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Whatever Happened to Widgett Walls?

Widgett Walls AWOL

So, yes, it’s true: at Hour 18 of Red Nose Net‘s marathon 24-hour broadcast, I cratered. We started at noon EST and I made it to 6am the next morning before my body just literally rose up in rebellion and overthrew me.

For those who are interested into just what the hell happened, here are the Facts in the Case of M. Walls: we were talking to Mark Evanier and I had started to feel rather unwell. Not an allergic reaction to Mark, you understand, but just a feeling of “Ugh, I need to take a break and splash some cold water on my face” and also “And maybe close my head in a door a few times.” You know the feeling.

Anyway, I took a pee break aftewards (which, as the evening progressed, had become a Musical Event thanks to Joe Covenant), went and assumed my place on the throne (where I am master of all I survey) and realized I was seriously unwell.

I was having trouble with my balance, for a start. This is not uncommon for me even when I am at 100%, since I teeter all over the place and am disoriented normally. Friends of mine can back me up on this. I also had a feeling that I might want to be sick, accompanied by the feeling that I could not be sick. Any of us who have been through college know this feeling and it, too, is not uncommon. I’m not talking about the illness brought on by drinking, mind you, instead the deep soul sickness brought on by paying to get a degree that you know deep in your heart you will never, ever use. So those weren’t anything to write home about.

It was the fact that I felt like I was freezing to death–but it wasn’t cold–that concerned me. There’s something inexplicably unnerving about shivering like mad when you know you shouldn’t be having temperature issues. And talking to Ken over the phone to tell him what was going on was bad, because shivering makes you sound even worse than you actually are. Unless you’re shivering because you’re, you know, lost and freezing to death in a hedge maze on the side of a mountain–then it’s probably accurate. So, anyway, after trying to drink some water and sitting down (which at least kept me from falling over–falling over from a sitting position is hard to do) I went and awoke my wife, Cosette, who had gone to bed a few hours earlier. She confirmed that I was in as bad a state as I feared. So Ken talked to her (probably glad to talk to someone sane after having been on the line with me for eighteen hours, sick or not) and told me to get lost and collapse, which I did, reluctantly. Ken soldiered on and made it across the finish line–and because he did I think I did too, just as I know you do as well, due to the rapport we all share via Brian Blessed.

Anyway, a couple of things to deal with here that I’ve seen kicked around. First, it was not a caffeine overdose that did me in. Nor was it my consumption of energy drinks. At the risk of giving away the magician’s trick, let me just assure you of a couple of things. I flashed a lot more caffeine than I actually ingested. And what I did ingest was my typical daily consumption. I have the tolerance of a Budweiser Clydesdale and always have. Getting work done at the dentist is always frustrating for the doctor and nurses because they can’t quite get me doped up enough to where I’m not feeling the work. When I went to the emergency room for my kidney stone incident, it took a heroic dosage of morphine to put me out. I’ve just always been like that. And as for the energy drinks, I had a total of one Red Bull and one of those Bom Dia drinks that I’ve already reviewed and knew it was ineffective. I use caffeine and coffee and am probably nicely addicted to both, but I do not actually abuse them. Or at least not as much as people think I do.

And it wasn’t being awake for eighteen hours. Although my brain was too far gone to remember it when Ken asked me when the last time I had done a stretch of eighteen hours before, in my fits of lucidness afterwards I recalled that, no, in actuality I had done a couple of 28-30 hour work shifts in the past year. Maybe even three. So this is not alien to me and something I can still do, despite being old enough to be Mallory‘s dad.

One thing I did consider was my sugar intake…since I have in all actuality cut back on my sugar intake just to ensure I stay moderately healthy. But honestly, I didn’t have that much sugar either. More than usual? Yes. More than most Americans on a given day? Not really.

So what the hell was it?

