The recently-released documentary Framing Britney Spears examines the pop star’s life, the #FreeBritney movement, and the rampant misogyny she’s faced throughout her career. Late-night show hosts, in particular, were brutal to the pop star (“The Britney doc is also a sad reminder that not too long ago we had to pretend that jay leno was funny,” reads one emblematic tweet), with the exception of one: Craig Ferguson.
In 2007, The Late Late Show host explained why he refused to mock Spears’ public breakdown. “Tonight, no Britney Spears jokes, and here’s why,” he began. “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. 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.’ But what she’s going through reminds me of what I was doing. It’s an anniversary, you start to think about it, and it reminds me of where I was 15 years ago, when I was living like that.” Ferguson refrained from diagnosing Spears, but “she clearly needs help.” He also said that he felt “uncomfortable about making fun” of celebrities like Spears and Anna Nicole Smith, who had recently passed away, when we should be “attacking the powerful people, the politicians and the Trumps and the blowhards.” (Ferguson was really ahead of his time by singling out Trump.)
Ferguson discussed his monologue, which has gone viral since Framing Britney Spears premiered, in 2019 with the Los Angeles Times. “I wanted to put myself in the position of what Ms. Spears had been in that weekend, [to show] that I understood, that I identified with her discomfort,” he said. “And I because I had done that, other people identified with me too. It feels odd to talk about, because I don’t want to aggrandize myself. I didn’t mean to do it. It just felt right at the time. But it has definitely stuck.”
You can watch the full monologue above, or an excerpt below.
Never forget when Craig Ferguson refused to make fun of Britney Spears. pic.twitter.com/r8AuiNPW0L
— Britney Fan 🌹 (@BritneyHiatus) February 9, 2021
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is deeply missed.
anyone else remember Craig Ferguson gently telling us in 2007 that hey maybe it's not funny that Britney Spears is having a mental breakdown and going to rehab, that was kind of neat for the Perez Hilton era
— Amy, Mothman Festival Queen (@cableknitjumper) February 9, 2021
I want Craig Ferguson to have his late-night show back. He was one of the funniest, realist dudes out there. https://t.co/IwmjivFgUF
— Alexandria Daniels (@filmnvinyl) February 9, 2021
Honestly Craig Ferguson was great and we really didn’t give him enough praise when he was the late late show host https://t.co/kopsdDMZXm
— kylie "defund the police" sparks 🖤🥂⚾️🏀 (@kyliesparks) February 9, 2021
Craig Ferguson's show was such a lovely and wacky little corner of the late-night world. I miss it deeply.
— Valerie Ettenhofer (@aandeandval) February 9, 2021