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"Mystery Jeff" Houghton performed his last Mystery Hour improvised talk show at the Skinny Improv last Friday Feb.4. KSMU's Randy Stewart was one of Jeff's final guests on the show.
(“Magical Mystery Tour” plays in theatre)RANDY: For the past several years, Jeff Houghton of the Skinny Improv has hosted a local talk show… never seen it on any local TV or cable channels, or on the radio? That’s because it wasn’t ON TV or radio—it was performed live once a month, the first Friday of each month, at the Skinny Improv Comedy Theatre on Park Central East in downtown Springfield. Last Friday February 4th, as the snow piled up outside, “Mystery Jeff” Houghton performed his final Mystery Hour show at the Skinny Improv. And I was there… in fact I was one of the guests on the show.ANNOUNCER: “Welcome to the LAST Mystery Hour… tonight’s guests are Randy Stewart… Wes Pratt… now here’s your host, MYSTERY JEFF HOUGHTONNNNN!” (cheers & applause)RANDY: Jeff called the Mystery Hour an “improvised talk show”: not quite a “real” talk show (well, it was real to Jeff!) and not quite a spoof of the talk show genre… but sort of all of the above.JEFF HOUGHTON to audience: How’s it going?AUDIENCE: Woooo!JEFF: Good. Hey, how many of you guys have been to The Mystery Hour before?AUDIENCE cheers…JEFF: How many of you have never been?(some audience cheers)JEFF: Well, it’s the last one… don’t get too attached!RANDY: It was the last Mystery Hour. Jeff and his wife are leaving Springfield for Los Angeles this month, so Jeff can try his hand at acting out there. After working as an intern at David Letterman’s Late Show in New York after college, Jeff credits his years in improv here in Springfield has helping him develop the acting and comedy chops he believes he’l l need in L.A. The Mystery Hour set featured a desk and a couch as you would expect any late-night talk show to have, complete with fancy condenser mike on the desk. Jeff would open each show with a monologue improvised from audience suggestions. There were pre-written comedy bits with his wife and other Skinny Improv players, either performed live or pre-taped and shown on the big video screen, as well as spoof commercials. And Jeff would interview local guests each month. Early on in the run of The Mystery Hour run he had KSMU’s Missy Shelton on as a guest… last Friday it was my turn, on Jeff’s final Mystery Hour.JEFF: Actually, what happened is, I was supposed to do something else and I forgot and went right to you, so…RANDY: Yeah, that’s right—the first commercial.JEFF: Shhhh! (audience laughs)RANDY: Hey, it’s a FAKE SHOW, people, don’t worry about it! It’s a FAKE COMMERCIAL! There’s no money involved!JEFF: Randy Stewart’s just speakin’ the truth!RANDY: I have a bad tendency to do that, actually.JEFF: Yes, so tell us, ‘cause it seems like you must be there at all hours.RANDY: I hear that all the time… I’m there 24/7.JEFF: Are you?RANDY: Not really. You hear 8 hours’ worth of breaks with my voice? I do them between 8 and 9:30 in the morning.JEFF: So you’re telling me that you work an hour and a half a day, 5 days a week?RANDY: No, no… well, okay, yeah. (Audience laughs)RANDY: JUST KIDDING, MSU administration!!Before it was over Jeff had me telling stories… which I’m not very good at, but I was able to put in some good words for KSMU, and we had a good time, I think. They had a capacity crowd of about 260, even with the snow, and they were quite enthusiastic—even though I got the feeling many of them had NO idea who I was! The experience reinforced something I already knew about myself: I much prefer interviewing other people to being interviewed myself! So as Jeff leaves for the West Coast soon, I want to wish him best of luck, and leave him with these words from Bugs Bunny:BUGS BUNNY: Westward, westward, Hiawatha sailed into the fiery sunset. Fare thee well, Hiawatha… fare thee well, oh mighty warrior. (chuckles)