046: How To Host Your Own Late Night Talk Show (Jeff Houghton)

Jeff Houghton

Have you ever taken a chance in your career and it didn’t work out? Or have you ever NOT taken that chance and regretted it? If so, then you’ll want to listen to today’s show and our guest, Jeff Houghton. Jeff is a late night talk show host…not in Hollywood or New York, but in Springfield, Missouri! His show, The Mystery Hour, airs on the local Fox affiliate KRBK, Saturdays at 9:00pm.

One of the most important life lessons Jeff learned after chasing dreams of being an actor in Los Angeles is that success may be waiting for you in your own backyard. Join us as we talk about all of this and more on the 46th edition of How’d You Get Into That?.


Jeff had a variety of interests growing up and says his life has often been defined by indecisiveness, a.k.a. “keeping all doors open.” After he graduated high school, it took him a long time to decide which college to go to. Then it took him a while to figure out his major. And he had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do after graduation!

Jeff found himself applying for several different internships at the university career center, one of which was The Late Show with David Letterman. As a kid he loved watching Whose Line is it Anyway? and had always been a fan of comedy, so he went for it. And he got it!

He loved working at The Late Show, but quickly realized it was still just a job, and that you really have to like the daily work once you get past the awe and glamour of it. More importantly, he realized he wanted to be in front of the camera as a performer, not behind it.

Along the way he met Michelle his girlfriend, now wife, at a Young Life camp. Things were getting serious so he had a decision to make: move to New York and pursue comedy, or move to Springfield to pursue a life with Michelle. He chose Michelle. Shortly after moving there, he saw a show at the Skinny Improv. That’s when he knew he just couldn’t watch another show…he HAD to be the one performing. Jeff knew that if he didn’t try it, he wouldn’t be happy so he got started with improv classes.


  • Why stressing out over finding “that one thing” is useless.
  • What an internship is like at The Late Show with David Letterman.
  • How to become the person who takes action instead of sitting on the sidelines.
  • Improv helps you become less judgmental: how and why this is true.
  • How his move to Hollywood impacted his relationship with his wife.
  • And so much more!

And he learned some very important life lessons from the practice of improv, including how to become more supportive of people in his life. During that time, Jeff started a show called The Mystery Hour, which was formatted like a late night talk show but not televised.

As the show developed a following and Jeff experienced a measure of success, he and Michelle started talking about having kids. At that point, he knew had to decide whether or not to pursue his Hollywood dreams while he still had a chance. They talked it over and opted for him to go to L.A. while she stayed behind in Springfield. He knew it was crazy because they had an established life in Springfield, but he just had to take the chance.

Though his big Hollywood dreams did not work out, he at least had the certainty one can only get by making the decision and actually going for it. It also taught him how to constantly put himself out there, facing rejection over and over again, which allowed him to become immune to the fear.

After he came back from Hollywood, he discovered a television station in town that was looking for local programming. He called them and said he had a show called The Mystery Hour. They were interested, and the rest as they say, is history. The original show he developed at the Skinny Improv was now a full-fledged televised late night talk show! Success was indeed waiting for him in his own backyard.

Please join me in thanking Jeff for sharing his knowledge and insights with us today; it was a pleasure to hear of his firsthand experiences in Hollywood and on late night TV, and what it took for him to pursue his dreams that eventually led him back to his own backyard. Thanks for being here and we’ll see you next time!

Tweetable: Putting yourself out there is like a muscle: you have to exercise it.” Jeff Houghton


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