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“The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton, right, interviews actor Leslie David Baker of “The Office” fame.
SBJ photo by Christine Temple
“The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton, right, interviews actor Leslie David Baker of “The Office” fame.

‘Mystery Hour’ produces record attendance

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“The Office” actor Leslie David Baker helped Springfield’s late-night talk show, “The Mystery Hour,” sell out for the first time in eight seasons.

Frank Gonzales, the show’s operations manager and producer, said around 900 people attended the Feb. 16 event at the downtown Gillioz Theatre. He was unsure of final revenue figures, but noted tickets were $12 apiece and that season ticket holders pay around $14 per show, which gives them first-entry rights, free popcorn and other perks. At those ticket prices, revenue for the Saturday taping equaled nearly $11,000.

“Paul Scheer got pretty close, but this is our first legitimate sold-out show,” Gonzales said, noting the previous attendance record was in the 700s.

During the taping for the show’s eighth season — which airs on 10 television stations in eight states — host Jeff Houghton interviewed Baker, who played Stanley Hudson in “The Office;’ Carmelita Jeter, dubbed the fastest woman alive who’s a three-time Olympic medalist and currently a track coach at Missouri State University; and Spencer Harris and Caleb Stokes, the local creators of board game Party Fowl: The Game of Drunk Ducks.

“The Mystery Hour” crew, which Gonzales said comprises around 45 people, produced and filmed three episodes Saturday night for the 24-episode season. The show hosted musical guests Stevie Newman, the Prismatics and Jonathan Joseph, while Houghton, his wife Michelle, Nate Black, Chad Harris and Mo Holloman performed skits.

Gonzales said the show intends to use Baker’s appearance as a springboard to sell more tickets to the first-time visitors who attended Saturday because they’re fans of “The Office.” Baker, he said, is among the highest-paid actors to which the show has issued an appearance fee. He declined to disclose the appearance fee paid to Baker, noting he was booked through a cold call. According to AllAmericanSpeakers.com, Baker’s booking fee range is $10,000 to $20,000.

“Typically, we pay for their expenses,” he said. “We only have the budget to pay about four or five appearance fees a year at this point.

“When funds are available, we’re trying to reinvest those funds back into the show.”

Gonzales said “The Mystery Hour” crew has its “eye on about four or five exciting guests” coming up, but he declined to name them. Previous guests include actors Samm Levine of “Freaks and Geeks,” Michael McMillian of “True Blood” and Jay Jackson of “Parks and Recreation.”

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