Honestly, I think it was the combination of sitting and being “on” for eighteen hours. If I had it to do over, I would have figured out some way to move around more. Even moving the Widge Fridge and Tower of Appliances and just jog around my goddamn table a few times an hour would have been something. Because that I am not used to. Even normally sitting here I at least get up, move about, file crap, and so forth. And when I’m on the phone, I pace constantly. I don’t generally spend that much time–at a clip–sitting and being on camera, to some extent, performing. So I think the combination just did me in. And when we finally got a lowkey moment, my body decided to smack me around like I was Jimmy towards the end of Road House.

All credit goes to Ken–he did a masterful job of going through to the end and hitting the button–and my major regret, apart from falling over, is that I didn’t get to interact with our guests the next morning, including David Mitchell and Neil Innes. But maybe next time, if we’re just that bloody mad. Still, hearing Doc and Jackson sing cover tunes, having an intervention/hazing planned for me, being declared redeemable then written off then redeemable in the same conversation by Prof. Hodgman, getting to watch Ken deal with Clams Casino, having Graham Linehan stalk someone for money, and getting into a shouting match with Ken and Paul Sabourin while Storm was sleeping it off, Jonathan Coulton telling me exactly what he thought of my cover requests, and the badass art provided by Apelad and Len Peralta…these things and many more are all moments that will haunt me until I am dead for real.

And, hey, even Brian Blessed has never actually successfully made it to the top of Everest. So if he’s fallible, then we’re all allowed, is what I figure.

Also, bear in mind: it’s not over. It’s never completely over, is it? The telethon has ended but the cause continues. You can still donate here.

There’ll be a better thank you coming from the combined forces of Nuts on the Road and Red Nose Net shortly, but thanks from me personally to everyone who got involved and donated–and also to everybody who was concerned for my health and well being.


  • The whole sitting for too long thing and being “on” makes total sense. All of our theories were just to try and understand ’cause we were worried…or maybe it was just me since you’re old enough to be my dad :-)

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and I think 18 hours is an awesome feat!

    Don’t forget you rule!

  • Just glad you’re okay Widge.
    Was a pleasure being *in the room* with you guys that night!
    (and if you wanna put the song up somewhere on your site… by all means… I consider it C.C.!)

  • I really enjoyed the show, i had to goto bed because of class right after the “Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend sing the hits/Ken going all hostel on Fraggle rock” incident and was worried when i saw you were gone(when i got up for school the next morning). You and Ken were both troopers that night, and produced an entertaining show that got me to donate :-D. Mr Widge, you have gained a fan, and i am glad to see that you recovered, and are, dare i say, fit as a fiddle?

  • Mallory: Well, I mostly wanted to put the caffeine and energy drink theories to rest because the last thing I need is to become a poster boy (MAN! POSTER MAN!) for those people who want to regulate those things.

    DPhish: I am fit as a fiddle as long as by fiddle you mean Fiddle Faddle.

    Joe: I’ll just say you’re a sick individual. And I respect that.

  • Next year Widge will be telethoning with one of those Requiem From A Dream reversed helmet cams, so he can go anywhere and still be perfectly in frame!

  • Glad you’re ok, but you don’t realise how lucky you are. During hour 23 Hodgman persuaded Ken to take off his shirt, at which point, ‘the living envied the dead’.

  • I was able to enjoy the first hours, (a pee break song I’ll never forget)a little late night (silly) and then I awoke at 5 am CST- No Widge! Thanks for the update as I was unable to check in till afterwards. Great Job and effort Ken and Widge. I was able to give a little for your great efforts.

  • Your not the only one who ended up crashing before it was over. I got there a few minutes before while the setup was going on. Even tho around 2pm or so I had to step out. From the time I returned from 4pm till 11:29am I was there. I’m glad to here you are OK.

  • Widge, I suggest that you see your doctor for a checkup.
    Those were the symptoms that I had with my heart attack(blood clot) at age 43.

  • Consider me educated now…I hadn’t heard that anyone was trying to import “red nose day” here to the states. I had never heard of you two…and I don’t usually donate. (I’m poor) After watching you guys…I’d say the import of red nose day is here to stay….I’m now a fan of you guys. And I donated!!! (still poor though) Keep up the good work, you guys were great!