad -- Ferguson is still likable and manages to make knock out a few funny one-liners -- but it fails to deliver on the promise established earlier.
Ultimately, A Wee Bit O' Revolution overstays its welcome a little, but it's worth a look particularly for its first half. There's something I like about Ferguson's outsider perspective on American culture. Despite the fact that he's now officially part of the club, he seems to have a lifelong fascination with what it means to be American, and the way he chronicles his journey to that destination is funny and occasionally oddly poignant. I also like that he hints at some dark depths without laying it all bare; we know that his past informs his comedy, but he doesn't turn his entire routine into a purging of past sins. Maybe he's saving that for his next special.
- Original Premiere Date: 3/22/09
- Release Date: 3/24/09
- Running Time: 80 minutes
- 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
- Studio: Image Entertainment
DVD Bonus Features
- Craig Ferguson Interview
- Speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall