Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From MST3K to RiffTrax to Paul F. Tompkins and The Thrilling Adventure Hour -- a big thanks to all

It's a lovely thing to discover a fun concept fully realized, even if you have to catch up with years and years of the stuff!

By this I mean (firstly) Chris and I became huge fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 waaaay after they had wrapped up the show, thanks to our friend Andy, who brought over a DVD to one of our "Movie Saturdays" just a few years ago (I think I've brought that up in a post here previously.) Each time we gathered he'd bring in a different one -- and we enjoyed them so much and were so fascinated by the wrap around storylines with the bots and Joel and Mike that we started to get the DVDs, too. And there was plenty to catch up on. Something like 20 years worth ... with some of them being plum out of print (and we hope they get reissued some day!) Just gotta say watching a show about being stuck in space with only robots for friends and being forced by an evil scientist to watch terrible movies in order to survive, and having to make fun of said terrible movies to just keep one's sanity (and life!) is pretty bizarre and hilarious stuff ... (and then the Evil scientist's Mom took over ... it's a whole thing!)

One of my favorite things about MST3K is how Tom Servo -- the little red gumball-machine looking robot -- makes art-related riffs at the screen. The first art riff that literally made me laugh so hard I lost my breath was on Secret Agent Super Dragon, when one of the villains is waxing poetic in front of a wall of stuffy paintings and he stops in front of one Moe-haired medieval musician, and Servo says -- as if he were giving the painting a title -- "Emo Avec Lute" (that STILL makes me laugh hysterically whenever I remember it!) I also really enjoyed Servo's "Frederick Remington's 'Guernica'" from Werewolf and "Edward Hopper's 'Quick-e-Mart'" from Soul Taker. LOVE the art riffs!

Since that show is over and the actors involved in MST3K have since split off into two new riffing groups -- RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic, we jumped onboard to catch these early on. We even went to see RiffTrax Live twice at the Belcourt when they were in town (and happily, they do Live shows in town quite regularly.) It's been a hoot (and much easier) to catch up and keep up with their new endeavors. (They riffed on Sharknado this month!)

Thanks to RiffTrax we were introduced to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who we have also grown to love. Tompkins is one elegantly dressed comedian and very funny guy. He guest-starred with the guys in RiffTrax on their House on Haunted Hill mockery fest. Aside from his stand up (and many other cool projects) Tompkins hosts his own internet talkshow called Speakeasy  -- where he interviews fellow comedians/writers/actors at a bar, over a smooth drink. This is a show I've grown to love nearly as much as I love Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (and I say "nearly" only because I can get CCGC anytime on the Crackle channel on the Roku, whereas Chris has to first cast Speakeasy for me so I can watch it off the Roku while I stay comfortably seated on the couch. That extra step only just makes the show a little out of my immediate access.)

Tompkins with Paget Brewster      Photo ©Jonathan Reilly

Of course, discovering Paul F. Tompkins helped us find "Acker and Blacker's The Thrilling Adventure Hour" -- a marvelous "staged production done in the style of old time radio", and our favorite feature, is of course, the one Tompkins stars in  -- Beyond Belief. Beyond Belief is a marvelous feature about Frank and Sadie Doyle who live at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, drink like lushes all day long and oh yeah -- "they see ghosts" (as well as all sorts of other paranormal phenomena!!) It's hilarious fun to listen to the podcast.

Tompkins and beautiful Paget Brewster -- who plays the beautiful Sadie -- are like a cool, paranormal-sensitive modern take on Nick and Nora Charles from the 1934 movie The Thin Man. (We LOVE that movie series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy and bought that set years ago. So we really enjoy the premise of Beyond Belief!)

If you haven't watched or listened to any of these, I hope you will take a moment, check them out and make time for them. They're just fun!

So a huge Thank You! to all the marvelous and talented writers and entertainers (they sing and do different voices as well as act and are funny!) involved with these favorite shows of ours ... I deeply appreciate ya'll and the shows you create!


J Carls said...

I was lucky enough to stumble on MST3K during its initial run and it became a weekly ritual to tape it so I could watch at my leisure.

During that time, one of my friends was in a graduate program, stuck in a provincial college town somewhere in the mid-West (but apparently nowhere near Minneapolis-St. Paul). He had never heard of the show, so I sent six of my taped episodes (including the classic "My Little Jungle Goddess" skit) and sent them to him. Years later, I was really gratified to discover that this represented a turning point in his life. Or at least, he didn't kill himself out of sheer boredom. Something like that.

Even though the end of MST3K was sad, it's great that the RiffTrax guys can also lavish attention on all those short industrial films in their live shows. So much material, so little time...

Erica Well said...

My goodness, yes!

I'm happy they all keep going with it between RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic now.