Remember the field day comics had making fun of Britney Spears during her "meltdown" a few years ago? Well, not all comics thought it was so funny. If you caught this the first time around, now would be a good time to re-watch.
Craig Ferguson: For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it. It should be about always attacking the powerful people. Attacking the politicians, and the Trumps, and the blowhards, and the ... go after them. We shouldn't be attacking the vulnerable people, and I think.... this is totally a mea culpa, this is just for me, I think my aim's been off a bit recently. I want to change that a bit. So, tonight, no Britney Spears jokes, and here's why.... here's exactly why, Britney Spears... no, no, no, this is true, wait. I'm not doing them! The kind of weekend she had... she was checking in and out of rehab, she was shaving her head, getting tattoos. That's what she was doing this weekend. This Sunday, I was 15 years sober. So I looked at her weekend, and I looked at my own weekend, and I thought, you know, I'd... I'd rather have my weekend.
But what she's going through reminds me of what I was doing. It's an anniversary, you start to think about it. It reminds me of where I was 15 years ago, when I was living like that. Now, I'm not saying Britney Spears is an alcoholic. I don't know if she's alcoholic or not, I... but she clearly needs help. Now what I do here is I... I speak for myself. The speculation; there's always speculation if you're on television that somebody's behind it, the corporation, the production people, there's no... this is me, alright? It's me and you, right? I'm trying to be honest with you, I'm not an expert on alcoholism or anything else, but I am an expert on my own story. I was there when it happened. Well, I was present. The tape recorder wasn't running until February 18, 1992, and... it made me about the last Christmas that I had when I was a drinking man. Hopefully the last one as a drinking man.
I was in a terrible mess. I wasn't shaving my head and getting tattoos... I saved that for later, I got that for my midlife crisis, but... when I got sobered out, I was a bit older than Britney. I was 29, and Christmas morning before I got sobered, I had been on an all-night bender... and I woke up in a room above a bar. I had been in that pub the night before, it was Christmas Eve, I was going to have a drink and then go home, I was in London, I was going to go to Scotland, but, you know, one thing led to another, I stayed in the room above a pub. I woke up on Christmas morning and I was, you know, soaked in my own urine, and... at least, I think it was mine, I can't be certain. I couldn't say with total honesty that it was my urine; I didn't have it tested, is what I'm saying. I hope to this day it was mine. Anyway... I woke up that morning, now this is... this is the mind of an alcoholic. I woke up that morning, Christmas morning, and I thought, you know what? I can't do this anymore. I'm going to kill myself today. I'm going to do it, today.
And what I did was, I thought... I made a plan as I'm getting myself together, I thought, I'll go down to the Tower Bridge in London, which is the one that goes... when you go like that, that one, and I'll swan dive to my death. I don't know how to swan dive, but I was going to do it, and I thought by showing... you know, by doing this, I'll show them. I don't even know who they were, but I was going to show them, that... I was desperate, I was desperately confused and desperately twisted and turned upside down by whatever the hell was going on in my head. And on the way out of the bar, Tommy, the barman I'd been drinking with... he was kind of playing around at the bar, he was getting drinks together at the bar in the morning, now... he had slept behind the bar all night. I'm not saying he's an alcoholic, but he slept behind the bar... all night. He was an Irish fella, Tommy, and he said to me, "where 'ya going?" And I didn't want to cause a fuss and say, well, you know, I'm going to go to the Tower Bridge and swan dive and kill myself, so I said I'm going home, and he said "To Scotland?" I said yeah, and he said "well... there's no transport, it's Christmas, you can't get a bus, the planes aren't running, there's no... you can't go anywhere." I said, just let me go Tommy, will 'ya? And he said, "well, before you go, have a glass of sherry, for Christmas morning." And I said, oh, all right, all right. So he poured me the type of glass of sherry that only an alcoholic would pour you, a venti sherry, they would call it in Scotland. And I, you know, had my glass of sherry, and... you know, one thing led to another and I forgot to kill myself that day.
