Hi guys. We are getting ready to do our second year of the MST3K Turkey Day Revival (www.MST3KTurkeyDay.com). We had over 100,000 people tune in last year – it was a big success – so thank you for your support and we are happy to be bringing it back again this year.
A quick refresher for those who may not know what MST3K Turkey Day is: we will be streaming MST3K classics starting at 9 AM PST / 12 noon ET on Thanksgiving day on our official site, www.MST3KTurkeyDay.com. It is free and a better alternative than watching football.
Go ahead and AMA. Victoria’s helping me get started.
Did you ever lampoon a film on MST3k that you felt bad about mocking later? Like maybe you made a mean-ish joke about an actor or a director who turned out to be a really great guy? I know Joe Don Baker really didn’t appreciate being the butt of many butt related jokes in Mitchell for example.
That’s a really good question.
The answer is YES. The movie was EEGAH, and the person I felt we were particularly tough on was Arch Hall, Jr. I believe we called him a “stiff with teeth and hair.” I met him this summer at a convention, and he couldn’t have been nicer. And he’s a wonderful guy and was very complimentary and said he was really glad we riffed the movie. He said something like “It isn’t lost on me that I get to work these conventions because you guys did my movie.” He was really nice about it. But i was pretty nervous meeting him, because I thought he was really going to hate me, but he was really nice about it.
Question for you on MST3k. When the series was ramping up in mainstream popularity, was there ever any strange merchandise, promotion, or just general request made by network executives (or others) to further market the brand that you or any of the crew kind of laughed off or outright declined?
No… the amazing thing was, we never had any interference from the executives at Comedy Central when we were making the show. There was only one and that was they wanted us to make the silhouettes green on the B&W movies because they felt people wouldn’t be able to see our silhouettes. So we did that for one episode, that was ROBOT MONSTER. But we figured out how to fix it, by putting a blue cast to the film.
Do people make Thunderdome jokes in your presence, or is everyone beyond that now?
Wow, that’s really great.
I’m not going to tell you to get beyond Thunderdome. I know what you’re trying to do, and I’m not going to try to ask you to get Beyond Thunderdome.
What are some old really bad movies that you wanted to do but couldn’t get rights for? How did you get rights to things like Hellcats? Was it relatively easy of did you fight for some of them?
Well, I’ll give you the usual answer, and it’s kind of long, okay?
Going back aways – we’d get the movies when they were cleared already, so the lawyers already felt confident that they could license the movies. Not the other way around, because it would take investment and manpower to go through them and riff them. It’s somewhat obscure, because I think people think we window-shopped for movies, but it’s more like fixing up a home – so you want to make sure you can BUY the home first, before you spend a lot of time and money fixing it up.
Which is your favorite episode of MSTK3?
For Joel episodes, I like “I accuse my parents” and for Mike episodes, my favorite is “Final Sacrifice.”
Did you continue to watch after you left MSTK3?
Yes, yes I did. But it took me a long time to come back and watch the show. I was really frustrated when I left and didn’t really want to watch it.
What was the turning point that made you leave L.A. to go back to Minnesota and how long did it take to realize that was the right decision?
Oh! Yeah, I just got worn out in LA. I felt like I’d done everything I’d set out to do, and there wasn’t anything left for me. And right away, I was happy I went back. Because I still had a lot of cool bohemian friends that were hanging out in Minneapolis doing fun things, so it was fun right away.
What movie did you most want to skewer on MST3K but couldn’t, and why?
Oh, the movie I would like to do most is HAPPY FEET 2! And why? For obvious reasons.
What is the worst meal you’ve ever eaten?
The worst meal I ever had… oh my god… uh… oh boy… I think a pizza i had at a bowling alley once was pretty bad.
Do you have a favorite invention from the old invention exchanges?
Yes, I like the one from when we did surgery on Frank and it was a giant Operation game.
In your farewell episode (Mitchell), you allow the bots to destroy a handcrafted replica of Monticello that took years to complete. Was the toothpick model an analogy for the show?
Oh my god, NO. You’re reading way too much into it!
Is there any movie you wouldn’t do on Mystery Science Theater?
OF COURSE. There are movies that people love and are very familiar with and I kinda feel like, you know – part of the allure of Mystery Science Theater is that you kinda don’t know what movie you’re getting? It’s like going on a tour of a scary house in your neighborhood, you don’t know what’s in there.
I’ve always wondered what happened with Mister Sinus Theater, the comedy group who did a live version of MST3K. They changed the name to Master Pancake and the rumour was that you guys sent a cease and desist. What actually happened?
I didn’t have anything to do with that, those guys are good friends of mine, just last year I riffed a bunch of movies with them in Austin.
What are the most memorable items fans have asked you to sign?
It’s really nice when they hand me their original INFORMATION CLUB membership cards, that’s always kind of amazing, because that means they’ve held onto it for over 20 years.
How did you eat and breathe?
