Riding the Elephant
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, readers 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.

Riding the Elephant Details

TitleRiding the Elephant
Author
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherBlue Rider Press
ISBN-139780525533917
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Humor, Writing, Essays

Riding the Elephant Review

  • Char
    January 1, 1970
    The only reason I was interested in reading this was because I read a short story by Craig Ferguson, (though I can't remember which collection it was in), and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this audiobook as well.Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American and he is hilarious. He's honest about his addictions and alcoholism, about his marriages and about his career. At times I nearly lost it, listening to him talk about the huge zit that appeared on his nose, just before the big school dance. He talke The only reason I was interested in reading this was because I read a short story by Craig Ferguson, (though I can't remember which collection it was in), and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this audiobook as well.Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American and he is hilarious. He's honest about his addictions and alcoholism, about his marriages and about his career. At times I nearly lost it, listening to him talk about the huge zit that appeared on his nose, just before the big school dance. He talked about stepping in dog poop. He talked about sports teams...(yeah, the Packers v. Broncos bit just slayed me.)Overall, this book was fun and now I would like to read or listen to more of his work. Recommended!*I downloaded this book from my local library. Libraries RULE!*
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Craig Ferguson's late night show. I enjoyed his radio show whenever I could. Even when I wasn't a big reader, I read and enjoyed his autobiography. And I enjoyed this book as well. This feels more introspective than American On Purpose, and there is plenty here to dig into and think about, from dealing with your past, fears about your present, and uncertainty about the future. It might not sound it, but I feel like it's ultimately a hopeful book, one where we can learn from each other an I loved Craig Ferguson's late night show. I enjoyed his radio show whenever I could. Even when I wasn't a big reader, I read and enjoyed his autobiography. And I enjoyed this book as well. This feels more introspective than American On Purpose, and there is plenty here to dig into and think about, from dealing with your past, fears about your present, and uncertainty about the future. It might not sound it, but I feel like it's ultimately a hopeful book, one where we can learn from each other and learn how to handle what life throws our way. (Also, the chapter on Margaret in particular was lovely.)The one thing that I found frustrating is that it seems like Ferguson has never met a fat person he doesn't feel compelled to tell us about their fatness. Fat people are porcine and have fat fingers, and they're the ones who make toilet seats warm, never their thin counterparts. Fatness is presented as something bad. Whenever mentions of fatness happened (which wasn't a lot but enough to notice), it felt like a short slap that briefly took me out of whatever was being said. Though I could get myself back into the story being told, these quick hits against fatness were disappointing.
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  • Jessi
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Craig Ferguson's memoir is full of laughs, reflections, and sage advice. I enjoyed that the memoir was in the form of essays. He was open about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the impact it had on his life. I learned how a pile of dog poop can change your entire year. I can never look at NFL mascot matchups quite the same ever again. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys snarky, honest memoirs.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. I enjoyed watching Craig's late night show years ago, so I was interested in reading this book. Craig's brand of humor shines in this book with a thoughtful look at various events in his life that have had an impact on him. It's the perfect read for any fan or anyone looking for a unique yet humorous nonfiction read.
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  • Geoff
    January 1, 1970
    While I didn't enjoy it as much as American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, I enjoyed this book as Ferguson jumped around his life with essays about his Scottish childhood, love, meeting Princess Diana, kids and not being on TV anymore.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by the author, craig ferguson.yep, it was okay. i find ferguson, generally, pretty clever and entertaining. and he can certainly throw together a sentence that smacks! but i never really clicked with this one - apart from quite enjoying listening to his scottishness.
