“Join or Die with Craig Ferguson” (History, 11 p.m.) is a panel discussion show that is about history the way “Real Time with Bill Maher” is about current events. There’s an expert, a couple of pop culture figures and usually a comedian considering important turns in the U.S. past.
As a learning experience it might be actually less informative than Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” which at least tries to keep track on the historical narrative. And because it is on the History channel, that may be a cause for concern. (More late night History channel humor comes next week, with the premiere of a show hosted by Dan Harmon).
“We tend to book comedians because they tend to look at what’s going on around them and be very observant,” Ferguson explained to writers at the TV Critics Association winter press tour. “ What I wanted to achieve with this show is create a show where a real discussion could take place. And by a real discussion what I meant was what we have arguments on the show.”
Sometimes the celebrities surprised him, he said. ”Trace Atkins, for example, the country singer, is encyclopedic about the Civil War.”
Tonight has Jimmy Kimmel, comedian Jen D’Angelo and PR man Howard Bragman discussing who made the biggest blunder, Rod Blagojevich, Herman Cain, Eliot Spitzer and Dick Cheney are among the candidates.
Coincidentally, Ferguson is so into American history he has a tattoo that says “Join or Die.”
“I think History liked the idea of naming shows after my tattoo,” Ferguson said. “If this one doesn’t work out, we’ve also got ‘Mother’ and ‘Father.’”