You’re really gonna make me do this? Okay… repeat to yourself: It’s a show, you should just relax…
What advice do you have for someone that wants to get into comedy writing and maybe even stand up?
I would say: just keep a notebook. Write all your ideas down. And take all your jokes, and arrange them from your favorite joke to your least favorite, and start with your second-favorite joke and end with your best joke.
If you could watch anyone from history – living or dead – riff a movie, who would you want to do it? Which movie would it be?
I guess I would like to riff a movie with George Méliès, because he created fantasy film. And I guess – HAPPY FEET 2?
Have you ever considered doing a MST3K type show for TV shows rather than movies?
Yeah, we’ve talked about it over the years. And you know… my impressions is the thing that’s nice about MST3K is that it gets refreshed with new characters and new situations. And the thing about TV is that it’s the same characters. Obviously I would never say never about that, but that’s my impression. It’s just easier to refill with new movies rather than with a TV show that has the same characters.
For your prospective MST3k reboot have you considered designing new Bots?
I think, for the reboot, obviously people would really want to see the original robots back. So I intend to do that. But hopefully we’ll bring some new ones too.
If they cast you in the new Star Wars, who would you like to play?
Do you have a favorite movie or short that was almost too easy to riff on?
Hehe. Oh my goodness. No, but I can say the hardest one to riff on was MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE. I can’t think of the easiest, but the hardest one was MANOS, for me.
If Crow wore one article of clothing. ala a Hannah Barbara character, what would it be?
This is so stupid! I can’t believe you are asking me this! But I will answer your question!
A tie! He’d wear a Fred Flintstone style tie!
There’s not that many things, when you think about it. It’s either going to be a tie or a hat. Did Huckleberry Hound have a tie? I don’t think so. They were mostly collars. It seemed like they always gave them collars you know?
What is your favorite movie to riff? Do you ever re-watch a movie and come up with new/better jokes and want to remake the episode? Would you ever do this?
Oh! That’s a really good question. And I think it’s really true. We’ve already pioneered this idea for Cinematic Titanic when we re-riffed SANTA CLAUSE CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. We did all-new jokes, except for one.
Can you tell us about the most memorable, gratifying or just plain weird experience you had meeting a fan?
Oh yeah! Just a week ago, I was at a wedding in LA, and I met Mitch Hurwitz, who created ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, my favorite show, and he shocked me by saying he was a huge fan of MST3K. So that was kind of an amazing experience.
Now that my friends and I can’t go see Cinematic Titanic anymore, any chance you’ll come do “Riffing Myself” in Milwaukee?
Mostly I do “Riffing Myself” when I make comic-con appearances, so if you have one, bring me in!
What’s your opinion of the “bad on purpose” SyFy channel movies like Sharknado?
My opinion is they are kind of a big misunderstanding.
Movies like that are predicated on confusing a large percentage of the audience into thinking they were meant to be good, but somehow turned out misaligned, thereby driving discussion online and elsewhere.
But it’s a common creative exercise to try to make something bad and I think there are a lot of good benefits to that.
What made you get into MST3K in the first place? Was it well received when you created the show, or was it hard to pitch at first?
Well, fortunately we did 22 episodes before I had to pitch it. So it existed prior to pitching it. So fortunately we just put together a reel and showed that. And it got bought, so…
Which horrible movie do you think was made the most entertaining by MST3000?
Oh, what a great question… BEGINNING OF THE END is a good one?
When you watch movies with people, do they expect you to crack jokes the whole time and give them the MST3K experience?
Sometimes they do, and they’re always really disappointed.
I’m like everybody else: when I go to a movie, I’m hoping to be taken up into the movie just like everybody else. Riffing on movies is my job, and I go to movies to have fun.
How has the world hurt you?
I’ll just answer this by saying: Haha, I was only kidding about that. I’ve actually gone through most of my life relatively unscathed, I’m happy to report.
If you had to pick two robots from any other fictional universe to be your riff buddies. Which two would you choose?
TARS from INTERSTELLAR, and Twiki from Buck Rogers? Twiki would be a good counterpoint.
When putting together special events like Turkey Day, do you/Shout Factory have much trouble getting broadcast rights worked out? Are there episodes you would have liked to have shown, but couldn’t?
Since it’s on YouTube, it wasn’t an issue. We just put them out based on a combination of what fans ask for, and then I screen ’em and look at ’em again and I make the list.
Was there ever anything you weren’t allowed to make for the invention exchange, like a laser-guided bong or something?
While I was on the show, we never got any kind of notes from executives. So i had autonomy to do whatever i wanted.
But I think your ‘laser bong’ idea is potentially commercially viable in a place like Colorado.
Do you ever quote MST3K yourself? If so, what’s your favorite?
If I do, I don’t know I’m doing it? Cuz it’s like, when you MAKE MST3K, you use everything you can think of, and i realize that it’s a lot of my personality in there. So I’m sure I say things that are in the show and i just don’t realize it.