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  • Faiza Sattar
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★★★ (5/5)One of the interesting quirks of the aging process is that events that seemed to have little or no impact at the time resonate with a thunderous importance later on, like an expertly constructed detective novel.From the very beginning, I settled on two words which described this book perfectly: delightfully sad. Craig has a unique way with words. He spins and weaves intricate emotions with exceptional brevity and boundless wit. As evident from his most notable stint as a host for a la ★★★★★ (5/5)One of the interesting quirks of the aging process is that events that seemed to have little or no impact at the time resonate with a thunderous importance later on, like an expertly constructed detective novel.From the very beginning, I settled on two words which described this book perfectly: delightfully sad. Craig has a unique way with words. He spins and weaves intricate emotions with exceptional brevity and boundless wit. As evident from his most notable stint as a host for a late night talk show and his previous writings, Craig really is unapologetically himself - conscientious, illimitable and of course thoroughly entertaining. From the profane to the most discerning of life's elements, Craig writes his memoirs with a charming nonchalance that I attribute to his Scottish heritage. Action creates thought, not the other way round. Not the rather grand Descartian proclamation “I think, therefore I am,” but rather a more pragmatic philosophy of “I am, therefore I think.”In a brief unraveling of his life, he sheds light on what it means to be an assimilated immigrant, a self-destructive dipsomaniac, a loving father and husband with a marred albeit joyous childhood, an introspective aging adult and an empathetic society man. His sage anecdotes are not didactic but hold an endearing familiarity. There are no high-falutin ideals pursued, just a fantastic truth molded from nostalgia and the past. One of my favorite passages from the book is when Craig describes a particularly inconsequential yet gratifying experience:"I remember standing in a fantastic, congenial crowded pub at about 1 in the morning when a little puddle of seawater that had been lodged in my ear canal ran out. The water had been heated by my own body temperature, and the sensation of it trickling out is still one of the most delicious physical experiences I have ever had. I will remember that moment until the day I die. To this day whenever I take a swim, it crosses my mind that I might get lucky again."The narration is so sublime, so scintillating, the words so lofty and full of purposeful expression that I am tempted to read the lines over and over. Having read his previous autobiography American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, blanks left in this memoir are filled with ease. Both memoirs complement each other. The former being a chronological narration of his life, the latter being a collection of anecdotes and incidents that have perhaps contributed to Craig's perception on a life lived and loved. The very last chapter of this memoir is a testament to Craig's talent as a storyteller. He is, undoubtedly, one of my favorite authors to look forward to reading and I hope I get to revisit Between the Bridge and the River soon. A selection of my favourite passages from the bookOn Aging • It seems to me people make up stories to fit their perception about you. They don’t just do it about me, of course. It happens to everybody. I do it to myself. I’m getting older now and the shadows are getting longer. When I look into them I see shapes move and stir and I think I remember what they are, but maybe I’m just making it up to suit a reality about myself that I find comfortable. • I want to grow old like Dennis and pantomimes. Busy, enthusiastic, noisy, colorful, politically incorrect, and singing. • Old people are from a different tribe than the young. The young are in firm denial of their own mortality. That’s why they can be talked into being kamikaze pilots or suicide bombers, or take shocking risks with their own personal safety through stupid stunts and excessive alcohol and drugs. The idea of not being is incomprehensible to them. • An odd but, I’m assured, common phenomenon of the aging process is that childhood memories long thought to be forgotten seem to resurface with shocking and vivid clarity. I am unsure whether to believe in the verisimilitude of these recollections or whether they are just one of the entertainments of a decaying brain.Wise Gems • I’ve never found the notion that “things would have worked if circumstances had been different” to be particularly helpful. Circumstances are what they are. • These people were great artists despite their appetite for self-destruction, not because of it. • The acquisition of power tends to draw the worst people in our species. The narcissistic, sniveling demagogues who are so insecure about themselves and their ideas that they have to oppress all discussion and dissent, whether by force