Over 15 years in the making, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reunion was a great success. The State Theatre in Minneapolis was sold out with no shortage of ridiculously-hyped MST3K fans dressed like Tom Servo, Dr. Forrester and you know, just a bunch of faces in red jumpsuits. There were even Crow T. Robots floating around the audience. Around the country, fans filled up theaters to watch the reunion via live satellite uplink, which might explain the kind of technology the Gizmonic Institute has been working on for the past 27 years.
The night also marked the 20th live show by Rifftrax, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Rifftrax guys, former MST3K host Mike Nelson, the voice of Tom Servo, Kevin Murphy, and Sci-Fi Channel-era Crow, Bill Corbett, hosted the festivities while they brought out various combinations of MST3K regulars to riff over hilariously bad shorts and educational films.
Judging by Twitter, it seems like everyone had their own favorite segment, but I’d personally say each combination of riffers were absolutely hilarious in their own right. Original Crow Trace Beaulieu and TV’s Frank, Frank Conniff, were disturbing and dirty, Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl were so funny it’s a shame they didn’t have more time on stage, and of course the Rifftrax dudes were on fire while Shaking Hands With Danger.
But all eyes were on Jonah Ray’s debut segment with original host/experiment and MST3K creator Joel Hodgson. Thankfully, it was fantastic. There was a sense of fatherly guidance from Joel to Jonah, almost as if Joel was trying to protect him from the tidal wave of laughs the duo produced. It was sweet if not a little odd since Ray is a comedy veteran in his own right. But considering his first time riffing was live, on stage and it was being simulcast throughout the country during a highly-anticipated reunion, he did extremely well. The pressure did not get to Ray, even with a couple of fumbles.
Throughout the two-hour show, the veteran cast seemed like a bunch of battle-hardened warriors heading off into the field soaked with blood and jokes. It almost seemed like they just wanted to get the show done as quickly as possible. But Ray, the new host/experiment of the upcoming MST3K reboot, rarely stopped smiling. It’s a relief to know the Satellite of Love is in good hands.
That’s the big takeaway from the show: Hodgson made the right call choosing Ray as the new host. But, much like the Joel vs. Mike debates of yesteryear, Ray won’t be bending to the expectations of fans. His jokes focused on tropes of 2016, web culture, and were darker in nature than most of the stuff from the vets. The other big takeaway: That’s fine. We’ve had Joel and Mike, and now we have Jonah.
Still, there was one final question we were left with which we may never know the answer to: Is corn grass?
*Don’t forget: There’s a replay of the reunion on July 12th!