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Who Works the Night Shift?
Surviving the Night
Talk About It

Night Shift Diary
Will Durst, host and comedian

I know you guys think I'm living the typical debauched life of a big time business kingpin. I'm sorry, but that's CBS, not PBS. To be honest, I haven't pulled an all nighter in ten years.

Being a comic, however, I considered myself used to them. Can't count the number of times we stayed up yakking and quaffing after performing at clubs. Then we managed to navigate our way through San Francisco morning traffic over to the Alex Bennett radio show attempting to be witty and clever before 7 a.m. Not an easy thing to do with a full night's sleep. But back in the middle '80s we were bullet proof.

Then something dreadful happened. Probably just the normal aging process (which is anything but normal whilst it is happening to you). My body just doesn't have the same kind of resilience it did. I've turned into an old rubber band before my very eyes.

Call me a wuss, but I can no longer handle seeing dawn from the wrong end. I like seven hours sleep. Need six. Can get by on five. And when absolutely necessary and have a coterie of guides physically shoving me out of the path of oncoming vehicles, can muddle by with four. I remain convinced anything less than three is useless. Unless augmented by a nap. Three here, three there, that stuff adds up.

So when we talked about doing a show based on the night shift, I mentally strutted in my chair figuring this would be a queen cream dream, since I obviously had spent my formative years inadvertently garnering the proper experience. Heh heh heh. Yeah, right. And formica is edible.

January 12, 2000 Las Vegas, Nevada

Our first shoot was in Las Vegas, the ultimate 24-hour town. We started around 10 p.m. with interviews and exterior shots along the strip. We kept working at various locales: the 24-hour driving range at 3 a.m., followed by the 24-hour day care center. Around 5:30 a.m., we finally ended up at a totally pink pool hall called, appropriately enough, Pink E's. As a group we were so tired, we turned down a second beer that the management offered to buy.

Re-read that sentence if you don't get what I'm saying. A production crew turning down free beers. It was eerie.

February 11, 2000 Stanford Sleep Center, California

Then there was the sleep clinic, where the guy who's supervising the people who have sleep disorders was working on only an hour and half of sleep himself.

And that shot of me sleeping in one of the monitoring rooms was not phonied up. It was six thirty in the morning, and the producer, Patrice O'Neill, directed me to a soft, horizontal surface in a dark room. After I immediately crashed, Patrice asked the sleep clinician to monitor me.

I think I was set up. Probably fed me de-caf all night.

Then the guy says I'm having sleep arousals and I probably got a problem. Hey, I was wearing jeans and shoes. I don't know about you guys, but I can't sleep in shoes. Unless I'm in a sleep disorder clinic. Or under a picnic table. But that's a different story. Maybe later.

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