While watching movies in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with my friends, we would occasionally crack a few jokes at the screen if a character did something that we thought was incredibly stupid. This worked really well whenever we watched a horror movie, because people were always doing something dumb in one of those flicks. Especially the ones we watched in the '90s. None of us could have imagined that just a few suburbs over in the city of Hopkins, talented people would take the task of making fun of bad movies and turn it into an art form.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K as it is known to fans) made its premiere on the KTMA station on November 24, 1988. The premise centers on a guy (Joel Hodgson for the first four seasons and Michael J. Nelson for the remaining), who was sent into space by two evil scientists and forced to watch bad movies. Along with his robot pals,Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) and Crow T. Robot (Trace Beaulieu and Bill Corbett). These gents would appear at the bottom of the screen in silhouette form and make jokes as the movie played. Throughout its 10 seasons, the show went through various casts changes, was nominated twice for an Emmy, and had a major studio give them their own feature movie. It was finally cancelled in August 1999, but after a long hiatus, new episodes are being shot and should be ready for release later this year.
The appeal of the show is that no matter how many times I have seen a particular episode, the jokes will still seem fresh whenever I watch it again. Jokes come so fast and so often, it’s difficult to remember every riff that was mentioned. I also really liked all the characters and the mythology the show created. From the robots, including Gypsy and Cambot on the Satellite of Love, to the mad scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu), TV’s Frank (Frank Conniff), Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pherl), and Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) in Deep 13, they were all great. Even if the show featured none of the riffing on movies, I would still have enjoyed it.
When it was announced that a live reunion show was going to be happening and that all the cast members would be attending I was extremely thrilled. The event was to take place at the historic State Theater in downtown Minneapolis, and when I got there, it was packed full of happy people. I only wish I had gotten there earlier so I had more time to meet with everyone, but I was glad to have met other great bloggers and writers.
Even though this event was being billed as an MST3K reunion, the style of the live show was more in tune with a RiffTrax performance. For those of you that don’t know what RiffTrax is, it is an audio program that syncs up with movies to hear comedians riffing on not just B-movies, but well-known ones like Twilight and the Star Wars prequels too. It was conceived by Nelson; features the work of him, Corbett, and Murphy; and was the closest thing to a new season of MST3K, but it didn’t use any of the characters from the show
Seeing all the former cast members and new host Jonah Ray on stage riffing on various educational and industrial shorts was extremely funny and you can see the original crew have not lost their chemistry with each other. While it was nice to see Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy riff on movies, because it felt a little bit like watching episodes of MST3K when it was on the Sci-Fi Channel, I really wanted to hear Hodgson, Beaulieu, and Murphy reunite the old crew of Joel Robinson and the bots and hear them riff on something.
I look forward to seeing more RiffTrax performances live because they are a lot of fun. I don’t remember any of the jokes and I have no problems with that. I want each performance or show to feel fresh in my head and if I remember too much of the jokes when I see it again, I won’t find it as funny. The RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion was a complete blast, and I will be there for the next one.
If you missed the live performance on June 28, they will be having an encore on July 12.