The former late night host said he was “convinced” he’d get fired for not telling Britney jokes amid her public breakdown.
Craig Ferguson is receiving praise for refusing to mock Britney Spears amid her public breakdown in a resurfaced video hitting social media.
The clip, posted by Britney Fan to Twitter on Monday, shows the comedian defending the pop star, whose turbulent life and controversial conservatorship has been thrust in the spotlight again with the premiere of “Framing Britney Spears.”
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“Tonight, no Britney Spears jokes,” Ferguson said during the opening monologue of “The Late Late Show” episode from 2007. “This woman has two kids, she’s 25 years old, she’s a baby herself. She’s a baby.”
He referenced watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” by saying, “You know, you’d be laughing at the kid falling over and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute. Put down the damn camera and help your kid.'”
“I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people,” he continued. “Funny comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it. It should be about us attacking the powerful people, attacking the politicians and the Trumps and the blowhards. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people.”
He went on to mention Anna Nicole Smith, who had died a few weeks earlier from a drug overdose at the age of 39, saying, “People are falling apart, people are dying.”
“It’s not a joke. It stops being funny.”
At the time, the “Toxic” singer was a staple for late night show ridicule as she had shaved her head and attacked a paparazzi with an umbrella. She would later be taken in for psychiatric care.
Admitting he had been punching down in his comedy recently as well, Ferguson revealed, “This is totally a mea culpa, this is just for me. I think my aim has been off a bit recently and I want to change it a bit.”
Fans applauded the comic’s brave turn in the resurfaced video, as one posted, “Craig totally went against the grain of late night comics here. Comedians should remember that when you make fun of a young celebrity with substance abuse and/or emotional problems, no matter how wealthy and famous they are, you are punching down.”
The “Framing Britney Spears” documentary has reenergized fans voicing their concerns over the entertainer’s welfare after her father, Jamie Spears, took control of her estate 13 years ago.
“#FreeBritney” has been resurfacing also, as her legion of fans — including celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Khloe Kardashian and Bette Midler — are asking for the courts to reexamine Britney’s conservatorship.
Indeed, even a 2003 Diane Sawyer interview is being scrutinized after the documentary showed the singer questioned over her role in the breakup with Justin Timberlake and how she sets an example for children.
“You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?” Sawyer asked the star, who was 22 at the time.
The veteran TV host then appeared to defend Maryland’s first lady who said she would like to shoot the hitmaker for being a bad influence.
With Britney rightfully shocked at the revelation, Sawyer said, “It’s because of the example for kids and how hard it is to be a parent.”
“I’m sorry, why is Diane Sawyer defending someone who threatened to shoot Britney Spears?” posted one Twitter follower after viewing the documentary, as another shared, “I wonder if Diane Sawyer looks back on this Britney Spears interview and cringes. What a poor interview.”
In 2019, Ferguson recalled how he was “convinced” he would be fired for not telling the Britney jokes on his show, but said he felt it was the right thing to do at the time.
“I started seeing news reports about what was happening to Britney Spears. And I remember feeling kind of shocked at the kind of glee that seemed to accompany them,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know Ms. Spears and I’m not a doctor, but to all outward appearances it was some kind of psychotic episode. It didn’t look like she was having a good time at all.”
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