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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Weekend Discussion Thread: Dated-but-Still-Funny Riffs

Alert regular Brandon opines:

How about dated or topical riffs that are still very funny? I know we often mention riffs that feel outdated, or ones where the reference has been sort of lost, but what about ones that may be dated but still make us crack up laughing.
An example for me would be from 1013- Diabolik, during the press conference scene where the audience starts laughing (due to laughing gas), and Servo exclaims, “Dan Quayle announces his candidacy!” That riff always floors me.

What’s your pick?

Keep those WDT suggestions coming!

95 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Dated-but-Still-Funny Riffs”

  1. GornCaptain says:

    @49 Don’t be too sure. We’re practically back in the cold war where Russia is concerned these days.

       2 likes

  2. goalieboy82 says:

    also from Giant Spider Invasion when the paster is preaching,
    Dennis Rodman are you listening?
    from Boggy Creek:
    “Now they stumble on the Rose Law Firm billing records”
    from Jack Frost:
    The moon is out, there’s plenty of light…” “Chernobyl’s on fire, it’s great!”

       1 likes

  3. ck says:

    In Space Mutiny, when Rock Hughabs first gets on the deck he gives some
    sort of chip for Santa Claus to put in the computer, Tom or Crow say:
    “You’ve got mail.”

       3 likes

  4. Jay says:

    Jay:
    “Calgon.Take me away!”

    Correction: “Kalgan, blow me away.” (Space Mutinity)

       3 likes

  5. robot rump! says:

    tMVoS: as the seagulls fly by, J&tB sing ‘I ran.’ i really thought those guys were gonna be the next ‘the Beatles.’ siiighhh

       5 likes

  6. Kevin says:

    Prepare to meet Kali’s brother.. Near Hell!

    Operation Double 007

       2 likes

  7. Ben says:

    Kenotic:
    Northwest Airlines jokes. NW was based in the Twin Cities, so they ripped on them a lot.

    The Giant Gila Monster, as a luggage is on the side of the road: “I’m guessing a Northwest flight just passed overhead.”

    Time Chasers had quite a few as well, mostly aimed at their bad customer service record — having flown them a bit in the late 90s I would have to agree.

    Or how about good ol’ “Lost Continent” when they crash: “Thank you for flying Northwest!”

       2 likes

  8. EricJ says:

    Goshzilla:
    Jimmy Smits

    Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale

    (See, there were ads on TV for the movie, for the week that it was in theaters, and mostly showed the guy running, and…ehh, had to be there.
    More people would get the Sci-Fi era references to Forsaken and Kahlua’s “Brown Sugar”.)

    And although Jack Perkins and Peter Graves hosting Biography will probably never be forgotten…has any Codename: Diamond Head fan ever been alive to watch an episode of Lovejoy on A&E??
    Okay, trivia time, how many other golden-days-of-cable geezers even know who or what Lovejoy WAS, apart from the fact that Ian McShane had something to do with it?

       4 likes

  9. robot rump! says:

    also from Danger! Death Ray! ‘Abe Lincoln is time cop.” not the worst JCVD movies but…eh…
    if i may ask, since there have been 4 episodic series, 10 movies and the reboot since the original star trek, are all of the ‘Spooooocks, I’m not going back Jim’s and help me Kirk, help me’s’ considered dated or just obscure TV references by your average man about town?

       2 likes

  10. David Mello says:

    How about in “Amazing Transparent Man” when Crow laughs and says “Arnold Schwartzenegger pregnant”?
    Or the occasional “Ponds and Fleischmann” joke, including in “Wild Wild World of Batwoman.” They were the guys who claimed they discovered cold fusion.
    Or “look out, Mr. Trevino” at the start of “Bride of the Monster. He was hit by lightning in 1975, yet they made a joke about it 16 years later

       2 likes

  11. robot rump! says:

    and just how many people get the soccer team strewn all over the landscape jokes?

