Craig Ferguson, the former Late Late Show host, has made waves recently for an old monologue from 2007 in which he refused to mock Britney Spears.
In light of the new documentary Framing Britney Spears, interest in the pop star’s plights over the last decade has grown. The New York Times documentary outlines how Spears has faced difficulties ranging from aggressive paparazzi to a fight to control her own estate.
In 2007, Spears made headlines for shaving her head in front of paparazzi photographers. A few days later, Ferguson explained that he was “uncomfortable about making fun” of certain celebrities in the news.
“Comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it,” Ferguson announced. “It should be about us attacking the powerful people, attacking the politicians and the Trumps and the blowhards, going after them. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people.”
“I think my aim’s been off a bit recently. I want to change it a bit. So tonight, no Britney Spears jokes and here’s why.”
The audience seemed ready for Ferguson to do an about-face and start making fun of Spears, but that’s not what happened. He, in fact, opened up about his own fight with alcoholism and painted Spears as a sympathetic figure who seemed to need help.
“The kind of weekend she had, she was checking in and out of rehab, she was shaving her head, getting tattoos, that’s what she was doing this weekend,” he said. “This Sunday, I was 15 years sober. So I looked at her weekend and I looked at my own weekend and I thought, ‘You know, I’d rather have my weekend.’”
In 2019, Ferguson told the Los Angeles Times that he was afraid he would be fired from the show for his stance, but he was willing to take the risk after “feeling kind of shock” at how the media was enjoying ripping Spears apart. Fortunately, Ferguson said, “the opposite happened, and everyone seemed to be very happy about it.
Ultimately, he wanted to show that he identified with her situation — and he found that other people thereby identified with him.
Watch Ferguson’s full monologue from 2007 here: