A guide to Craig Ferguson’s weirdest traditions you’ll never see on late-night TV again after this year


Craig Ferguson (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

With Craig Ferguson announcing on Monday night that he will be stepping down from “The Late Late Show” in December, that means you only have eight more months to witness a talking robot skeleton on TV.

Prepare to say farewell to Geoff Petereson the robot, the Snake Mug, the Awkward Pause, and many of other truly bizarre elements that have become staples of Ferguson’s wacky late-night program. Really, it’s the kind of stuff you can only get away with when your show airs from 12:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Have no idea what we’re talking about? Here’s a guide to some of Ferguson’s most bizarre traditions that you’ll likely never see again on late-night TV:

Geoff Peterson the robot skeleton

Letterman has Paul Shaffer, Conan has Andy Richter and Ferguson has Geoff the robot skeleton. What? It all started in spring 2010 as Ferguson fretted that he didn’t have a classic sidekick like so many other hosts. The end result? “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara challenged Ferguson (who called his fans his robot skeleton army) that if he could get Imahara 100,000 Twitter followers, he would build Ferguson an actual robot skeleton sidekick.  Sure enough, Imahara followed through on his promise. Geoff was born (voiced by comedian Josh Robert Thompson) and has been an integral part of the show ever since, always there with a quick one-liner.

Secretariat the costumed horse

No, you’re not hallucinating if it’s 12:30 a.m. and you see a giant costumed horse galloping around on your TV — that’s just Secretariat, another Ferguson sidekick that appears, sometimes carrying guests. This delightful tradition began in 2010 shortly after Disney’s “Secretariat” movie came out, and when Ferguson was going through his reader mail, someone asked Ferguson if he had seen it. No, he had not, but he did take the occasion to make a fake trailer featuring Secretariat’s first appearance. The sight was so hilarious that Ferguson started bringing Secretariat out just to dance — and when people started complaining “enough with the horse,” Secretariat’s appearances just increased until he was a mainstay.

The rattlesnake mug

Originally just a gag gift from actress Mary McCormack during a 2009 visit, Ferguson quickly became obsessed with the mug from Albuquerque’s National Rattlesnake Museum (McCormack had just been in New Mexico shooting a movie). “Oh God, I love it!” Ferguson yelled. He threw his boring old coffee mug on the ground, where it promptly shattered. “I don’t need this crap,” he said as McCormack gasped in horror at the broken glass. “This is the new cup.” He kept that promise.

All the puppets

There are too many to name, but occasionally Ferguson will kick things off with a puppet looking directly into a camera. It could be a shark or a rabbit, depending on the day.

Awkward pauses

Instead of waiting for awkwardness to happen, Ferguson just embraces it. Seriously, he forces his guests to have awkward pauses, with varying results of genuine awkwardness.

The fake fireplace

Sometimes you need to throw a real log into a fake fireplace, just because.

“What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?”

An important question and one that Ferguson will address as he summarizes the show — but only preceded by a jingle with a kitten involved.

Tearing up the notecards

Ferguson couldn’t stand the fact that producers left him notecards with potential questions for his guests, and one day before interviewing Alec Baldwin in 2008 he mocked the card (first question: “How have you been?”) and tore it up, throwing away the ripped up pieces. It’s been that way ever since.

Best friendship with Kristen Bell

This one isn’t so much weird as it is random and wonderful, and we’ll miss it. You know how some late-night hosts just hit it off with some guests more than others? This is the perfect example, as the odd couple duo is delightful to watch. Bell even accompanied Ferguson as a co-host when he took his show to Paris.

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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