       5 likes

  12. robot rump! says:

    Terry the Sensitive Knight:
    Zombie Nightmare, references to Tim Burton’s Batman.

    With the incredible success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films(and the resurgence of superhero movies in general), I think most people would as soon forget the 90s Batman movies ever happened.

    i honestly believe if most people remember those movies it’s for 2 reasons: Nicholson’s Joker and Batman and Robin’s overall suckiness.

       3 likes

  13. EricJ says:

    EricJ: Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale

    Er, oops, sorry, didn’t notice the header was Dated But Still Funny Riffs. Never mind.

    In that case, would be something more like all those references to Lancelot Link (“Laaaance!”) that, like Supercar, Clutch Cargo and Abbott & Costello’s Joe Besser, were…all too familiar to Comedy Channel viewers at the time.

       2 likes

  14. Edwin B says:

    One dated reference that still cracks me up is when they mock those old album commercials by Sessions. In Tormented they do it a lot, and I laugh harder each time! Sessions presents, Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds: ‘Don’t pull your love out on me, baby’

    Another 70s reference I love is in Pod People when they do the Mc Cloud joke. It gets funnier every time, especially when they add other 70s icons to the list, like John Boy.

    I always try to imagine younger viewers reaction to stuff like this! It makes the jokes even funnier.

       3 likes

  15. JCC says:

    EricJ: Er, oops, sorry, didn’t notice the header was Dated But Still Funny Riffs.Never mind.

    In that case, would be something more like all those references to Lancelot Link (“Laaaance!”) that, like Supercar, Clutch Cargo and Abbott & Costello’s Joe Besser, were…all too familiar to Comedy Channel viewers at the time.

    You know Ed, that’s a long way to go for a, uh, a little joke…[/Carson]

       6 likes

  16. Kali says:

    I know the Batman jokes in Zombie Nightmare will forever be timely, but we can’t let them pass. Surely a new generation will wonder how this fat old man could possibly be Batman when everyone knows Batman’s a dark knight with a stupid voice. [snark]

    Mike (as Adam): I’ll call Burt Ward – I know he’s not busy.

    When Captain Churchman picks up Molly near the end.
    Adam: Get in the car, witch!
    Molly: Yes, Mr. Churchman.
    Servo (as Molly): Oh, is your Batmobile in the shop?
    Crow (as Adam): Shut up!

       7 likes

  17. Kali says:

    In one of the Commando Cody shorts – on first seeing Cody:
    Servo: Scott Tracy!
    Crow: Less animated.

    Lost Continent:
    Servo: There’s Vitalis all over this rope, CESAR!
    (Do they even sell Vitalis any more?)

    And of course, any mention of rich Corinthian leather.

    I would say, “By this time, my lungs were aching for air,” but that stopped being funny the fifth time the guys pulled it.

       1 likes

  18. Fart Bargo says:

    Here’s a couple that were used in multiple episodes;

    “By that time, my lungs were…” Sea Hunt reference

    “I thought you were Dale!?” Dish soap reference

    Skit from Hobgoblins, accidental turn on. Robert Palmer

       4 likes

  19. Angie Schultz says:

    Okay, trivia time, how many other golden-days-of-cable geezers even know who or what Lovejoy WAS, apart from the fact that Ian McShane had something to do with it?

    *shakes cane at EricJ* I LIKED IT VERY MUCH! Now get up and change the channel, you scamp. Granny wants to watch Jeremy Brett. *pours brandy in her Geritol*

       6 likes

  20. Satoris says:

    Dan Quayle announces his presidential candidacy! In front of the whole room cracking up. I still laugh when I think about it.

       8 likes

  21. EricJ says:

    Fart Bargo:
    Here’s a couple that were used in multiple episodes;
    “By that time, my lungs were…” Sea Hunt reference

    Also, apart from Mike Nelson probably getting inevitable backstage kidding about his name, think Sea Hunt was rerunning on TNT Network in the wee-hours around that time in the early 90’s (back when TNT symbolized the Golden Age of Cable Reruns), before being exiled to ThisTV.
    Yep, like Swamp Thing, another ref you had to have been clicking channels on Friday night or Saturday morning in 1991 to get.