Here's the important point. The alcohol saved my life. I was self-medicating; I'm an alcoholic, I needed alcohol. I needed something, you know. And from that point, on, until February 18 the following year, it's all... a bit foggy, you know. I would wake up, and play albums, on a wild bender. I was doing stand-up gigs, apparently. I wish we had tapes of that, I'm sure they were hilarious. Anyway, on the day I finally decided to stop, I called a friend of mine who had disappeared out of the pub world and gotten sober, you know, there was scuttlebutt about them in the bars, and I called them up and I said, I, uh, I need help. And he said, "yeah, I've been expecting this call," and he got me into a rehab. And it wasn't like the way the rehab is, or portrayed in the news outlets at the moment, where all the kind of, you know, Lindsay Lohans and fabulous people all get... my roommate in rehab was a 60 year old... 65 year old vicar, a priest from the Church of England. Who was... he said "yes, well, the thing is, Craig, the parishioners were complaining that all the Communion wine was going missing..." This is true! And he said, "and also, an old lady said there was a hobo sleeping in the church graveyard. I had to pretend to go and look for him, but it was me!" And so what happened is, I stuck with it, I was in there... there's a myth that goes around... popular culture, I think, right now, as well, which is that alcoholism can be cured by a 28 stint in rehab. I'm sorry to annoy the censor, but that is [horseshit]. That is [horseshit]. That is not my experience. For me, there was two types of rehab clinics. There was the good ones that say to you, you know, "you've done your 28 days, this is a beginning, you now have a lifetime of vigilance. This is a chronic condition that you're gonna have to manage, for the rest... deal with for the rest of your life." And the bad ones, the bad rehab centers, will say, "good, good, off you go," you know. The Reverend Ted Haggard [SP], for example, when he gets out of the... the rehab, and is cured of his gayness... this is clearly an unscrupulous bunch of people running that rehab.
The point I'm trying to make to you is this. Now, I have been sober 15 years. There is absolutely no way I have a drinking problem. I don't have a drinking problem! I can get one fast, but I don't... I don't have a drinking problem. I have a thinking problem. I'm 15 years sober. Last week, right, I find out that Guinness has 125 calories a pint, and I, without a warmth of a lie, I think, maybe I should go on a diet. That's clearly insane! What... what Guinness did to me... and I was thinking, well, it's only 125 calories, what can possibly go wrong? I want to... I want to make something clear to you. I'm not advocating temperance, I'm not. I'm not advocating that. I'm saying this is for me, you know. If I could drink, I would drink, but I can't. You can't... you can't say, you know, to kids, "drink responsibly". You can say to me, "drink responsibly", and I'll say I'll try... but I can't. Certain types of people can't drink. I'm one of them. I threw in the towel with alcoholism 15 years ago, and I've been trying for the last 15 years to get little bits of it back, and it looks to me a little bit that Britney Spears has a similar problem going on with alcohol.
This woman has two kids, she's 25 years old, she's a baby herself. She's a baby, you know. And the thing is, you can embarrass somebody to death; it's embarrassing to admit you're an alcoholic. It's embarrassing to wake up in your pee or someone else's pee, it doesn't really matter, it's embarrassing. Now I'm not absolving this woman of her behavior, I'm not, you have to be responsible for your actions. Sick, or well, you have to be responsible for your actions, you just have to be. All of us are accountable. You have to be. If you have... God forbid, you have a kidney problem, you go onto dialysis, it's your responsibility to somehow get yourself to dialysis. It's your responsibility to deal with the condition that you have in whatever way you can. You know, all of us, in America and in Scotland and anywhere I've ever been in my life, everybody knows an alcoholic. They've either... they've worked for one, or they have one work for them, they have a parent, or a sibling, or a child, everybody. There's not one of us... if there's a friend, God forbid some of you poor people are married to them, you know what it's like.
Now, I have found this: you can't beat it with money. If you could beat this rap with money, rich people wouldn't die. You can't. There's... for me, only for me, and I only speak for myself, so I've got to stress this to you, I have found that the only way I can deal with it is find other people who had similar experiences... and talk to them. It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't cost a thing, and they're very, very easy to find, they're very near the front of the telephone book. Good luck!