Why Craig Ferguson Refused to Tell 'Britney Spears Jokes' During Her Mental Health Crisis in 2007

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Tomás Mier
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Craig Ferguson took an honorable, yet uncommon stand against telling jokes about Britney Spears after she appeared to publicly struggle with mental health issues in 2007.

As fans discussed Spears' career following the release of the New York Times' unauthorized Framing Britney Spears documentary, a clip of the former Late Late Show host, 58, refusing to tell jokes about Spears, 39, resurfaced. By Tuesday, it had nearly three million views on Twitter.

Referring to how news outlets handled coverage of celebrities, he said, "I kind of had similar feelings when I used to watch America's Funniest Home Videos. You'd be laughing at the kid falling over, and then you'd go, 'Wait a minute, put down the damn camera and help your kid!'"

"I think we're kind of holding the camera, and people are falling apart," Ferguson added. "People are dying. That Anna Nicole Smith woman, she died. It's not a joke. It stops being funny." (Smith died on Feb. 8, 2007 of a drug overdose.)

RELATED: Sam Asghari Breaks Silence on Britney Spears: I'm 'Looking Forward' to a 'Normal, Amazing Future' Together

The host continued by expressing how "uncomfortable" he started to feel about making fun of celebrities in crisis on TV.

"I'm starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people. For me, comedy should have a sentiment of joy in it. It should be about attacking the powerful people. Attacking the politicians, and the Trumps, and the blowhards," he said. "Go after them. We shouldn't be attacking the vulnerable people."

"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 it a bit," he added. "So tonight, no Britney Spears jokes."

Ferguson's comments about Spears were just a short part of a 12-minute monologue, which aired on Feb. 20, 2007, four days after Spears shaved her head during an infamous breakdown. That same weekend, Ferguson said he was celebrating being "15 years sober."

getty images (2)

RELATED: Diane Sawyer Faces Backlash from Britney Spears Fans over 2003 Interview: 'Downright Painful'

"It reminds me of where I was 15 years ago when I was living like that," he said. "She clearly needs help."

The host then went to explain the suicidal thoughts he experienced one Christmas morning when he woke up "soaked in my own urine" and had decided he was going to kill himself.

"I woke up Christmas morning and I thought I can't do this anymore, I'm going to kill myself today. I'm going to do it today," he said. "By doing this, I'll show them. I was desperately confused and twisted by whatever the hell was going on in my head."

Ferguson then recalled telling the bartender that he was going to "go home" to Scotland, instead of explaining his plan to jump off a bridge. Then, the bartender poured him a glass of sherry and invited him to drink it on Christmas.

RELATED VIDEO: Sam Asghari Breaks Silence on Britney Spears: I'm 'Looking Forward' to a 'Normal, Amazing Future' Together

Sam Asghari Breaks Silence on Britney Spears: I'm 'Looking Forward' to a 'Normal, Amazing Future' Together

"I have always wanted nothing but the best for my better half," the Family Business actor tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement

"One thing led to another and I forgot to kill myself that day," he said. "The alcohol saved my life. I needed alcohol. I needed something and from that point on until Feb. 18 the following year, it was all foggy."

"On the day I finally decided to stop, I had called a friend of mine who had gotten sober and I said, 'I need help,'" he added, explaining that the friend put him in rehab. Ferguson didn't have a "drinking problem," he had a "thinking problem," he said.

He then tied his story back to Spears and how young she was at the time.

"The thing is, you can embarrass someone to death. It's embarrassing," he said, before adding, "I'm not absolving this woman for her behavior. You have to be responsible for your actions -- sick or well. You have to be."

Elsewhere in the video, Ferguson reflected on his own actions and how his show can impact others.

"At what price am I doing this stuff? I started to think about the effect it was having on real people. It's been needling at me ever since," he said "I want to be able to be funny but I want to be able to get some sleep."