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Cannonball Read #50: American on Purpose

05/28/2010

Sara read and recommended American on Purpose – The Improbably Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson on Pajiba — Thanks Sara- I really enjoyed this book! Unlike Sara, I don’t regularly watch the Late Late Show, but I always appreciate when my Tivo auto-records Eddie Izzard on that show.  When someone like Izzard is promoting something big, you know the drill – he winds up on several late night or talk shows. Most hosts awkwardly run through the routine with him, but Craig Ferguson really seems to enjoy his guests. In fact, I think I read an interview with him once where he said that he only had guests on his show that he was interested in.

American on Purpose details Craig Ferguson’s life growing up in Scotland, his entry into show business, and his alcoholism and recovery. Ferguson tries to make his way, but having turned to alcohol and drugs early in his life, he’s not very successful at anything. Not even suicide. While he is seriously considering killing himself, a friend offers him some sherry on Christmas morning, and he numbs the pain and forgets his suicidal intent.

People who have never gotten drunk in the morning have no idea just how therapeutic it can be for alcoholics.
In fact, it saved my life.

In 1991, though, Ferguson connects with an old friend who had gotten sober who says he had been waiting for him to call. He makes the choice to get sober, and finally makes his way to America where he lands the role on The Drew Carey Show. The rest is history.

Ferguson tells us his life’s story with self deprecating wit, and honesty. He seems like a happy, genuine guy, who appreciates his lot in life, and his new country.

Americans taught me failure was only something you went through on the way to success, not just in the sense of career or wealth but as a person. I learned that failure is only failure, and that it can be useful, spun into a story that will make people laugh, and maybe every once in a while give a message of hope to others who might need some.

This honest, hopeful story can be inspiring to anyone, not just aspiring comedians. I highly recommend it.

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