Happened to tune in Craig Ferguson on Monday night (I was doing due diligence on the David Letterman-Sarah Palin flap), and caught this very funny bit at his desk where he talked about why media buyers covet younger demographics.

Ferguson  The theory, Ferguson said, is “If you buy a product when you’re 18 or 19 years old, you’ll stick with that product your whole life. And I’m like, ‘Are you crazy? I was buying cocaine when I was 19. I’m not buying it anymore.”

Interestingly, that really is part of the reasoning behind the infatuation with adults 18-34 and teenagers — that marketers hope to hook them young and reel them along throughout life, moving them on to more expensive brands within the same corporate family. We can all see how well that worked out for General Motors.

Ferguson doesn’t strike me as a suck-up-to-the-boss type, but mocking the whole young-adult-target thing on the oldest-skewing of the major broadcast networks isn’t a bad career move. After all, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has joked that the only “upscale” 18-to-34-year-olds that he knows are his kids — and they’re getting their money from him, an “upscale (and then some)” 50-something.

Mostly, though, what really impressed me is just how loose Ferguson is. Not everything works, but unlike, say, Jimmy Fallon — who essentially tries to foster the illusion of spontaneity — he does seem to be creating a lot of the show on the run, riffing freely and at least appearing to fly without a net.  On Monday, that included a silly gag about gay penguins in a German zoo — with Ferguson particularly tickled by the fact that the penguins were German, not gay.

Fortunately for Ferguson, this satisfied customer still falls within a couple of important demographics. Now if only I could stay up that late on a weeknight.