"I dreamed a gold man was reading to me from a dirty book."
May 23, 2008 5:03 AM   Subscribe

"You people bring matches for Mikey?" When people fondly remember TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000 they commonly focus on the film riffing part of the show, but some of the best comedy to come out of the Satellite of Love involves the host segments that provided a break from the movie. MSTies over at Satellite News have spent the past ten weeks discussing the best host segments from each season of the show, analyzing what makes some segments work while others fall flat.

Seasonal breakdown: [KTMA/1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10]

A few of my favorite sketches include Mike's kiddie show, Joel becomes a 007 villain, Joel remembers the 1960s, autopsy of Mr. Hoover, the Orville Popcorn sketch, Mike and the bots provide some local color, Idiot Control Now (first the setup, then the segment), and the epic Timmy arc.

And if you need to brush up on your host segment transcripts, there's always Ward E.
posted by Servo5678 (65 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
No "Gamera Song"? No "Sandy Frank Song"? No "Idiot Control Now"? No "Tibby Song"? I thought they might be seperating sketches from songs, but there are a few songs on there as well. They even picked the new age music sketch over Idiot Control Now from "Pod People".

Also, I'm surprised they could even pick any from season 8 on - the host segments got pretty unwatchable after Pearl Forrester took over. I used to like those episodes a lot less until I figured out that fast forwarding though everything but the movie itself improved them infinitely.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:14 AM on May 23, 2008

Ah, I see in the replies many people mentioned these. Also, the opening credits spoof from Cave Dwellers. Joel looks like he's a hair's breadth away from totally cracking up through the whole thing.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:20 AM on May 23, 2008

I realize that Mike was head writer when Joel was around, but still to this day I cannot watch a Mike episode. The Peter Graves bit I watched, steely faced and solemn, with not even a whit of laughter or joy.

Why is this? Mike just seems so wooden and unnatural is his roles, even in the earlier episodes before Joel left, I guess. I can't explain it, I have tried desperately to force myself to see the appeal of a Joel-less Mike, but the jokes weren't funny anymore. It sucks, because I simply can not watch 2/3 of the seasons.
posted by dozo at 5:35 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

It's funny, because I'm exactly the opposite. Joel is so terrible at delivering his lines, stuttering and stammering without a hint of emoting, that even the intellectually funniest things leave me more or less cold. (I'm talking about the segments--in the theater they are both funny.) Mike also does some really great impressions. His Ted Nelson (is that the name I want?) is so hilariously right it's almost scary.
posted by DU at 5:42 AM on May 23, 2008

Mike's Kiddie Show is my all-time favorite. Those who don't like Mike for whatever reason are missing some of the best episodes of the series.

I disagree about the quality of the host segments when Pearl took over. We all suffered when TV's Frank ascended into Second Banana Heaven and it hurt to see Dr. Forrester turn into that star baby, but when they got over to Scifi and had the host segments follow some semblance of a storyline, hopping from planet to planet to mock various scifi staples, I think they had some of their strongest stuff. I don't think anyone can turn their nose up at the addition of Professor Bobo and Observer/Brain Guy.

I was kind of disappointed when the budget ran dry/they tired of building a new set every week and they got stuck at Castle Forrester, but there was still some good out of there.

For all those interested in the Joel/Trace/Frank/Mary Jo/Josh project Cinematic Titanic, there's a trailer for the next one out today. The password is "timetube". I'm not sure why there's a password for a promotional video, but I'm also not sure why there's a Clu Gulager.
posted by unsupervised at 5:44 AM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

My favourite segments that I remember was when Crow was doing musical flashbacks to each decade. "It's the 80's we're all doing coke and vote for Ronald Regan"... except when he goes to the 70's and goes all the way back to 70 AD but still does a song about Roman history with a disco beat.
posted by PenDevil at 5:45 AM on May 23, 2008

In defense of Mike: The Many Names of Space Mutiny's Main Character, which, at the end, includes what may be the greatest moment in any MST3K film.
posted by unsupervised at 5:49 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Mike vs. Joel is a Holy War type of debate. The truth is they both have their strengths, and although I used to be firmly in the Joel camp, I like both of them now, although most of my favorite episodes are with Joel. Joel's sleepy-voiced monotone delivery is part of his charm, and his riffing on the films themselves is much more good-natured than Mike, who often seemed overly sarcastic. Plus Mike had an annoying tendency to giggle at the bots' riffing, which was basically him laughing at his own jokes.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:51 AM on May 23, 2008

Well, I like Joel and Mike equally but in different ways.

