Shortly before our second Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathonin November, show creator Joel Hodgson participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Here are 15 things we learned from the fan Q&A.
1. There is one movie he regrets mocking so mercilessly.
“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. 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.”
2. Comedy Central executives were hands-off in their treatment of MST3K.
“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 [thing]; they wanted us to make the silhouettes green on the B&W movies because they felt people wouldn’t be able to see us. So we did that for one episode, that wasRobot Monster. But we figured out how to fix it: by putting a blue cast to the film.”
3. Obtaining movie rights was never a big concern.
“We’d get the movies when they were cleared already, so the lawyers already felt confident that they could license them. Not the other way around, because it would take investment and manpower to go through and riff them. People think we window-shopped for movies, but it’s more like fixing up a home — you want to make sure you can buy the home first before you spend a lot of time and money fixing it up.”
4. If any of the bots were to break Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, it would be Crow.
“I completely expect I’ll be killed by Crow. Tom couldn’t do much, he could just pinch you.”
5. On why he left Los Angeles to return to Minnesota:
“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.”
6. On his favorite MST3K episodes:
“For Joel episodes I like I Accuse My Parents, and for Mike episodes my favorite is The Final Sacrifice.”
7. He did watch the show after he left, but it took him some time to come back to it.
“I was really frustrated when I left and didn’t really want to watch it.”
8. There is a modern movie he’d really like to riff on.
“The movie I would like to do most is Happy Feet 2! And why? For obvious reasons.”
9. On his favorite invention from the Invention Exchange:
“I like the one when we did surgery on Frank and it was a giant Operation game.”
10. He would never lampoon many movies simply due to their familiarity.
“There are movies that people love and are very familiar with, and I feel like 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.”
11. On his most memorable fan moments:
“It’s really nice when they hand me their original Information Club membership card. That’s always kind of amazing, because that means they’ve held onto it for over 20 years.”
“Just a week ago I met Mitch Hurwitz, who created Arrested Development, my favorite show. He shocked me by saying he was a huge fan of MST3K. So that was kind of an amazing experience.”
12. He has a simple piece of advice for aspiring comedy writers.
“Just keep a notebook. Write all your ideas down. Take all your jokes and arrange them from your favorite joke to your least favorite, then start with your second-favorite joke and end with your best joke.”
13. They considered doing MST3K episodes featuring TV shows, but it didn’t seem like it would work.
“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.”
14. The hardest movie for him to riff was “Manos” The Hands of Fate.
“I can’t think of the easiest, but the hardest one was Manos, for me.”
15. On whether or not people expect him to riff on every movie he watches:
“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 it. Riffing on movies is my job, and I go to movies to have fun.”
3 Bonus Facts!
Waffles vs. Pancakes: “Oh, that’s easy. PANWAFFLES!”
On guacamole: “The only thing I like more than eating guacamole is talkingabout eating guacamole, and you’ve helped me do that!”
Which two robots from any other fictional universe he’d like to have as his riffing sidekicks: TARS from Interstellar and Twiki from Buck Rogers. Twiki would be a good counterpoint.