For the second year in a row, despite it taking a physical toll on him last time, Tom Scharpling stayed up for 24 hours this week broadcasting another all-star mega episode of The Best Show. Traditionally a weekly three-hour show, Scharpling and his crew stayed up all night in the studio from 6 p.m. Pacific on September 12 to 6 p.m. Pacific on September 13, welcoming surprise musical guests and celebrity interviews along the way.
Across the full 24 hours, Scharpling was joined by Vampire Weekend, Bill Hader, Nathan Fielder, Marc Maron, Ben Gibbard, King Tuff, Sarah Squirm, Sarah Silverman, Shannon Shaw, Fat Tony, Bob Odenkirk, Tim Heidecker, Gary Gulman, Tony Shalhoub, Generacion Suicida, Samantha Bee, Jon Daly, and many more. There were multiple calls from Jon Wurster’s different Best Show characters as well, plus segments from the show’s producers. Scharpling also got a tattoo on the air. Listen to the full 24-hour broadcast below; full episode video is available to Patreon subscribers.
The marathon kicked off with an over-the-phone performance from friend of the show Kurt Vile before Scharpling welcomed comedians Marc Maron and Gary Gulman into the studio. Just as the 24-hour run began, Maron and Gulman both shared their concerns with Pitchfork about Scharpling’s decision. “I think it’s dangerous,” Gulman said. “Yeah, we’re all very concerned,” Maron added.
“Sleep deprivation, it’s one of those things, it shortens your life and also makes you make horrible decisions,” Gulman said. Maron interjected: “But here’s the thing, when he gets loopy, it gets interesting. Come around 4:30, that’s the time to listen.”
“Look, he’s one of the great broadcasters of our time,” Maron said. “Not unlike a Jerry Lewis telethon, I think Tom’s going to be entertaining all the way through. And I don’t think this benefits anybody. A telethon for no reason.”
Four hours into the broadcast, Scharpling was joined in the studio by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and Chris Tomson. The trio talked about growing up in New Jersey, their first concerts, and pressed for a scoop, Koenig and Tomson said the new 10-song Vampire Weekend album is “close to done” and will arrive before the next presidential election.
Koenig, who hosts Time Crisis on Apple Music 1 every other week, said he’d never attempt anything like Scharpling’s marathon. “Oh, I can’t even imagine,” he told Pitchfork. “I don’t have those kinds of radio chops. He’s a legend of the game. Maybe one day if I really trained, I could pull off like 12 hours.” Tomson called it “impressive,” the physical task of being awake and “on” while broadcasting for that long. “I wish him peace.”
The show featured musical performances from King Tuff, Shannon Shaw, Fat Tony, Maylee Todd, and Generacion Suicida. Late into Tuesday night, Scharpling performed a “Sound Collage Symphony”—a chaotic marathon of soundboard drops—with Vic Berger IV and DJ Douggpound. It was followed by a call where What We Do in the Shadows star Matt Berry pretended to be Graham Nash. “That was about a half year in the making,” Scharpling told Pitchfork about his chat with Berry. “We’d been joking about that for a long time.”
On Wednesday morning, Scharpling spoke with Ben Gibbard following conversations with Julie Klausner, Tim Heidecker, and Samantha Bee. Discussing the Postal Service album, Scharpling’s exhaustion began to shine through when he couldn’t remember the word “iPod”—“the words are not coming now.”
In the final hours of the marathon, Bill Hader did his impression of an early ’90s interview with Eddie Van Halen (and revealed that he, Fred Armisen, and John Mulaney have a text thread where they speak in character as the Van Halen brothers). Bob Odenkirk promised that he and David Cross are talking about a new collaboration. Sarah Squirm and Sarah Silverman were in the studio together for a first-time meeting, hugging and vowing to become friends. The show closed with a first-ever Best Show chat between Scharpling and his former co-worker on Monk, Tony Shalhoub.
“I think this one blew the other one out of the water, I think,” Scharpling said the Sunday after the show (September 17). “I think we covered a lot more ground. It wasn’t just me talking to guests, which was more or less what the first one was. We put together a thing that had more unexpected stuff in it than anyone could do. I got to show the range of what I can do over the course of 24 hours.”
Scharpling says he’s “highly unlikely” to helm another 24-hour marathon. “I don’t know about that. I know I said that last time. This time, I felt the strain more than I did even a year ago. It takes a lot out of you to do that. It’s a pretty intense experience. Who knows—but I pretty much do know that I’ll never do it again. I don’t want to die on the radio.”
Since its relaunch with last year’s 24-hour marathon, The Best Show has featured a full-album performance from Osees, a wide-ranging interview with Kesha, behind-the-scenes chats with the creators of Jury Duty and Paul T. Goldman, an update to Scharpling’s Ant-Man rejection saga with director Peyton Reed, and a reunion of MTV VJs.