Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back, and RiffTrax is there to welcome it, with a RiffTrax Live/MST3K Reunion Show. The upcoming reunion show, to be screened in theaters across the United States, will be held June 28th, and in preparation, several of its stars answered questions from the press.
On a recent phone call, RiffTrax and MST3K stars Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Trace Beaulieu, and Jonah Ray spoke to several websites and publications, including us here at G33k-HQ.
Regarding the legacy of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Kevin Murphy feels that riffing on bad shows has its roots back in Shakespearean times, during the performance of “Pyramus and Thisbe” during “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” wherein, as he described it: “They’re mocking it, and they’re making comments right back to the stage. So what we do is certainly not anything new, but I think we’re some of the few people that actually make a living off of it and that’s kind of nice.”
Newcomer Jonah Ray, however, grew up watching MST3K, and would mock bad movies with his friends as well, stating that the show helped shape his sense of humor. His own role in the new Mystery Science Theater will feature a different relationship with the ‘bots than Mike or Joel had previously. As he put it: “They’re going to despise me. They don’t want me around. It’s essentially like I’m kind of gregarious, and I’d like to be friends with them because I’m the new guy and they just aren’t having it… they like the old guys better and essentially will mirror what the general public might feel.”
Our G33k-HQ reporter, Robbie Pleasant, asked: “What is it that each of you individually look for in the shorts and the movies that you riff; what are your criteria? Or what do you really like to find in something that makes you go, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to riff this?’”
On that, they all seemed to be on some level of agreement. Trace explained: “I’m partial to some sort of weird disembodied creature talking to a kid, like a little sprite made of springs or the embodiment of paper products. And they always have these kind of apocalyptic messages for the kids that ‘if you don’t take care of us, be it springs or paper or something like that, the world is pretty much going to collapse around your ears, kids.’ That’s my particular taste.”
Kevin agrees, adding, “I’m fond of the ones where magical creatures browbeat everyday people for things we’re doing wrong. There are so many of them like that. It’s wonderful. And the fact that if we take something for granted, it’s going to be taken away from us and we’re going to destory the world; it’s a strong theme in a lot of these.”
Bill was also in agreement. “I love that a lot of these were made by corporations, like General Electric, and I love how the actors would have to be so influenced about electrical appliances. It’s a stove; it’s just a stove. It’s the best stove.”
Of course, not every short they find is rife for riffing, no matter how bad they are. There are some shorts where they’re “too sad or too weird,” and a few that show “realistic depictions, or actual shots of car accidents… and that’s kind of hard to make fun of.” In another case, there was a short about child abduction and murder, that was done so badly that it was both funny and ripe for riffing, featuring “a 75-year-old woman [who’s] supposed to be a six-year-old kid… she seems mildly irritated by the whole thing, but not really that upset.” However, in the end, “it just got so heart-wrenchingly ugly that we couldn’t put it out there.”
Sometimes, though, they riff on movies that aren’t bad, or are actually incredibly good. For instance, they recently released an audio riff track for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and have even riffed on films like “Casablanca” and “Lord of the Rings.”
As Kevin puts it, “For us, it’s more akin to a roast than it is an actual dropping of the film, because you can’t insult a film like ‘Casblanca.’ It’s a pretty terrific film, so we end up sort of roasting it, like an old friend.”
Previously, a reunion show was made difficult simply by the timing not being right. But with the return of MST3K on the horizon, it’s time for the team to reunite. There, they’ll riff on a collection of shorts, starting with everyone doing their own thing, and ending in a grand finale where everybody riffs on a single short.
The latest RiffTrax Live, “Time Chasers,” has just finished streaming to theaters, but an encore presentation will be streamed this coming Wednesday. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 reunion show will hit screens next month, with the new MST3K, starring Jonah Ray, Hampton Yount, Baron Vaughn, Felicia Day, and Patton Oswalt, in the not too distant future.