And just in case anyone missed it the previous bajillion times it's been mentioned:

Rifftrax is Mike's riffing project, and Cinematic Titanic is Joel's.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:59 AM on May 23, 2008

AFAIC, the best ever was the hauntingly beautiful "Creepy Girl" song.
posted by Zonker at 6:01 AM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Any time you want some moonbeams, Gamera is the thing.

Nice post.
posted by cog_nate at 6:21 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I used to hate Mike and love Joel until I actually read the credits and realized Mike was head writer before he wore the yellow jumpsuit. Mike just stepped in because Joel wanted to leave. It was behind-the-scenes a natural progression, a redistribution of the workload. There was no bad blood, although fans tried to find it or make it up.

If you watch the outtakes early on, it's kinda clear Mike wasn't really all that enthusiastic about his new role. It was just the whole "the show must go on" kinda thing. They all enjoyed what they were doing. They wanted to keep getting paid. So.. it's not like it's Mike's fault Joel left. Joel wanted to move on and since Mike had been head writer it was either let him do it or hire somebody from outside who they'd have to coddle and adapt to the role.

Once one gets past the irrational Mike hatred, and gives the guy a chance, one realizes that while both Joel and Mike each have their strengths and weaknesses, one can appreciate both of them equally on their own merits and sincerity in the role of comic foil to a couple puppets.



Oh. And best host segment ever? Joel Remembers the Sixties without question.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:25 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fightin' men and monsters set, Rex Dart: Eskimo Spy!, and KTLA predicts seem to have been left off the list.
posted by cog_nate at 6:36 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

although I used to be firmly in the Joel camp, I like both of them now, although most of my favorite episodes are with Joel

Right. But Mike does have "Toobular Boobular Joy" and "Doughy Guys" to his credit. Those are two of my favorites.

Favorite MST3k outtake: "I'm gonna go fuck myself."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:41 AM on May 23, 2008

posted by anthill at 6:44 AM on May 23, 2008

The best comparison I ever heard is that Mike really, really wants to be the best damn man trapped on a satellite with robots and forced to watch horrible movies he can, while Joel's demeanor is more of a guy who rolled out of bed, smoked one, and then came in to goof around with puppets.

Neither is really better or worse, they've just got different styles.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:07 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay. Now that I am among friends, I will admit I have always wondered what the reference was to the whole "You people bring matches for Mikey?" skit. What piece of pop culture do I not recall?
posted by wittgenstein at 7:09 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Is it that I often panic while making sandwiches?"

Doesn't everybody?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:13 AM on May 23, 2008

My absolute favorite (besides the already mentioned Creepy Girl song!) is the prologue to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians where Crow, when asked what he wants for Christmas, says a line I still use to this day:

I want to decide who lives and who dies.

followed by Joel's "oh, I don't know..."
posted by Constant Reader at 7:17 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm a Joel fan, but I think he benefited from Mike's writing immensely.

it's an age old debate (by now), but I cannot convince myself Mike's as good a deliverer of jokes. One of the great things about MST3K was that the writers were doubling in front of the camera. Mike was the exception (constantly cameo-ing during the host segments, sometimes brilliantly "gym policy, mister").

I'm glad others are pouring their efforts into scrutinizing MST3K's corpse.
posted by Busithoth at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2008

If anyone ever figures out the "hum didda hee hee, hua hua" from Monster-a-go-go, I can die happy.
posted by subbes at 7:41 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wish a disembodied voice had warned Samuel L Jackson to "watch out for snakes!"
posted by DU at 7:56 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

Joel's droopy, sleepy delivery is one of the best sounds in the world.
Mike wasnt bad, but who could compete with that?

Also, Joel's early years spots on SNL with his inventions are classic, classic stuff.

Oh and if you never saw Joel's brilliant bit stuff on Freaks and Geeks, thee must remedy that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fSWKfzcXa8

(goes off to shower, put on Parisian Nightsuit)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:17 AM on May 23, 2008

Their "worst of season six" pick is the Urkel sketch? But... Urkel! Hey, everybody, it's Urkel! Look, Urkel! And so forth. Love!

Hey, there's a wikia.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:44 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

OH. And RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic are both great ideas but you have to pay up front to get them. I preferred it when they conned advertisers and networks to pay so I wouldn't have to. There's a recession going on in case no one's noticed.

Also, the fact that Mike and Joel aren't working together on these projects but each feel the need to launch their own separate ones? This does kinda cater to the needs of the fans who are also conspiracy theorists, and believe that there's some quiet bitterness and feuding going on here, despite several years of attempts by both men to insist there's no such thing.