    IIRC, TNT was also showing Then Came Bronson reruns, at about 5am on weekdays….Man, I wish I was you.

       4 likes

  22. ahaerhar says:

    I don’t know that they’re still funny if you weren’t there, but I still like the riffs based on the “You’re not dealing with AT&T” commercials.

       6 likes

  23. Mike says:

    From The Pumaman:

    Vadinho: Before you call the police…
    Crow: Caress!

    “Before you dress, Caress” was the advertising slogan for Caress brand skin care products.

       5 likes

  24. Abrabra Navelnite says:

    Angie Schultz:
    Okay, trivia time, how many other golden-days-of-cable geezers even know who or what Lovejoy WAS, apart from the fact that Ian McShane had something to do with it?

    *shakes cane at EricJ*I LIKED IT VERY MUCH!Now get up and change the channel, you scamp.Granny wants to watch Jeremy Brett.*pours brandy in her Geritol*

    I’ll have the same, and you kids get off my lawn!

       3 likes

  25. goalieboy82 says:

    from Final Justice, when the mob brother is shot and falls,
    In the time it takes him to fall, the government in Italy changes three times.
    back in the day, the government (mainly the Prime Minister) of Italy would change alot.

       3 likes

  26. jjb3k says:

    As an unapologetic ’90s geek (hell, I draw a webcomic about it), I love all the then-topical riffs they made throughout the decade. They serve as a neat little time capsule of the era this show came from. A few of my favorites:

    – “This Bart Simpson stuff is everywhere!” (Rocketship X-M) In 1990, yes, it was.
    – “And Madonna thinks she’s innovative!” (Here Comes the Circus) Between Truth Or Dare and that Sex book, 1992 was a very explicit year for Madonna. Don’t think she ever did it clown style, though.
    – “Meanwhile, at Kurt Cobain’s house…” (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) Darkly accurate for October 1993, and squirm-inducingly tragic six months later.
    – “I don’t like the new Models Inc. storyline.” (Racket Girls) Does anyone remember that show?
    – “This is still better than Junior” (Night of the Blood Beast) Does anyone remember that movie?
    – “A terrible sound is in his ears” “It’s Paula Cole, I think.” (The Touch of Satan) That damn “I Don’t Wanna Wait” song was everywhere in 1997; this episode is from a year later, but when the Brains hated a song, they never stopped letting people know.

       4 likes

  27. Franklin Hart says:

    Apologies for the digression…

    “Research? I haven’t been in research since I was at the U doing kitchen cabinet analysis for Ken Keller’s house.”

    2 likes.

    I’m very glad to see 2 likes for that. It gives me hope that I am not entirely alone in my memory of obscure Minneapolis mini-scandals. :)

    I was also quite amused when Ken Keller himself was kind enough to explain the joke for this site:

    “In 1988, renovations to the university president’s house (Eastcliff) were the hot scandal of the day with lots of talk about a $600,000 kitchen. Aside from the fact that there was no such kitchen (that was the price of the whole renovation, but that’s a longer story), it made great headlines for a couple of months. Since I was the president at the time, the headlines were about me and “my house.” So Twin Citians at the time would have known the reference.

    Never thought of hiring researchers to do the kitchen cabinet analysis. We did it the old-fashioned way: you buy the cabinets and you hang them.”

    http://www.mst3kinfo.com/?p=7672

    My goodness, I find that joke endlessly funny. And I really want to like Ken Keller for being such a good sport.

       3 likes

  28. EricJ says:

    jjb3k:
    As an unapologetic ’90s geek (hell, I draw a webcomic about it), I love all the then-topical riffs they made throughout the decade. They serve as a neat little time capsule of the era this show came from. A few of my favorites:
    – “I don’t like the new Models Inc. storyline.” (Racket Girls) Does anyone remember that show?
    – “This is still better than Junior” (Night of the Blood Beast) Does anyone remember that movie?

