Canberra is the joke that keeps on giving for US talk show host Craig Ferguson, who now says he was joking when he apologised for "bad-mouthing" the city.
And the comedian anointed to succeed late-night TV legend David Letterman at the CBS network has taken aim at The Canberra Times for its reporting of his recent sledging of the Australian capital.
"Even though it's been reported in the Canberra local paper that I did apologise let me assure I did not [expletive censored] apologise," Ferguson declared on The Late Late Show broadcast in the US on Monday.
"What happened was that I apologised to a guest on the show who was an Australian.
"I love Australia. I don't know anything about Canberra. I probably said some naughty things about Canberra as a [expletive censored] joke when I was talking to an Australian.
"If that upset you may I suggest you concentrate on something else."
As canberratimes.com.au and The Sunday Canberra Timesreported at the weekend, Ferguson asked Australian actor Toni Collette, a guest on his program late last week, to "apologise to everybody" for him when she went home after he had earlier bagged Canberra as "a [profanity censored] dump".
"I'm sorry, " he told The Sixth Sense star. "I meant no offence at all. I love Australia. I'm a big fan of your animals that keep other animals in their pockets."
Ferguson's Canberra-bashing two weeks ago sparked an online outcry at canberratimes.com.au and prompted Australian actor Guy Pearce, who had joined in the comedian's jibes, to apologise for behaving like "a dickhead".
On Monday's edition of his show, which is screened overnight in Australia on digital channel Eleven, Ferguson hauled three Australians out of his Los Angeles studio audience and told them that "the Australian press have been giving me a very hard time recently".
"They have called me all sorts of names because they said I hated Canberra which I don't," the Scottish-born funnyman said.
"I've never been to Canberra. I didn't really have any feelings about Canberra until the Canbrans or Canboronions -- what do you call them? --Canbooroons, the people from Canberra [became] very angry with me.
"They said I was bad-mouthing their town and apparently you are not allowed to bad-mouth the town of Canberra unless you are actually from Australia."
Asked by the host if this was true, Aussie studio audience member Patrick, from Sydney, said "Yes, very much so."
Ferguson said he had always been very fond of Australians.
"I love Australia, the parts of it that I have seen," he said. "And the way you all smell slightly of beer. Now I'm going to apologise."