"No. We don't mind working together. We just don't work together. It's not what you think."

Uh-huh. Pull the other one gentlemen -- and get some sponsors already! The groundlings wanna see!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:27 AM on May 23, 2008

Don't know how the Klack Industrial Saladoos commercial (commercial starts ~8:20) and SPACOM! got left out, either.
posted by cog_nate at 9:35 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

If anyone ever figures out the "hum didda hee hee, hua hua" from Monster-a-go-go, I can die happy.

Oh my God, me too! I've wondered about that for years. Most likely explanation is it's just totally random syllables and has no significance. I think I heard it in another 4th season episode as well, but I could be misremembering.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:38 AM on May 23, 2008

Also, in every episode with Kaiju monsters (the Gamera flicks and the one Godzilla flick they did), Joel says "Oh, that one, he's hard on shoes" and the bots reply "that one, that one" in an exaggerated Minnesota accent. Is that in reference to anything anyone would know about, or is it just something one of their mothers used to say, or what?
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:41 AM on May 23, 2008

Puma? Puma!
posted by theredpen at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2008

That's so odd, bunnytricks, I was just watching Sidehackers last night.
posted by mosk at 9:48 AM on May 23, 2008

I want to decide who lives and who dies.

And like Bender and Gir, Crow's indifference to human life is what made him so lovable to me.
posted by quin at 11:32 AM on May 23, 2008

I will never forget the Kathy Ireland tribute (can't watch it now so this might be a paraphrase):

Oh Kathy Oh Kathy
You fine Irish lassie
I want to go to your home
I want to come over
and roll in your clover
and kiss your Blarney Stone!
posted by SassHat at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2008

Kevin Murphy was easily the funniest thing about the show, in both its incarnations.
posted by EarBucket at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anyone got a link to that one host segment where they throw action figures of pop singers out of the lighthouse? I need that for my FBB league.
posted by vrakatar at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am shocked there is no waffle song with, perhaps, the best Dr. Forrester Raining on a Parade of All Time (not in the clip, dammit): "Waffles are nothing but a vehicle for butter and syrup."
posted by abulafa at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pretty much all of the host segments leave me pretty cold, much as the animated bits on Beavis and Butthead were (mostly) stretches of the show that I patiently endured while I waited for them to play more videos.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anyone got a link to that one host segment where they throw action figures of pop singers out of the lighthouse? I need that for my FBB league.

The movie in that episode was called "Tormented" if that helps your search at all.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:19 PM on May 23, 2008

I see that I will have to be the first one to mention the poopie suit.
posted by oaf at 12:42 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's pretty clear from recent interviews that the only feuding going on involves Jim Mallon.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Attack of the Giant Leeches, a Joel episode, with Mike as one of the holoclowns:

“Shut up, shut up! You think I like it being stuck in limbo with you???? No! Get on your orange and yellow knees and kiss my clown feet that I haven’t killed you!”
posted by Tim McDonough at 1:38 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

And of course, "Let Me Be Frank About Frank".
posted by Zonker at 4:25 PM on May 23, 2008

Tom: Oh, I wish I was blowing up Prince Edward Island
And going on to bomb Ontario
The destruction of Canada and all of its culture
Is by far my favorite scenario

Just where the hell does Canada get off sharing a border
With countries far superior to it
Why you lousy stinking Francophonic bacon-loving bastards
Your country's just a giant piece of sh-

Mike: Hey! Whoa!
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:49 PM on May 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

"What is it about the gates of hell that causes people to wander into them?!"

"I think it has to do with Smucker's preserves - it's the most like real raspberry jam!"

ChrysOstom , they used to feud a bit over the movie but that was TWELVE YEARS ago. Most marriages don't last that long.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:24 PM on May 23, 2008

I've been wondering why more people don't do this. How hard can it be to make fun of movies like this by talking over them? Apparently, it's not as easy as it looks. You have to have a wide knowledge in current events and trivial information in a wide variety of subject areas, so you can cater your humor to the widest possible audience while still not sounding condescending or ignorant. In other words, some people really shouldn't be trying this at all.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:27 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

We recently completed a Grand Tour: We have now seen EVERY episode of Mystery Science Theater.

jonp72 posted one of the best that was missed: The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus. One of Kevin Murphy's finest moments. Man he can sing.