    Servo: “And then, in the least dramatic scene since Date With An Angel…” (Rocket Attack USA)
    Not 90’s, but how many remember that one either?

    I’ll also challenge anyone to remember “the Taster’s Choice ads” from ’90-’92, whenever characters have a long romantic soap-opera conversation about nothing in particular.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozl6fiD9vrw

       2 likes

  29. JCC says:

    jjb3k:
    As an unapologetic ’90s geek (hell, I draw a webcomic about it), I love all the then-topical riffs they made throughout the decade. They serve as a neat little time capsule of the era this show came from. A few of my favorites:

    – “This Bart Simpson stuff is everywhere!” (Rocketship X-M) In 1990, yes, it was.
    – “And Madonna thinks she’s innovative!” (Here Comes the Circus) Between Truth Or Dare and that Sex book, 1992 was a very explicit year for Madonna. Don’t think she ever did it clown style, though.
    – “Meanwhile, at Kurt Cobain’s house…” (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) Darkly accurate for October 1993, and squirm-inducingly tragic six months later.
    – “I don’t like the new Models Inc. storyline.” (Racket Girls) Does anyone remember that show?
    – “This is still better than Junior” (Night of the Blood Beast) Does anyone remember that movie?
    – “A terrible sound is in his ears” “It’s Paula Cole, I think.” (The Touch of Satan) That damn “I Don’t Wanna Wait” song was everywhere in 1997; this episode is from a year later, but when the Brains hated a song, they never stopped letting people know.

    Sadly, I do remember Models Inc. I had a big crush on one of the actresses on the show (Teresa Hill). It was a really bad show.

    And “I Don’t Wanna Wait” was given a second life as the theme song to “Dawson’s Creek” which lasted until 2003. So still relevant when they made the joke.

       1 likes

  30. Dr. Z says:

    #422 The Day the Earth Froze

    Servo – “Look it’s Thomas Edison and his electric child!”

    It may not be dated bit it gets me everytime. (Hmm maybe it is dated…)

       1 likes

  31. Torgospizza-NJ says:

    From MITCHELL, John Don Baker in an extreme close up in the helicopter: “It’s Jimmy Osmond, all grown up!”

       3 likes

  32. pondoscp says:

    Well, since the show went off the air 16 years ago, every reference is dated. But thanks to things like MeTV and AntennaTV, everything old is new again.

       3 likes

  33. Spade says:

    Pod People – even back when I had no idea which TV show the whole “Chief?” “McCloud!” exchange was referring to, I still found it wonderfully hilarious how they drove that gag right into the ground through sheer repetition.

    In fact, I’d argue that, if you enjoy the David Letterman style of over-repeating jokes at just the right pace, until just the repetition alone makes them funnier than they ought to be, then this running gag will always become hysterical, even if you never get the original dated reference.

    (For me, it also helps that the “Chief?” “McCloud!” exchange became a source of MST3K bonding for me and one of my friends, which is probably the main reason I’m still fond of it.)

       3 likes

  34. RedZoneTuba says:

    “Oh, E. G. Marshall, you are a bold one!”

       3 likes

  35. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    John A:
    The research assistants from Boggy Creek “checking the land they bought from the Clintons.”

    Don’t know if you noticed… but the Clintons are still topical. The problem is there are too many scandals to keep up with.

    The razorback hat lacks the subtle dignity of the cheese wedge. Go Packers!

    “Packers won the Superbowl!” was true in 2010 and 1996, but will always be funny no matter how dated.

       3 likes

  36. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    to echo Mr. B(ob) @ #27…

    Wow… interesting to see how people are making this question their own.

    The essential premise of MST3K is to take cultural references from every era. I would not consider Crow’s The War Civil documentary to be dated. I also would not consider the jokes about Thomas Jefferson “making time” with a slave in Time Chasers to be dated. Both make historical references.

