Late night show urban legends….

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May 18, 2014 by kittynh

Thanks to Jim again for helping out while I adjust to my new medication and deal with my illness.  Modern medicine is wonderful, but can require much patience and perseverance to work.  I’m hanging in there, though contemplating having a homeopathic sip or two of water over the next few hours.

What's on tonight? Urban legends!

What’s on tonight? Urban legends!



Writer’s note: Reaching once again in the archive of old blogs I have written, I have found this gem that is timely owing to the recent announcement of Craig Ferguson stepping away from late night television. Which is unfortunate, because, in my opinion,Craig was the best of the current bunch. And in the interest of full disclosure, I unashamedly admit that Craig is one of my man crushes. So, with some updates and expansions, here is that post from my blog at, originally posted on3/22/11: 

My man crush for Craig Ferguson aside, I want to point out that occasionally (more like rarely) something happens on his show that bothers this humble skeptic. Over the years, late night television has given viewers countless stories of the celebrity lifestyle. Often the anecdotes by both guests and hosts are funny and entertaining. Sometimes those stories are lies. Come on. You don’t think every one of these people is really that interesting,do you? To be fair to Craig (and why wouldn’t I be?  Man crush, remember?), his isn’t the only late night talk show on which some tales that are just a little too good to be true are told.What happens when a guest (or even the host) wants to have an interesting story to tell, but perhaps their real lives and histories aren’t that interesting or funny? Well, they pullout an urban legend and pass it off as though it was a true story that happened to a friend or a friend of a friend. I’ve seen it happen twice on Craig’s show and once on Letterman’s show.Those were the times I had caught the deception. Who knows how many times this has happened since late night talk shows were invented?

On Monday, 3/21/11, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was a repeat (yes, I watched it anyway) and it featured Craig, himself, relating a humorous anecdote from his teenage years to his guest Denis Leary. He told of a friend (see?) who while a teenager was “caught” masturbating by his mom.The story went like this… Craig’s friend was in his bedroom, listening to music through his headphones. They were those big clunky 70s style headphones and he had his music playing loudly, when Craig’s friend felt that certain urge and decided to relieve himself without removing his headphones. And, apparently, without ever opening his eyes.

Minutes later, he finishes. In the afterglow, he looks over to his nightstand and there placed lovingly by his mother was a sandwich and a glass of milk. No, they weren’t there before he started his self massage session. Uncomfortable laughter ensued. Denis looked stunned as he cracked up. Later, Craig even played out the scene in the role of the mother quietly placing the meal next to her self-abusing son. I’m a skeptic and I thought the story sounded just too good. It had all the elements of an urban legend. So, I did what good skeptics should always do: Research. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of digging. A quick visit to found the answer.

The story has its variants, but Craig told an urban legend that Snopes calls “A Tea-Birdin the Hand”. One version of the story has the “friend” putting a pair of panties, stolen from some crush, over his head so he doesn’t see Mom bring his tea.Funny story, but not true.As I indicated, this wasn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened.

Nothing keeps a mum from bringing tea

Nothing keeps a mum from bringing tea

And try as I might, I couldn’t find a video clip of Craig telling his tall tale, but I had better luck with the next two items:A while back on Craig’s show, guest, Elizabeth Banks told of her girlfriend who left a bag of poop on her one-night stand’s counter top and then locked herself out of the apartment. Ms Banks passed it off as being something that happened to a “friend” of hers. Click here to watch Elizabeth Banks tell her “true” story.

I might have believed her story if not for the fact that a co-worker had told me the exact same story about a “friend” of his a couple of weeks before Elizabeth’s Late Late Show appearance. Believe me! He does not have the same “friend” as Elizabeth Banks.

At the time he told his anecdote, I did a little pooping (pun!) of his party by saying that storyseemed a bit too good. I was reserving judgment, when the Late Late Show sealed the deal.Funny story, but not true.Next we set the Way Back Machine to 1985 and examine a certain Douglas Adams’ appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Back then I was a huge fan of the show. It was must see for me every night. In those days, Dave was the best.

I could go on, but the point of this piece is not to praise David Letterman. Nor to bury him.Douglas Adams, of course, is the author of the very popular ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series and it was for the fourth book of the sci-fi trilogy (that’s right, four books in the trilogy) that he was appearing as a guest on Dave’s show.

He told the story of a stranger, completely uninvited, sharing the biscuits (Adams is British and that is what the Brits call cookies) Adams had just purchased along with a newspaper while waiting to board a train. Being British, he refrained from saying or doing anything to the biscuit stealing stranger. And, so, it went. Adams and the stranger each taking biscuits from the packet until all the biscuits were gone, the stranger had left, Adams’ train was called, and it was then that he found the packet of biscuits he had purchased hiding under his newspaper. It was he who was the thief.

When I first wrote this post, I was going from memory, so I didn’t remember who the guest was and I had forgotten a couple of the details. Fortunately, there is YouTube and you can watch the segment here:

The story had stuck in the recesses of my memory for many years and, one day, while reading the Big Book of Urban Legends, I was astonished to find that biscuit thief story!Funny story, but not true.Well, as says about the biscuit thief story, a similar incident may have actually happened to Douglas Adams, but the legend goes much farther back than Adams’ anecdote.

I've heard this story, only as someone has bought a salad or lunch, it's even been made into an award winning short movie.-Kitty

I’ve heard this story, only as someone has bought a salad or lunch, it’s even been made into an award winning short movie.-Kitty

Knowing that urban legends are being offered as true humorous anecdotes by guests and hosts on the late night talk circuit makes me question the veracity of any of their stories. Oh,well, it’s late night TV fare, I shouldn’t get too worked up. Or should I? As most skeptics surely already know, these and other urban legends can be found on

Jim ‘Dr. Dim’ Fitzsimon lives in St. Paul, MN and works as an office manager for a janitorial service. He is a graphic artist, cartoonist, and portrait artist. He has a wife, Amy, and a ten year-old son, Hayden. Jim hosts his own internet radio program (Saturday nights at 11 Central) called Dimland Radio on the Z Talk Radio Network at Z Talk Radio is mainly a pro-paranormal station and Jim is their resident skeptic. You can view his online portfolio, buy stuff at his CafePress shop, and read his blog at Please like his Dimland Radio page on Facebook. It will make him smile.


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