I always seem to get to these love-ins late. Still, I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Joke by Ingmar Bergman by now.
posted by JHarris at 8:31 PM on May 23, 2008

ZM: Watching MST3K inspired me, as a kid, to try to develop my own movie riffing skills. (When any assembled are down with it, of course.) While I do occaisionally bat one out of the park (especially of the movie is Gladiator, it's the most riffable Best Picture winner ever), you really need a team of sharp writers to do it well.

By the way, isn't it nice to see ZachsMind in a context other than grumpy contrarian? I suspect he'll be getting a call from the Andy Rooney Committee soon for breaking character.
posted by JHarris at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

We are Waiting for Gorgo.

posted by dirigibleman at 8:50 PM on May 23, 2008

But Ingmar Bergman joke gets my vote as the best ever. Absolutely brilliant.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:01 PM on May 23, 2008

Oh, and I totally forgot about the Xuxa parody, which is also the greatest host segment ever. I think the Space Children arc is pretty much all awesome. When Pearl tells the girl that "nobody likes you", and the girl starts that delayed cry that kids do, it was just absolutely perfect. I almost felt bad for laughing.

I think everyone, but Mike especially, really amped up their game for the Sci-Fi episodes. If I were to put a preference, it would be Sci-Fi Mike -> Comedy Central Joel -> Comedy Central Mike.

I'm done, now.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2008

Hi, Everyone! Let's Pitch In 'N Get Crackin' Here In Louisiana Doin' Right, Eh? Now, Then, Hateful, Rich, Overbearing Ugly Guys Hurt Royally Everytime Someone Eats A Radish, Carrot, H'ors d'oeuvre, And Never Does Dishes. Eventually, Victor Eats Lunch Over Peoria Mit Ein Neuesberger Tod.

I did that from memory.

OK, I had to look up how to spell "Neuesberger".

I really am done, now.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:55 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

"What is it about the gates of hell that causes people to wander into them?!"

"I think it has to do with Smucker's preserves - it's the most like real raspberry jam!"

I almost died laughing at that when I was about 11 years old watching that episode for the first time. I seriously laughed as hard as I could for about 3 minutes. Just something about the way Joel says "it's SMUCKER'S raspberry preserves!" I don't think it's quite as funny now, but it's still hilarious.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

"...isn't it nice to see ZachsMind in a context other than grumpy contrarian?"

Funny you should mention that, JHarris. I got kicked out of the Rifftrax forums a year or two ago, because I demanded to know why Mike didn't find some way to riff on the Twin Towers early in the movie Cocktail. He purposefully remained silent when the Twin Towers were on screen and I took offense to that.

Naturally, everyone else in the forums took offense to me saying I took offense to that, because no one's supposed to make fun of the Twin Towers ever and I also take offense to that. We can make wisecracks about space shuttles exploding (anyone remember Need Another Seven Astronauts?) but we can't ever find humor in terrorist bombings? For shame!

That and my refusal to shut up about my unswerving hatred for all things Tom Cruise.

Grumpy contrarian, indeed!
posted by ZachsMind at 8:44 PM on May 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Could there be any more goose poop in ZachsMind's front yard?
posted by cog_nate at 9:18 PM on May 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is THAT what that is?
posted by ZachsMind at 5:41 AM on May 25, 2008

I still love Joel trying to cheer Crow and Servo up at the end of Monster A-Go-Go by dubbing them the Happy King and Sir Giggles von Laughsalot, while the bots break down and compare the film to an afternoon at your Aunt Ruth's house as a kid ("and she's got a Christian radio station on and there's nothing to do because all she's got are Good Housekeeping magazines and linen doilies, and so they send you out to play with the weird neighbor kids, and their skin is pink and they have huge pores and the eighth graders show you some disturbing pictures so you go back in and their conversation is boring and has a lot of long pauses and you can hear the clock ticking on the wall, and you dig in your couch seat and find a really old peanut and you're so bored you eat it, which makes you feel bad, and a little bit ill...")

All said while Tom is a Happy King and Sir Giggles von Laughsalot has a little stick jester puppet with his own head on it. That was brilliant stuff.

(I suppose I could've copied the transcript from the sketch but those were the parts that stood out with me the most.)
posted by Spatch at 5:53 AM on May 25, 2008

"Ward E is that gross feeling ya get when you push down the garbage, and something wet and unknown squirts on ya!?"

"I've seen Dali paintings that make more sense..."

"Trumpy, you come down!"

"You should have less movie and more chapstick."

"Ya gotta snap outta Shatner and help me!"

"Gentlemen, we have Commercial Sign. I'm sorry."
posted by ZachsMind at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2008

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