Mr. Ferguson Goes to Washington
Review of Craig Ferguson's Appearance at the Warner Theatre 14 July 2007
First Visit to DC
It was a riot!
People were rolling in the aisles and sides were splitting, notwithstanding, that we were all still sitting firmly in our seats!
Initially, the two comedians were unsure whether the audience really liked them.
Welcome to Washington, DC, the home of the politest and least-responsive audience in North America! (And that includes Canada.)
They needn't have worried, the Warner Theatre, which literally is a stone's throw from The White House, was jam-packed!
The only ‘heckler’ was a lovely lady in the front orchestra who reminded Randy Kagan, after his diatribe against the French, that it was Bastille Day. (Like he cared!) The loudest outburst came from the only Canadian in the audience. The only groupie, was a another bold and gutsy, middle-aged lady who demurely walked up to the stage and placed a Beanie Baby on it as an offering to Mr. Ferguson. (He noted that it took courage to do that!) There were only ten middle-aged (and older) people waiting at the door for him to come out. No bouncers were needed. Blame it on Homeland Security: no one gets out of line here!
Despite the well-dressed (except for the gentleman in the front row sporting a incongruous Hawaiian shirt, which became a fitting target for Randy's slings and arrows; surely this had to be a set-up, only tourists or Parrotheads wear Hawaiian shirts in DC!), predominantly WASP audience with natural Botox-like expressions and demonstrating restrained applause, we all truly appreciated and enjoyed the rollicking, bawdy, off-the-cuff, silly stream-of-consciousness comedy as served up by warm-up comic Randy Kagan and TV's Craig Ferguson. It was great to be naughty, even vicariously, and tantamount to a contact high; a truly welcomed relief from the usually PC world of scripted politics.
Since this is a PG blog, I cannot go into the substance of the subject matter or serve as a spoiler for those who will be attending subsequent performances around North America'; suffice to say that if you are from France, Belgium, Quebec, Hollywood (LA), Scotland, or if you are gay, well-endowed (male or female), a Scottish mother, lusting after Sean Connery, an ex-wife, contemplating birthing classes, in rehab, on drugs, a cigarette smoker, Paris Hilton, or Tom Cruise, watch out, they take no prisoners! (Thankfully, there was nothing political and I hope that Mr, Ferguson continues this policy even after he becomes a citizen.)
Ferguson did wax lyrical concerning his love for this country, although it was coupled with the mixed message that the initial thoughts about US citizenship were a result of his introduction to drugs and rock ‘n roll concerts by his American cousins. (Tsk. Tsk Tsk.) The story of his own quest, upon his return to Scotland, for a drug to enhance the enjoyment of his favorite rock band's concert was a knock-out!. I hope for his sake,that no one from the INS was in attendance to hear that! (Do I need to put a personal disclaimer against illegal substances in here?)
Never Visited Washington, DC
What astounded me was the fact that Craig Ferguson, in the thirteen years he has lived in this country, had never visited the capital of the United States before! One would think that he would have gone on one of his famous road trips on I95 (DC is at least five miles off I95) from New York or Connecticut and toured here. (I think he's been to Colonial Williamsburg, though.)
However, since he has applied for citizenship (see posting) )and is awaiting not-so-very-patiently for the processing of dilatory paperwork, he should jump into a Ford (the car of choice and sponsor as advertised on his tee shirt) and head for DC and Virginia, when it is not as hot and humid (or ‘soupy’ as he referred to our weather). October and November are the best months; stay away from Easter and Spring Break! Although, a road trip to DC on his Indian motorcycle for Rolling Thunder during Memorial Day Weekend might be appropriate for a truly American experience..
To appreciate Washington, DC to the fullest and navigate easily, he would need a good, flexible itinerary and a knowledgeable and engaging personal tour guide, both of which I could provide. I am, after all, an educational student tour designer and professional guide. (If he can advertise Ford, I can advertise myself!)
A Tour of Washington, DC Designed Expressly for Craig Ferguson
My plan for him would be to go in chronological order:
Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall both might be a good prelude as they represent our colonial roots, the American Revolution, early republic, and the documents that define our national identity. (Gunston Hall is the home of George Mason, the Father of our Bill of Rights.)
Therefore, it should be obvious that the National Archives (NARA) be next on the itinerary. He could get up front and personal with a copy (from 1297, not 1215) of the Magna Carta that spawned the American Charters of Freedom which includes the original Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The NARA always have a couple of good exhibits.
Touring the Three Branches of our Government:
To be a model citizen and have an understanding of civics, it is necessary to learn about the three branches of government; visiting the buildings and observing government in action gives us a tangible connection to our elected officials and an awareness of the responsibilities we have as voters.