or by decrying any contrary opinion as treason or lunacy. • Fear doesn’t deal in fact. It lives in untruth and rumor, like a modern politician. It’s a voracious weed that needs just a whiff of uncertainty to thrive, because fear needs to conceal itself from plain sight in order to be really effective. • In fact, going by feel without having an idea of where you are in the scheme of things will often get you in very big trouble in lifeAstute Observations • As my late-night show came to an end, I kind of went to pieces. It’s not that I didn’t want to leave; I did, but even if I had not, I felt that there was a change in the wind, that the late-night television world was resetting itself and there was no longer a place for someone like me. • Loyalty is not borne so much out of admiration or respect for their candidate, but more out of the hatred of the opponent. • The look of utter terror on that poor man’s face. It wasn’t a face built for fear; it was a face for beer and fun and laughing and life. Maybe sadness, but not fear. Seeing fear on that face was an abomination; it was terrifying, but it was the noise that shocked me more. Davie was wailing like a giant terrified child. • But more importantly he taught me about connection, that sense of cheeky impudence that I believe is essential for a comedian. • So in order to keep bad things from happening, it would seem to make sense to worry about them as a preventative measure. If you don’t worry about things, then they happen. • I began to realize that I had a responsibility toward him that transcended my own comfort. I believe this is at the core of real love. • There’s nothing sexual for the victim of a so-called sexual assault. That experience belongs to the predator. Call the assault brutal or criminal or disgusting, but calling it sexual in a headline is disingenuous.Across the Atlantic • James Joyce said of sentimentality that it was “unearned emotion,” which I imagine is a belief he must have picked up from his Irish mother. • I reject the idea that inheritance is worthy of social status. I resent that the old-boy network propels others forward while leaving others behind regardless of ability. • My father always told me, “If you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late,” and I believe that to be true. • There is the notion that if you have to be diligent and industrious and persistent at a creative venture, then you must not be very good. • He and his hundreds of thousands of brothers-in-arms who marched away to war and never returned are at the root of a titanic melancholy and despair which is still palpable in Britain today. Not just because of the horrific carnage or the despicable propaganda that they were laying down their lives to end war in the world rather than being abused in the death throes of feudalism in service of a twisted spat between Victoria’s children. • I believe the real reason that the Brits love the monarchy is their inherent love of theater and gossip, both of which the royal family provide. The pageantry and ceremony of the religious and military roles played by the queen and her family is nice, especially along with the more relatable but still salacious family tribulations. • Like most Scots I have a profound emotional connection to this time of year; it plays into our dramatic, cinematic sense of ourselves and affords us the opportunity to gaze glassy-eyed into the distance and feel emotions about loss and hope that frankly we don’t usually have time for. • “The best thing that ever came out of Scotland was the road to England.”Beautifully Constructed Sentences • It also seems to me that the phrase riding the elephant contains a perfect description for a life which seems to take any direction it chooses, paying scant attention to my instructions or commands. The big gray fucker just goes where it wants. • 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. • A job on “ra mulk” was highly prized among my contemporaries. I remember the solitude of these mornings as some of the most beautiful and evocative moments of my early life. The sunrise in the west of Scotland is incandescent and sometimes—often—it’s the only time of the day when it doesn’t rain. • It horrifies me now to think of the amount of nighttime drunken swimming I’ve done in my life. I wouldn’t so much as take a bath in candlelight these days, but I was a wilder version of myself then. • In my memory now I still do as I did that day. I brush off the loose stones and debris that attached to me after my fall, and this can’t be true but it is. In the clouds ahead I see your face and the faces of our children and I smile and then I roar with delight as I run as fast as I can toward you.
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  • Ange
    January 1, 1970
    It’s through a collection of essays that we get to see more of an intimate portrait of the late night television host and comedian, Craig Ferguson. While I preferred his other books more, this was an intriguing read and above all, filled with that which makes us all human and makes us realize we’re not all that different.
