Craig Ferguson is getting his virtual props for a resurfaced 2007 monologue from The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson in which he declared he would not be making any jokes about Britney Spears.
The clip aired around the time that Spears was struggling with her mental health, leading to her checking into rehab for a day, shaving her head, and being photographed brandishing an umbrella as photographers tried to follow her.
In his monologue, Ferguson talked about the dangers of the media picking on the most vulnerable members of society.
"It's been happening in the press and the media recently, particularly in the so-called 'news outlets,'" Ferguson said, motioning air quotes. "I kind of had similar feelings when I used to watch America's Funniest Home Videos. You're laughing at the kid falling over and then you go, 'Wait a minute, put down the damn camera and help your kid!' And I think we're kind of holding the camera and people are falling apart."
The episode aired days after the February 2007 death of Anna Nicole Smith, and Ferguson mentioned it to the live audience.
"People are dying. That Anna Nicole Smith woman, she died," Ferguson said, as several members of the audience laughed. "It's not a joke! You know it stops being funny. She's got a 6-month-old kid. What the hell is that? I'm starting to feel uncomfortable making fun of these people. It should be about attacking the powerful people, attacking the politicians and the Trumps and the blowhards, go after them."
He went on to take some responsibility himself, adding, "I think my aim's been off a bit recently. I want to change it a bit, so tonight, no Britney Spears jokes. This woman has two kids, she's 25 years old. She's a baby herself. She's a baby."
"I went in to work Monday morning, and everybody had the [Britney] jokes written up. And I was like, ‘No. I'm not doing it.’ And I didn't. I was genuinely upset, and I went with my gut. … It just struck me as the right thing to do in the moment," he recalled. "When I saw what happened to her that weekend, that happened to coincide with my own 15 years sobriety [anniversary] — that same weekend. And I thought, ‘I don't know what I want to do on the show, but I'm f***ing sure I don't want to do this.'"
While Spears never directly reached out to Ferguson after he took such a stance, he thinks she may have heard about it. "I did want to use one of her songs ['Oops!...I Did It Again'] in a standup special, and when I requested it, everyone was saying there's no way that song was going to clear,” he shared. “I asked if I could use it in a standup special, and I got it for nothing. That's a very expensive song to use. So, I'm extremely grateful that she let me do that.”