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Wisconsin - stupid human tricks
« Thread started on: Sep 29th, 2004, 8:11pm »
Story originally printed in the Winona Daily News or online at
WSU student gets `minute of fame'
By Shannon Fiecke / Winona Daily News
What began as a bunch of kids clowning around landed Winona State University student Mike Mielke a free trip to New York City and an appearance on the "Late Show" with David Letterman Thursday night.
During an Onalaska High School basketball game, Mielke tried putting his body through a friend's string-less tennis racket. An announcer caught him doing it, and at half-time students pulled the Onalaska, Wis.,
native to the floor, where he performed for the gymnasium audience.
So when Mielke's high school show choir director, Paul Gulsvig, asked for students to compete in a stupid human tricks competition at a school where they would be performing, the 18-year-old volunteered. He
decided to combine his body conforming abilities with his pogo stick skills and won second place for pulling the racket over his body while jumping on the pogo stick.
Pretty soon Mielke was performing his stunt at graduation parties, and in July at the Onalaska fireworks show, where his friend's father, Jerry
Shepard videotaped him. Son Tyler Shepard, also a Winona State student, edited the tape, adding music, and the Shepards mailed the recording off to a number of television programs.
In early September, Mielke got a call from the "Late Show," which flew him and his mother out Wednesday night, paying for their airfare and hotel expenses, to try out for the show's "Stupid Human Tricks" segment.
He and five other contestants competed for three spots on the show, but didn't find out until a half-hour before it began whether they'd be on.
"It was nerve-wracking," he said.
He didn't meet Letterman before the show, but once he was on stage, Mielke said he was at ease and got Letterman to laugh.
When Letterman asked him if he had ever performed the trick before, Mielke first said no. The freshman said if Letterman was going to ask dumb questions, he'd try to humor him with dumb answers.
But when the host asked where Onalaska was, Mielke tried to explain it was near La Crosse, next to Minnesota and Iowa. Letterman thought La Crosse was in northwest Wisconsin, Mielke didn't want to waste time to correct him.
Mielke had planned to use his appearance to promote Winona State by wearing his university T-shirt but was told to wear a less-distracting, plain-colored shirt. But he still got to say where he attended school.
While some students are calling the elementary education major a celebrity, he doesn't think he is.
"It's just a minute of fame," he said.
Still, he's going to try to use his "Late Show" xperience to cash in on some money for college — he hopes to get hired for a commercial and also will be paid an unknown amount from the show. One repeat "Late Show" contestant told Stark he received $800 for his first unsuccessful tryout.
"I'm expecting a decent amount," Mielke said.
To view Mielke's performance visit www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow.
Reporter Shannon Fiecke can be reached at 453-3519 or firstname.lastname@example.org