Former Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson’s 2007 monologue explaining why he won’t mock Britney Spears is going viral again following the release of Framing Britney Spears, the New York Times-produced documentary exploring the pop star’s life, hounding by the media and battle for control of her estate.
Days after Spears made headlines in February 2007 for shaving her head in front of dozens of paparazzi photographers, the Scottish comedian explained on the air why he was starting “to feel uncomfortable about making fun” of some people caught up in the news.
“Comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it,” Ferguson declared. “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.”
He continued: “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 appeared to anticipate that Ferguson would switch gears and begin mocking Spears. But he didn’t. Instead, he reflected on his own history of alcoholism and suggested Spears “clearly needs 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.’”
Ferguson in 2019 said he feared he’d be sacked from the show for his stance. But he said he decided to take the risk after “feeling kind of shock” at the gleeful media portrayal of events surrounding Spears.
“I thought, ‘They’re going to fire me for this.’” he told the Los Angeles Times. “And actually the opposite happened, and everyone seemed to be very happy about it.”
Ferguson said he “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.”
“And I because I had done that, other people identified with me too.”
Watch Ferguson’s full monologue from 2007 below: