I gotta tell you.
This was not something I expected to see in my lifetime.
Or my proverbial kids’ lives.
At least, not without a variety of hell firey asteroids falling out of a tumultuous green sky.
But, here we are. Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson were in the same room, jokes were made, laughs (in fact, many laughs) were had, and somehow… it seemed like nothing had happened and Mystery Science Theater 3000 was as alive and well as ever. Although, MST3K ended on August 8, 1998, almost twenty years ago (internal gag sound) and Rifftrax has just celebrated their tenth anniversary.
First, I’d like to examine the fact that all of our lives are escaping us at an alarming rate.
Second, I’d next like to discuss the closure this event brought myself and, I’m sure, countless other MST3K fans.
With the dawning of a new Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the horizon, I know many a fan were distraught with the idea of a new era of MST3K when it seemed the previous one had never ended in our mind’s eye.
This show wasn’t a period on the end of a sentence, but rather an appropriate exclamation point.
The show, hosted at the State Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opened on Kevin Murphy apologizing, “Sorry, St. Paul couldn’t be here tonight!” while both Bill Corbett and Mike Nelson chuckled.
The keen audience laughed uproariously. “It’s gonna be like a family reunion, right down to the heartburn,” jabbed Kevin. It was clear this was going to be a gift for the learned MSTie.
This particular show wasn’t like any Rifftrax, MST3K, or Cinematic Titanic event I had ever seen before. Instead of riffing a feature movie, they riffed a bunch of individual educational and factory shorts. The first was a nightmare laden piece, riffed by the Rifftrax boys, called…
The Talking Car
A sweet little boy runs out into the road and very nearly gets run over by a car. His dad runs over and says, very calmly, “You wouldn’t be able to go fishing tomorrow… or ever.” The riffs write themselves really in this one. Thanks to this loving interaction, the little boy has a dream where a load of talking cars spill their horrifying pedestrian knowledge upon the unknowing kid.
“The Talking Car, based on a true story.” -Mike
“Damn my mutant car attracting powers!” – Kevin
“Yes, kid, you’re in abomination vs. god territory now.” -Bill
“After his visitation, Jimmy’s hair turned white and he never spoke again.” – Kevin
“Who needs a normal or popular son?” – Mike
A Word to the Wives
Gender stereotypes, dream houses, and trickery abound, A Word to the Wives is (an accidentally educational?) short about a woman who simply can’t stand her out of date kitchen anymore. So, like anyone who wants something, they make someone else deal with it until they fix it instead.
She leaves her husband alone for a few days in the godless kitchen and upon seeing their neighbors updated place…
They just move out into a fancier newer home.
Because it’s a lot easier to abandon a problem then just, you know, solve it? Anywho…
For this segment, the Rifftrax fellas left the stage and, to the audience’s surprise, Bridget Jones Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl came out to riff this puppy on their own.
Additionally, they killed it.
“Oh, I think this is a metaphor for their marital relations.” – Mary Jo
“I thought we sprayed for trumpets…” – Bridget Jones
“This kitchen won a homemaker’s award!”
“Yeah, the Sylvia Plath award.” – Mary Jo
More Dates for Kay
As an avid admirer of horror… this *not* horror short, scared the ever loving shit out of me. This super dowdy, succubus, unblinking Peewee Herman lookin’ girl is used as an example of how throwing your vagina at every living male will, in some capacity, yield a date. Maybe.
Now, I lost my flippin’ lid when I saw who was riffing this short. And it was none other than Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff. AKA the Mads. THE MADS, YOU GUYS. On a personal note, this was hands down my favorite segment. I laughed so hard I got dirty looks from other moviegoers around me. A sign of a truly great set of riffs.
“I don’t want to oversell it… but it will fill you with sadness.” -Frank
“Was she the actress on Unhappy Days?” -Trace
“I thought you had to invite a vampire in.” – Trace
“Jesus! Caligula wasn’t this creepy.” -Trace
Shake Hands with Danger
This little safety film, riffed by Kevin, Mike, and Bill, for Caterpillar Inc. was preceded by a warning to parents of small kids that there are some heinous, gory workplace accidents throughout.
And by heinous, I mean laughably gross and awful.
Complete with it’s own theme song, sung by the narrator, Shake Hands with Danger chronicles how caution is not only necessary, but failure to use it on a minute to minute basis can be deadly.
A crowd favorite for a good reason, this short is sure to please MSTies both old and new.
“I have complete confidence in you, guy who can’t grow a mustache.” – Mike
“No one is safe, EVERYONE… RUN!” – Mike
Even without anyone making jokes over it… it’s hard not to laugh at this absurd, death laden flick.
Americans at Work: Barbers and Beauticians
The title for this one explains itself. But, the crew riffing it… had nothing ordinary about it. Joel Hodgson (omgiknowright) joined newcomer, Jonah Ray, to quip the shiz out of this particular AFL-CIO’s Americans at Work episode.
Very important to note, one of the Rifftrax guys, in passing, said that Joel may be participating in more Rifftrax shows. Which may also explain why Cinematic Titanic disbanded in the first place. I felt this was probably one of the most important pieces of information I took away from the reunion.
Moreover, Joel and Jonah have an electric charisma between the two of them making this a great introduction for Jonah to hesitant MST3K fans.
“I want you to give me the Chris Tucker from Fifth Element.” -Jonah
“Can I have a smoke, dad?”
“You mean, may I have a smoke, dad.” -Joel
“If you have no hair, hair will be provided for you.” -Jonah
Stamp Day for Superman
In a two part “Riffapalooza”, all parties involved throughout the night came out to riff Stamp Day for Superman, an episode made to promote treasury bills. And just how FUN they are. In an unusual turn of events, seemingly unrelated, a burglary alarm company is robbed, somehow Lois Lane gets abducted, and then Superman straight up makes selling stamps real cool. Or something.
Color me stupid, but my god, that episode was quite the stretch. But, seeing Bridget, Mary Jo, Kevin, Mike, Joel, Bill, Trace, Frank, and Jonah tear this idiotic episode apart was more than a delight to watch. Before beginning, Jonah thanked the cast and crew of Mystery Science Theater for making him who he was. It was really touching that he felt the need to stop the show for a hot second and let fans and cast alike know how grateful he was.
Bill in appropriate fashion quipped, “Thanks, noob.”
“This is the closest anyone came to coming out in the 50s.” -Frank
“Superman, could you use your powers to help me hang myself?” -Jonah
“Stamp day rules, BITE ME CHRISTMAS.” -Joel
“Yeah, yeah, you almost died. Stop nagging me.” -Mike
“Hey, ask him why he didn’t stop Hitler.” -Joel
At Your Fingertips
To wrap up a super meaningful, hilarious evening, the gang ended with At Your Fingertips, a short about the many wonders and uses of… you guessed it, grass. And, no, not the fun kind. The film explains, in great detail (too much detail, if we’re being honest), how to make braids, headdresses, fancy boxes and all sorts of other worthless items with crap you can find in your overgrown garbage yard.
“This is one lawnmower away from being a snuff film.” -Frank
“This film is for the patients the nurses won’t give scissors to.” -Trace
“Nothing says “I forgot Father’s Day” like a corn rubbing.” -Mary Jo
“Ooh! Jim Henson’s Blair Witch Project Babies!” -Joel
Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better celebration of Rifftrax by acknowledging their roots with an MST3K reunion while metaphorically handing the torch over to Jonah Ray. Between Rifftrax and the new world order of MST3K, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for MSTies because I think we’re all in for a massive treat.