For living his Hollywood dream in Springfield.
Jeff Houghton wears a lot of hats. The list includes creator of The Mystery Hour, TV personality, Instagram husband, writer, producer, father and actual husband. And while his accomplishments continue to pile up—such as his 2016 Emmy win for the mega-popular Instagram Husband video—it’s his unabashed love for Springfield that sets him apart in our eyes. Houghton’s on a mission to make everyone love Springfield as much as he does, one hilarious skit at a time.
What ah-ha moments have been crucial to your success?
“This sounds so simple, but all these ideas I have, I can just do them. I used to have a lot of ideas and think someone should do that, and now I’m like, ‘Oh, I can do it.’ And going to Los Angeles was a huge deal to me. I didn’t know how much confidence it was going to take. So the realization for me was decide to do something and then figure it out. I didn’t know how scary and hard this was going to be, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”
What’s the thing that drives you?
“Fear of failure. That’s half-joking. I think probably deep down it’s real. It’s just not something you say in a magazine. The other side of that is that I always see the potential in things and want to work to reach that potential. So the flip side of that is I can get too much like, ‘Oh but we aren’t there yet. Let’s work on these things to get there.’ That’s the side that annoys me, but the good side of it is I do see the potential of everything, and so I think that drives me.”
How would you like to see 417-land change in the next decade?
“One, I would like to see more diversity and more of a celebration of diversity. Where I’m from, Iowa City, it’s probably a similar city demographically but it really celebrates diversity and values it. I’d like to see Springfield value that diversity more. Two, more pride in the area. Springfield has a great creative community—better than you would expect for a city this size I think, and I’d love to see that grow. I’d love to see Springfield become that creative hub. There’s also a big poverty problem. Domestic violence is a big issue.”
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
“The best thing is doing all of these things creates a deadline for all of my creative ideas, which is what every creative person needs. It’s funny because creative people have creative ideas for things, but it’s really hard to make yourself do it unless you have a deadline. So we schedule the shows, and then we have a deadline. It’s given me the opportunity to pursue all off these creative things and actually see the finished product.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“My friend Dana Powell said this to me. She’s in LA; she’s from here but a working actress out there. She said somebody told her this: success in Hollywood—but maybe this pertains to everyone—comes down to two of three things: talent, luck and perseverance. You can’t do it with just one, but you don’t need all three. So if you have talent and luck, and you get discovered, that gets you there. If you have talent and perseverance, that get you there. If you have luck and perseverance, that gets you there.
“And then Yakov Smirnoff was one of our early guests on the show back in, like, 2007. I was asking him, ‘Do you have any advice for the show?’ and he said, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing and get better, and then you’ll be ready when the opportunity comes.’ So the fact that [The Mystery Hour is] not nationally syndicated right now doesn’t bother me so much because I know how much better we’re getting all the time. Then if the opportunity presents itself, we’ll be ready.”