Not So Late Show‘s Mike Anderson on his upcoming Guinness challenge
According to Guinness World Records, the longest marathon television talk show happened last April, with the record set by Rabi Lamichhane in Nepal. This weekend, Mike Anderson – host of Lawrence’s The Not So Late Show – hopes to blow past Lamichhane’s mind-bending 62 hours and 12 minutes. He’s preparing to attempt 66 hours straight on Lawrence cable channel 6, starting after the news on Friday, July 25, and, he hopes, running until 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 28.
Anderson and I met up at Lawrence’s Bourgeois Pig this past Sunday afternoon to discuss his plans, his training, and the possible obstacles to his Guinness quest.
The Pitch: It’s a very specific record you’re looking to beat.
Anderson: I’d initially contacted them and said, “Hey, I want to set a world record for being on television the longest continuous[ly].” They said, “Hey, there isn’t a record for that.” I was hoping that they’d be like, “Why don’t you set it?” but they were more like, “Why don’t you try this one [longest marathon television talk show] instead?” I looked at it, and it was essentially what I was going for, and was like, “Yeah, cool – I’ll do that.”
What was the impetus – was it something you were looking to do for The Not So Late Show?
This has actually been two years in the making. I wanted to do it a year ago, and [the producers at Channel 6] thought I was kidding. They kind of thought I was joking when I brought it up, and then I brought it up last September. I was like, “I’m dead serious: I want to do this,” and for some reason, around that time, they were like, “Let’s do it, then.”
They gave me the green light to do it, and we literally applied for it in September. Initially, it was going to be in April, but our sales staff didn’t think it was enough time, and then the woman who was organizing everything left. By the time January rolled around, they said April’s a little too close. Plus, with KU basketball – and, apparently, tornadoes are really big in April – they were afraid they’d have to break in, and that would nullify the record.
You obviously have plans in place for content – I’ve seen that people can sign up to be in the audience, and if they’re in the audience enough, they get to be on-air, and things like that.
Also, if you sign 10 people up for four hours, then you get to come up and talk for half an hour. The toughest part of the record isn’t staying up that long, or filling airtime – it’s filling the audience. According to Guinness, we have to have 10 people in the audience at all times. If there’s 10 people in there, and one goes to the bathroom? Poof! Gone. It’s over.
We just need 10 people in there. If you want to come in and sleep, I don’t care Just don’t snore. Now, I am going to try to entertain you. It’s not like during the writer’s strike, when Conan was spinning his wedding ring. It’s not going to be that. We have guests that are coming on, we’re going to do bits, we’re going to do recurring bits, new bits, we’re going to air old bits, and there’s going to be jokes and interviews.
What I’m trying to do do is that – no matter what hours you’re there for, you’ll get your money’s worth, so to speak.
I think everyone can kind of relate to your attempt, because everybody has that time in college where they stayed up for what seemed like an obscene amount of time. I did 56 hours once, and those last six hours are basically just non-stop hallucinations.
Yes. That’s about right. I trained last week and stayed up for 60 hours. It was very, very helpful to know what are the peaks, what are the valley, what medicine or energy drink does what to my body. So, now I’ve got it figured out to where I know what I’m going to need. I was in graduate school at KU for five years and that’s going to help me a lot. You do a couple all-nighters doing that jazz, where you’re trying to read Derrida and all of these dry authors, where it’s basically 300 pages of , “Oh, metaphors? Good …”
I’m actually a wired person. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t drink caffeine. When I grew up, my parents would never ever let me have caffeine, and I just – for some reason – took that into my adulthood, and I cannot stand the taste of coffee. So, when I do have caffeine, it gets me to a new place. The problem with that is that, when the caffeine wears off, my crash is greater than most. Caffeine gets me higher, so that fall is deeper.
If you would’ve driven by my house a week ago last Wednesday, you would’ve seen me out on the lawn, with my headphones blaring as loud as they could go, and me singing at the top of my lungs, just trying to stay awake, because that initial crash after that 5-Hour Energy was so hard. I knew I had to weather that storm, so I’m pacing on my lawn, thinking that, “Well, if I fall over, I’m on my lawn. Maybe someone will call for help.”
Is it just the one practice?
Yes, just the one practice, because you know what? It sucks. I stayed up from Sunday night all the way until Wednesday night. I crashed at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night and slept for 15 hours. The next night, I slept for 12 hours, and after that, I finally felt like I could get back on a normal schedule.
Somebody was asking me, “Why do 66 hours? Why not do 62 hours, 13 minutes?” Because I don’t want to do this again! I’m trying to set it high enough that it’s manageable, but also so high that the people who’ve done it before see it, and are like, “I don’t want to do that again.” I want to bust it. I definitely want to bust it.
The guy who did it before was from Nepal, but now he manages a Subway in Baltimore, so I think I’m OK. I haven’t contacted him about it, because if you look at his Facebook page, it’s all world record stuff. His whole identity is based around this world record.
Oh, lord. You don’t want to be the guy who says, “Hey … by the way, I’m looking to crush your identity.”
I’m hoping he just never finds out. I’m hoping that one day, five years from now, he looks it up and just goes, “Whoah? Five years ago?!” Then again, if he decides to break my record and I’m still around, I’ll go back and forth as long as I can. The only reason I’m not going longer is because they won’t bump the 6 o’clock news for me.
Hopefully, though, the record brings notoriety to the station, the show, and – to be honest, myself. I’ve been doing this since June of 2011, so we’re getting on three years here. I love what I do,and I love this talk-show-host gig, so I’m trying to figure out ways to do something different, that might put me on someone’s radar and allow me to take whatever the next step is.
The Not So Late Show World Record Attempt from Free State Studios on Vimeo.
More information about the Not So Late Show’s world record attempt (as well as audience sign-ups) can be found here.