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  • Jake
    January 1, 1970
    “Couldn’t put it down” is a statement often associated with thrillers and mysteries. These genres come packed with suspense. Yet, memoirs and essay collections can also be hard to put down, even when they contain very little suspense. Such is Craig Ferguson’s new monologue-style book of essays, Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations. I didn’t read it in one sitting; my schedule didn’t allow that. But each time I sat down to read a couple mo “Couldn’t put it down” is a statement often associated with thrillers and mysteries. These genres come packed with suspense. Yet, memoirs and essay collections can also be hard to put down, even when they contain very little suspense. Such is Craig Ferguson’s new monologue-style book of essays, Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations. I didn’t read it in one sitting; my schedule didn’t allow that. But each time I sat down to read a couple more chapters, I found myself wanting to spend all the time I could with the book.If, like me, you’ve already read Mr. Ferguson’s autobiography, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, then bear in mind Riding the Elephant is not a sequel to that book. It covers some of the same ground, but in a profoundly different way. This book is not a single narrative, nor a chronological one. It is more of a reflective work rather than a narrative. Each chapter is essentially a monologue mingling memory and rumination. There are new anecdotes enriched by years of hindsight.Like many people, I came to know Craig through his decade as host of <.i>The Late Late Show on CBS. Craig’s relaxed, improvisational approach to the show was refreshing and his perspective delightful. I was disappointed when he gave it up. And honestly, I haven’t followed his career closely since he abandoned the show, and by extension me. Intentionally, this book revisits his monologue style from that show. I laughed out loud often. Yet the book is far more than comedy. Honestly, considering all the perspective and gratitude he seems to have acquired, I think this book is the most brilliantly enjoyable Craig has ever been.This book reminded me of The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s last book. I devoured that one, and for the same reason I relished Riding the Elephant. I felt like I was spending time with the author, like it was him and me sitting on a bench somewhere sipping our favorite beverages and conversing without feeling rushed. If you’ve considered yourself a true fan of Craig at any point in his career, Riding the Elephant is a must read. It will be time well spent.
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  • Harold
    January 1, 1970
    I am a big Craig Ferguson fan. The truth is, I know him. He is funny and genuine, whether on camera or not, and he has a habit of smiling, being witty, and saying things that are bit smarter than the conversation he is having. That comes through here, in this glib, introspective memoir that more than occasionally says things which may have been true for Craig, but should be true for all of us. You will smile a lot, and learn something about Craig, but also about yourself. Craig has had a winding I am a big Craig Ferguson fan. The truth is, I know him. He is funny and genuine, whether on camera or not, and he has a habit of smiling, being witty, and saying things that are bit smarter than the conversation he is having. That comes through here, in this glib, introspective memoir that more than occasionally says things which may have been true for Craig, but should be true for all of us. You will smile a lot, and learn something about Craig, but also about yourself. Craig has had a winding journey, with more than a few demons he has fought and tamed, with a sense both of the battle and irony, and comes out the other side, if this is the other side, as a truly nice, warm and smart guy. Read it, and perhaps you will too.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    Funny thing.As far as life experiences go, Craig Ferguson and I couldn't be more polar opposites.But one thing we do have in common is having defied the odds.We're both still here walking the earth.He achieved this by defeating the demons that controlled his addictions and me by defeating a catastrophic illness in 2018.We're both survivors.We both had more reasons to stay than to go. So we fought and we won.And despite how different we are, it amazes me how similarly we think about things.I love Funny thing.As far as life experiences go, Craig Ferguson and I couldn't be more polar opposites.But one thing we do have in common is having defied the odds.We're both still here walking the earth.He achieved this by defeating the demons that controlled his addictions and me by defeating a catastrophic illness in 2018.We're both survivors.We both had more reasons to stay than to go. So we fought and we won.And despite how different we are, it amazes me how similarly we think about things.I loved this book.Another great read from Craig.
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  • Joe Slavinsky
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had just finished a rather depressing fictional novel about a comedian, and was hoping this wouldn't be similar. I'm happy to report that this book was just the opposite. I found it up-lifting. It's a well-told story of what Mr. Ferguson has gone through, since his early alcoholic days. It's pithy, and sad, and yet laugh-out-loud funny. I never watched his late-night show, when it was on. I've only seen highlights on YouTube. I found him funny, and I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had just finished a rather depressing fictional novel about a comedian, and was hoping this wouldn't be similar. I'm happy to report that this book was just the opposite. I found it up-lifting. It's a well-told story of what Mr. Ferguson has gone through, since his early alcoholic days. It's pithy, and sad, and yet laugh-out-loud funny. I never watched his late-night show, when it was on. I've only seen highlights on YouTube. I found him funny, and engaging on TV, and that goes double in this book.
