Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Rifftrax and MST3K Unite For A Classic Night of Riffing
When Mystery Science Theater 3000 co-creator Joel Hodgson was interviewed by Vulture six years ago, he was asked if there was a possibility he might do something with his former riffing colleagues at Rifftrax. He said that "I think anything’s possible, but I thought it might get confusing to try to merge them together or do crossover projects. I would never rule it out because it’s all kind of the same universe," but he admitted Rifftrax was a different thing.
This past Tuesday at the State Theater in Minneapolis, though, Joel did get together with Rifftrax, along with the former Mads and the new MST3K host to create a very successful night of movie riffing.
It was a good mix of very funny shorts, and the riffing by the casts went smoothly just like it did in the Sketchfest in San Francisco. Joel was joined by Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl, Bridget Nelson and Kevin Murphy from Rifftrax, Trace Beaulieu and TV's Frank Conniff (who now have their own movie riffing routine), and new MST3K host Jonah Ray.
The Rifftrax crew took one of its early shorts, Shake Hands With Danger, and The Talking Car, about a kid who is being judged on traffic safety by three cars..in a dream. While the crew at Incognito Cinema Warriors XP did a much better job with that short in the DVD, "Bloody Pit of Horror", the Rifftraxers were very funny, too. When the kid sees he's in a dream, Kevin says "Welcome to Antartica's first car show". There's also jokes on '70s cop shows, The Godfather and a certain complaint about the new Ghostbusters movie.
Then Mary Jo and Bridget did their take on "Word To The Wives", a short on how a housewife cons her husband into buying a newer home. The print for the show was actually pretty faded compared to the Rifftrax version, but most of the jokes were still there. I had reviewed this before in my blog on the emergence of the two gals as Rifftrax's Dymanic Duo.
Trace and Frank took on "More Dates For Kay", and they just KILLED here. They commented on how Kay, who looks really plain, got a lot of dates through good grooming and being really helpful. They were mostly puzzled how she got so popular.
Then, the past and the future got their chance, Jonah and Joel riffed on a short that praised barbers and beauticians. They especially noticed how one of the barbers looked like Frankenstein while a pedicurist might have been Annette Funicello. Jonah was very good in his riffs and worked well with Joel. Jonah will do just fine when he's shot into space. Just ask Frank,
Soon, everyone united to riff on a short called "Stamp Day For Superman." It was part Superman episode, part propaganda to get people to buy US Saving Stamps and Savings Bonds. It's really quaint seeing Lois Lane tied to a chair after getting tricked by a robber, but at least she came up with a way to get Superman to help her, The crew got in very funny riffs, especially on Rondo Hatton and someone who hates Spider-Man.
However, that wasn't the end. They did an encore with "At Your Fingertips: Grasses". The crew kept the original riffs but they still paid off even though they were being read by other people. The original version is part of the live Reefer Madness event.
It was a perfect way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Rifftrax, and launch the new era of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I was hoping Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt would crash the place and let everyone know they were the new sheriffs in town. They might get their chance when Joel is expected to reveal more info on the new MST at Comic-Con in three weeks.
There were the usual jokes in the pre-show slides, including one that claims Minions are shaved Pikachus (but the Minion language isn't quite Japanese). It did include several MST3K songs including two version of the opening theme, A Patrick Swayze Christmas and the Let Me Be Frank About Frank (which was also dedicated to Frank Zappa). That was a nice touch.
The MST3K reunion show will likely be available to the general public sometime this fall. Rifftrax also revealed its next show will be Mothra on August 18th. It's a widescreen print of the story about how some tiny fairies from a mysterious island get kidnapped, and a really big moth gets angry and shoves some cars around in Tokyo.
One more thing: WUCW, which used to be KTMA (the original home for MST3K), was there for a press conference of the cast the day before the show. Here it is:
The reunion show will be repeated on July 12th. More info is available at rifftrax.com/live.