The White House is a tricky place to tour as he would either have to contact his Senators and Representative in advance or use some influence through his Hollywood/CBS connections. Other Congressional tours of sites can be arranged through the respective Congressional offices. It’s never a ‘done deal’, but an attempt should be made. (Once upon a time, Elvis walked up to the gate of the White House and handed a note to the Secret Service guards indicating that he wanted to talk with President Nixon about drug enforcement; it was an historic meeting and the photo of the two together has become the best-selling postcard at the National Archives and the Nixon Presidential Library, which has recently been taken over by the NARA. Hmmm, I wonder if that would work for Mr. Ferguson with President Bush?)
A tour of the US Capitol Building and an opportunity to meet with his Senators and/or Representative as well as a chance to see government in action in the respective chambers or at a hearing, is mandatory. Preparing for the visit by watching C-SPAN would be beneficial. If the lantern is lit under the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol dome, then he could go in at night when it is less crowded and perhaps see a vote or two. (It takes a call to the Democratic or Republican cloakrooms of the Senate or House to determine what the schedule is. Call 202-224-3121 and ask for the cloakroom of your political choice; there isn't one for independents, contact Sen Lieberman's and Sen. Sanders' office directly.)
The Supreme Court of the United States should be next on the agenda. If the court is not in session, then one can attend a lecture in the courtroom every hour on the half-hour. When the court is in session, there are two ways to watch the proceedings and both require that one stands in line.
Other Important Sights:
The Library of Congress is also on Capitol Hill and that is a purely wonderful visit. The interior alone is worth seeing. There is a terrific exhibit of the Treasures of the Library of Congress as well as other exhibits (one was on Bob Hope). There is also a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and the Bible of Mainz. The Library does have public tours and it is the only way that one can get up to the viewing area to see the main reading room,which is impressive.
Monuments and memorials should be interspersed throughout the course of the tour. I prefer the following monuments during the day: Washington Monument (get timed tickets in advance online) Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Albert Einstein Memorial, U.S. Air Force Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Memorial, Navy Memorial (the museum is under the memorial), and U.S. Marine Memorial (Iwo Jima). These three memorials are gorgeous in the evening: Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.
Arlington National Cemetery (please see this post.) is one of my favorite places to visit and I highly recommend that one looks up the website and downloads some of the graves and memorials one would like to visit. I personally feel that it is a place one should walk through rather than take the tram. The Kennedy gravesites and the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Servicemen are required. But Mr, Ferguson might like to wander through Section 1 and spend a few moments in front of the Lockerbie Memorial to the 259 victims of terrorism on Pan Am Flight 103 (December 21, 1988) who perished on the flight over Scotland and the 11 Scots on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. The memorial cairn is composed of 270 stones from Scotland.
Naturally, the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art should also be visited throughout the tour. Alas! The National Museum of American Art is closed for two years while they renovate the building.
Another museum that will close for two years at the end of the summer is Ford’s Theatre. However, the Peterson House, where President Lincoln died, will remain open to the public.
A greatly anticipated museum will be opening in their new location in October. The Newseum, dedicated to the history of the news and news-gathering is bigger and better than the original, excellent museum, that was in Rosslyn, Virginia. It will have an IMAX movie and lots of interactive exhibits.
No visit of Washington is complete without paying one's respects at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's permanent exhibit. Daniel's Story: Remember the Children is a fitting introduction. Again, one can get timed tickets well in advance by booking online. This eliminates having to wait on a long line for first come, first served tickets.
Cedar Hill is the Home of Frederick Douglas in Anacostia to learn about this great ex-slave and orator who became a great force in abolition and civil rights.
The Washington National Cathedral is not only an imposing building, but is chock full of American history reflected through the stained glass windows, statues, and carvings. President Woodrow Wilson is interred there, very close to the Space and Technology Window that boasts a moon rock embedded in it.
There are so many other sites and memorials to visit; this is simply a start. Once you've been to this area, it becomes addictive. There is beauty and majesty in this city which reflects the whole of the American experience. I also find the city just as romantic as Paris or Rome, and much cleaner!
I would hope that Mr. Ferguson would also share this with his son before his son visits DC with his school. It would be a wonderful bonding experience and would give his son a better perspective of why his father loves this country so much and not to take US citizenship and freedoms for granted.
It was unfortunate that Mr. Ferguson was so ‘knackered’ after his 1 1/2 hour delivery; the position of, Hardest Working Man in Show Business, is now vacant, and Mr. Ferguson could certainly be a candidate. (He doesn’t normally eat before a show either, from what I understand, so I imagine that a late night meal is a priority.) If he had been a bit livelier afterwards, I would have suggested that he and his colleagues/staff accompany me to at least the Lincoln Memorial to receive perspectives, history, and trivia unavailable by a casual visit. It would have been the least I could do to offer hospitality.
Alas, all I was able to do was to hand him my business card, have a short exchange, and get a picture of us together. Oh well.
Craig Ferguson summed up his rationale for immigrating to the US as opposed to Canada (the usual place for the Scots): “The party is here. Canada is like the apartment above the party where they are banging on the floor to stop the noise.”
Party on!The Tour Marm
Craig Ferguson: Role Model