Nope, you’re not hallucinating if you switch on “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” early Tuesday morning and see Drew Carey instead. On April Fools’ Day, Carey and Ferguson (old friends from their days on “The Drew Carey Show”) will swap hosting gigs on their longtime CBS shows. Carey takes over the desk on the “Late Late Show” at 12:35 a.m. — guests are actor Carl Reiner, singer Joan Jett and columnist Connie Schultz — while Ferguson tests his luck hours later on Carey’s “The Price is Right” at 11 a.m.
Both episodes were pre-taped, so we talked to Carey about what it was like to switch places with Ferguson, and if the two ever hang out and reminisce about how Cleveland rocks. Plus, Carey told us a few fun facts about his current stint on “Dancing With the Stars” and what TV show he always secretly thought would be his legacy (and it’s not the one with his name in it).
Was there any talk at all about keeping this a surprise until April 1?
Well, that’s what I thought we were going to do, but then CBS had to approve it all. Originally when I heard the concept I thought, “That would be a fun thing to spring on people.” And then once CBS found out about it, they were like, “No, we’re going to publicize the hell of it and get people to watch.”
You and Craig have known each other a long time – how often do you see each other these days?
Not that often, to tell you the truth, cause we’re working. I’m at work while he’s at work, and then when we get done, we’re done. I don’t get to see him as much as I want to.
This must have been a good excuse to hang out.
Yeah, we always say we’re going to get together and hang out, you know, but we never do as much as we want to. But it’s kind of nice, because then when we do see each other, it’s like Old Home Week.
What kind of skills do you have to bring to a talk show versus a game show?
I don’t know — I’m really good at talking to people, turns out. (laughs) All I do on “The Price is Right” is say hello and get to know people I don’t know. I talk to people in the crowd all the time at commercials.
And I’m really interested in the guests I have [on the “Late Late Show.”] I wanted to have Carl Reiner and Joan Jett and Connie Schultz because I was really interested in meeting them and knowing about them. So it wasn’t hard. There just happen to be cameras there, all you’re doing is meeting somebody interesting to you and wanting to talk to them.
So you were involved in booking the guests? Why these three?
Oh yeah, they said “whoever you want to get,” and I started giving them names of people. I’m so glad I got the people I got. Carl Reiner is a comedy god – I’ve been watching him since I was a kid. … When you’re a comic and you get to meet somebody like that it’s a really amazing thing; it’s like you’re an electrician and you get to meet Thomas Edison or something.
So I just thought it would be cool to have him on the show. He just turned 92 and he just came out with this book. I’m a huge fan of Carl Reiner’s, so that’s the only reason; just a big fan and have been since I was a kid. And Joan Jett, same reason. I’ve had a crush on her since “Do You Wanna Touch Me.” And Connie is from Cleveland, so it’s all good.
Do you banter with the robot like Craig Ferguson does?
No, I kind of did my own thing, it was nice. We followed the format: There was a cold opening, monologue, desk piece, interview, interview, interview. But other than that, I just did my own thing.
Did the audience know?
Oh yeah, they had publicized that I was going to do it and everything. Everybody had [“Price is Right"-style] nametags on in the audience.
Have you ever been approached before about doing a talk show?
No, I filled in there after Craig Kilborn left [in 2004], I filled in for a couple nights and hosted. That was really fun. But I wasn’t in any way auditioning for the show; it was just fun to do. For a month, they had all kinds of fill-in guest hosts and I was one of them. It was really good experience and I had a really good time with it. I already got a gig during the day anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Then I was retired for a little while and I was kind of off everybody’s radar and then all of a sudden I got “The Price is Right.” … I think now I could do one, but now I’m a little old, I’m 55, so I’m a little old to start one. Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.
How did you fit “Dancing With the Stars” between all this?
I had a super-busy week that week, it was the busiest week I ever had. I was doing dance rehearsal in the morning, then going to “Price is Right,” then I would have a meeting or an interview at lunch. Then I’d do another show, and then I’d have about an hour for dinner. Even then I’d have some kind of meeting or interview to do, so I’d have to wolf my dinner down and then I’d to go to dance rehearsal again. I was exhausted every single day. Not to mention having to prep for the “Late Late Show.”
Is “Dancing With the Stars” anything like you expected?
It’s as hard as I thought it was going to be. But you know, it’s not as physically demanding as I thought it was going to be. I work up a little bit of a sweat, so not that bad…I was running a lot, so I wasn’t as tired as I was when I got done with my runs. But doing the jive was a lot of work.
Physically, it’s not as demanding as I thought; like, I haven’t lost any weight. I was already good aerobic-wise. The hard part is all the technical parts. Being able to hold my hands exactly right; my posture’s pretty bad as far as keeping the frame; memorizing all the steps. That’s really difficult to do every week.
When people see you on the street, what show do they recognize you from most often?
“The Price is Right” and “Whose Line is It Anyway?” A lot of people forget all about “The Drew Carey Show” — that’s what’s really weird since that’s how I made all my money. (laughs)
I think “Whose Line” is always going to be around forever and ever. I knew when I was doing that show, it would be my legacy show. I always knew it was going to be good for everybody.