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  • Cathy Craigmile
    January 1, 1970
    Love this book!Love love love this book! If your not familiar with Mr Ferguson first biography this is a good book to rwad as a a stand alone book, bur irs a great book to read as follow up to that.It was funny and sad, raw and if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction I highly recommend this book! But this book is about much more then his battle with alcohol.The ending had me in tears in a good way
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  • Stefan Fergus
    January 1, 1970
    3.5*Interesting anecdotes. Some of the stories weren't new to me (maybe they were in his stand-up shows?), but nevertheless each chapter/scenario was engagingly written, often amusing (if not laugh-out-loud-funny, which I don't think was the point anyway), sometimes touching.If you're a fan of Ferguson's memoir, "American On Purpose", then I think you'll find this an interesting and worthwhile addendum.
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  • John McGinnes
    January 1, 1970
    This book reminded me of all the stories that my father used to tell me while he was alive. Always funny and often beautiful, with a surprisingly precise life lesson. Borrowed it from the library for two weeks and read it in two days. After it goes back to the library I will be buying a copy to keep. That's the highest praise I can give a book. Absolutely wonderful!
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  • Adriana
    January 1, 1970
    I so love the way he writes...Craig was one of the first writers who encouraged me to step out of the darkness and into the light. I have missed him, he has a way of describing the horrible hold alcohol can have. It takes someone to be real and honest and vulnerable in order for us to see. I can't thank him enough, he is a truly gifted spirit.
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  • Beth Duke
    January 1, 1970
    It’s not hard to adore a book by Craig Ferguson, especially if you’re already a fan of his witty, self-effacing humor. “Riding the Elephant” was a visit with an old friend, one who always makes me laugh and leaves me teary-eyed, too. This is a lovely book. Read it.**Do not read it if you are a serious devotee of cargo shorts.
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  • Sylvan
    January 1, 1970
    Everything there is to love about CraigThis is a memoir to savor. Each chapter can stand alone, but also works together in a mosaic of laughter, triumph, tears, and humility. Craig as this being human thing down, and anyone who lets his words in will be better for the time he entertained them.
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  • Herb Hastings
    January 1, 1970
    This book is so much more that the usual ghost written celebrity memoir. Ferguson is an excellent writer. The content of this work gives a glimpse of the inner working of a complex mind. It is funny, honest, sad, and ultimately hopeful. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Phoebe Baker
    January 1, 1970
    Makes me miss Craigs presence all the more. I will make a point of attending another of his touring shows as I did a couple years or so ago. Som refreshingly honest. No pretense. This book is such too. Never tire of him.
  • Aaron Culley
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this book made me realize how much I miss seeing Craig Ferguson on TV. While he seems perfectly happy to be done with hosting a talk show (something he mentions more than once in this book), his departure left a void that I don't think anyone else can ever fill.
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  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    EnjoyableI miss Craig each evening as he was the only late night host that distance himself seriously. I've read his other books and this one has less feeling than the orhers. I still enjoyed it but American on Purpose is his best.
  • Pam Mooney
    January 1, 1970
    Highly entertaining! Sometimes reflective and sometimes laugh out loud funny. Should be required reading for high school and/or college seniors. May be give them perspective as they enter the real world. Everything it advertises itself to be and 100 times more. A good read.
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  • Debby
    January 1, 1970
    Adore him, his humor, voice...etc...
  • Lisa Hillmer
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written, engrossing stories on scribd narrated by Craigy Ferg himself ☺
  • Juan Rincón Escalante
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. It is funny, but it is also extremely insighful. Ferguson is a voice of wisdom to listen to. I heard it in Audiobook form, which made it so much better. Give it a try.
  • Griffin Muli
    January 1, 1970
    A delightfully upbeat and hilarious reflection on a fascinating, semi complete life
  • James
    January 1, 1970
    A well-written and funny collection of personal essays.
  • Nancy J. Gilbert
    January 1, 1970
    This man fascinates me. He's written 3 books, all wonderful. His take on politics and social media are spot on. And, bonus, he's wonderfully funny.
  • Barb
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely!
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