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Riding the Elephant
Cover of Riding the Elephant
Riding the Elephant
A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations
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From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit.  Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire...
From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit.  Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire...
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  • From the comedian, actor, and former host of The Late Late Show comes an irreverent, lyrical memoir in essays featuring his signature wit.
     
    Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of a miracle in itself. In Craig’s candid and revealing memoir, listeners will get a look into the mind and recollections of the unique and twisted Scottish American who became a national hero for pioneering the world’s first TV robot skeleton sidekick and reviving two dudes in a horse suit dancing as a form of entertainment. 
     
    In Riding the Elephant, there are some stories that are too graphic for television, too politically incorrect for social media, or too meditative for a stand-up comedy performance. Craig discusses his deep love for his native Scotland, examines his profound psychic change brought on by fatherhood, and looks at aging and mortality with a perspective that he was incapable of as a younger man. Each story is strung together in a colorful tapestry that ultimately reveals a complicated man who has learned to process—and even enjoy—the unusual trajectory of his life. 
    Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/Contour by Getty Images
 

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  • From the cover

    1

     

    Riding the Elephant

     

    In the time before I loved you, I never thought of the world as precious. It had value to me only in its sensuality and its ability to satiate my appetites. This was the time when I was ruled by the tyranny of desire. If I couldn't eat it or snort it or own it or drink it or make it cry or laugh or give me money, then it was invisible to me. I had no empathy, but used sentimentality and wit and slurred prose to cloak my ugliness. Even then I was reaching out to find you, almost imperceptible, a daisy on a mountain of shit. Even now when I warm the pool of recollection and look into its depths I can see the ice melt around the old monsters and watch them cast a sleepy eye to the surface on the off chance of an opportunity to attack.

     

    It was a time of a quiescent conscience but not a deep, restful sleep. I thrashed around in the nightmares. In the cold light of day though, or in the neon, I didn't give a fuck. I sang and danced and joked in the spotlights; I drank and snorted in the bars and clubs and made as much bloody noise as I could so I couldn't hear the discordant hymns of purity and constancy that whined incessantly at low volume in the background. This was a time when I would tear the burned flesh of the dead with my canines and drink stolen mother's milk so that riding on the back of a majestic, sad, captured god would not even register as an issue of morality. I would not be comfortable riding an elephant today, but I was a different man then, and although I do not ask for your forgiveness for who I was, I humbly apologize to the elephant, wherever she may be.

     

    I had been separated from my wife, Anne, for a few months before I attempted my first adult relationship. Her name was Helen and she was an actress. She was English and was older than me and had a cool Mazda RX-7 with pop-up headlights. She wore a perfume called Giorgio that proclaimed proudly that it came from Beverly Hills on its expensive-looking yellow-and-white packaging. Helen had chic Italian clothes with padded shoulders. She had performed Shakespeare in the theater and been on really good television shows and had known Ian Curtis when she was at school. She knew famous people who were still alive too, and she took reasonably priced holidays to exotic places, sometimes with those famous people. She rode horses, for God's sake. She could have groceries in her refrigerator and not eat them all in the same day; she could pay her bills and make appointments on time. I was bewitched by her functionality. That's not to say she was boring. On the contrary, she had a great laugh and an unpredictable temper. She was, to all outward appearances, a well-rounded human being, although I question that now given that she chose to be in a relationship with a recently separated unsuccessful alcoholic stand-up comedian eight years her junior. I was telling a lot of lies to myself about who I was then; perhaps she was unfortunate enough to believe some of them too.

     

    Helen wanted to go Sri Lanka. She had read about it in a magazine. She showed me the pictures. Charming jungle scenery and giant golden Buddhas. I didn't care about going to Sri Lanka, but I didn't want Helen to know I was that provincial so I enthusiastically agreed. Although I could ill afford it, I borrowed some more money from my increasingly concerned bank, and we bought tickets and booked a hotel.

     

    Although Helen had questionable taste in men, she wasn't an idiot; we had separate finances the entire five years we were together. Smart move, I'd say.

     

    The problem with trying to hide active alcoholism from...

About the Author-

  • Craig Ferguson has worked as a drummer, a bartender, a stand-up comedian, a producer and an actor. He is the author of a bunch of screenplays, a few of which have actually been made into talking pictures. He wrote the novel Between the Bridge and the River and the memoir American on Purpose and with his friends Geoff, a sassy robot, and Secretariat, a comedy horse, he hosted a late night talk show on American television for ten years. He lives in Scotland.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine If eclectic, sharp-witted observations on a well-lived life presented in a lyrical style are your cup of tea, Craig Ferguson's words and skillful audio performance will amuse and entertain. Ferguson, best known for his 10 years at the helm of CBS's "Late Late Show," liberally employs his Scottish lilt in a narration that enhances the stronger pieces and strengthens the weaker ones. Nearly every social issue is addressed, including fatherhood, mortality, and the corporate politics of network television and other parts of the entertainment industry. This is a more introspective examination than his previous excellent memoir, AMERICAN ON PURPOSE. Poignant, candid, and authentic listening is the reward for persisting through some occasionally profane language. W.A.G. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine

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Riding the Elephant
Riding the Elephant
A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations
Craig Ferguson
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Craig Ferguson
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