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Who Is Geoff Peterson?

A biography of the ‘Late Late Show’ robot sidekick


Geoff Peterson, the Late Late Show's robot sidekick
Jodi K./Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

If you're wondering about Craig Ferguson's sidekick - as in, "I wonder, is Craig Fergson's sidekick a robot?" - then wonder no more. Geoff Peterson is a robot. A robot skeleton with a metal Mohawk, to be exact. And he is, in fact, the Late Late Show sidekick.

Peterson was born from Ferguson's desire to have a sidekick. According to reports, way back in 2010, Ferguson was dismayed that his late night talk show didn't have a sidekick, let alone a house band. Ruminating on this, Ferguson mentioned that what he really wanted was a robot skeleton army, something akin to the T-1000s in The Terminator (that's the character Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous).

Hearing this, Grant Imahara (you'll know him best as the robotics expert on Discovery Channel's Mythbusters), offered to build Ferguson a robot skeleton if - and only if - Ferguson could help Imahara get 10,000 followers on Twitter.

Ferguson did. In 24 hours.

So Imahara built him the 'bot. And the robot skeleton with the Mohawk, glowing blue eyes, post-apocalyptic jacket and Price is Right nametag was born. Imahara worked on the 'bot during weekends. He built him a lot like two other famous robots Imahara has built, as a special effects professional: R2-D2 and The Energizer Bunny.

First appearance
Peterson made his debut on April 5, 2010. His head, limbs and jaw are all animatronic, and he is played and operated by voice actor Josh Robert Thompson. Thompson is best known for his Schwarzenegger impression from The Howard Stern Show.

Originally, Ferguson saw him as a bit of an anti-sidekick. Some monstrous construct that would satirize the late night genre. Instead, because of Thompson's performance and rapport with Ferguson, Peterson became a genuine sidekick.

His name comes directly from Ferguson's mind. Imahara says that an online poll saw fans suggesting names like "Roboskelly." "And Craig just said, 'No, the name is Geoff Peterson,'" says Imahara. And that was that.

Peterson has undergone a number of upgrades over the years. He originally only spoke seven pre-recorded phrases. But upgrades to wireless and, eventually, head and arm movements, were made.

The biggest "upgrade," however, was the decision to make Thompson the full-time voice and operator behind Peterson.

Thompson took over a few weeks after Peterson's debut (Ferguson voiced the robot previously). He voiced many of the pre-recorded phrases before performing the robot live in-studio on a semi-regular basis in early 2011. Then, in June 2011, Thompson came aboard the Late Late Show as a regular performer, voicing and operating Peterson for every episode.

When Thompson is available, Peterson is usually voiced by celebrity guests, including Alfred Molina, Dominic Monaghan, Paula Poundstone, Jason Schwartzman and Shadoe Stevens. Comedian Thomas Lennon will occasionally sub as an alternate persona, Khloe Banderas.

Fans see Peterson most often when he's helping answer tweets and email. And fans are used to Ferguson poking fun at the robot, usually taunting him about his inability to walk freely or use both arms.

Fun Facts:

  • Peterson debuted on April 5, 2010
  • Peterson travelled with Ferguson when he taped shows overseas
  • Josh Robert Thompson, the voice of Geoff Peterson, is from Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Grant Imahara, Mythbuster, will come to Peterson's aid when he is broken and in need of repair
  • Talk show host Regis Philbin is "in love" with robot, after questioning his abilities originally
  • Thompson describes Peterson's voice as "one part Snagglepuss, one part Vincent Price, two partsGeorge Takei".
  • Peterson is often seen feuding with actress Kristen Bell. But it is supposed that this feud was reconciled when the two were in Paris for the Late Late Show's overseas excursion. This remains to be seen.
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