    Y’all can think what you want, but to me the topic is clearly about references that were TOPICAL/CURRENT at the time the episodes originally aired. It is not about references to things that were regular MST cultural reference fodder. Therefore, any of the Bicentennial references in Riding With Death are NOT dated in the context of this question. They were never topical/current to begin with.

    And in the history is cyclical vein… I’d add another one from Girl’s Town. There’s a Bill Clinton teen clone at Silver’s party trying to molest a girl who appears to protest his advances. To all you millenials, Bill was known for his profligate indiscretions, including one particular tenure defining in flagrante delicto. (Devil with a Blue Dress….) His retort:

    “Hillary who, baby?!”

       4 likes

  37. Tim_Servo says:

    EEEGAH:

    Near the time of the famous “watch out for snakes line”,, Statement is similar to;”Don’t forget where we parked Supercar!”,
    Early 1960`s British marionettes show (like Stingray etc.), which I hate to say I remember when it was new.

       0 likes

  38. senorpogo says:

    The Last Boy Scout has dropped out of the top five. Many of us in the industry have taken note of its lackluster domestic performance. I mean look, if Bruce Willis’s career continues its downward slide it could be a setback to the forces of evil everywhere.

    You’re right, Frank. This is cause for concern. You remember, “The Return of Bruno”.
    Ahhhhh…….

       3 likes

  39. goalieboy82 says:

    anytime someone turned on a radio, someone would say some type of old radio show.

       0 likes

  40. JeremyR says:

    A lot of the riffs were dated when they were made – the audience of the show was presumably the same sort that watched a lot of TV and re-runs

    You really don’t have a lot ore re-runs anymore. TV channels mostly show reality TV or infomercials.

       0 likes

  41. EricJ says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance

    The essential premise of MST3K is to take cultural references from every era. I would not consider Crow’s The War Civil documentary to be dated.

    Annoyed jokes about all the romance-novel gushing over Sullivan Ballou’s love letter, however, which the PBS/Ken Burns marketing machine drove into the ground at the time, have “1990” stamped all over them. (Or, in Mike’s case, 1994, but it still bugged him.)
    Nowadays, if you hear an annoyed Ken Burns parody, the word “Baseball” will be in it somewhere. But not back then.

    Tim_Servo:
    EEEGAH:
    Near the time of the famous “watch out for snakes line”,, Statement issimilar to;”Don’t forget where we parked Supercar!”,Early 1960`s British marionettes show (like Stingray etc.), which I hate to say I remember when it was new.

    I don’t remember Supercar when it was new, I remember when the then-Comedy Channel (for reasons no one to this day can figure out) showed it on The Higgins Boys & Gruber.
    Embarrassingly enough, I get the show’s references to Higgins Boys & Gruber, too, and not just because of Dave Gruber showing up in the CT shows.

       1 likes

  42. Atorgo says:

    I don’t know whats lamer EricJ, your perpetual Michael J. Nelson hate-on or your pathetic pining for early 90’s basic cable like it was some kind of apex of entertainment.

       6 likes

  43. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    EricJ: Annoyed jokes about all the…

    You’re projecting. Just because you are annoyed about, well, pretty much everything does not mean that annoyance was the spirit in which the host segment was executed. Sometimes imitation really is flattery, or at least indicative of fondness.

    EricJ, I hereby dub you Lambert. Before you feel flattered, you are not like the sheepish lion. You’re more like Lambert in Alien, an oblivious whiner.

    Lambert/EricJ:
    I can’t see a g-dd@mn thing.

    Kane:
    Quit griping.

    Lambert/EricJ:
    I like griping.

       4 likes

  44. JCC says:

    Lambert the Sheepish Lion ref gets an automatic like from me! :yes:

       2 likes

  45. Doryna says:

    Just like to point out that some jokes circle back around, like one in ”Indestrucible Man” about Dick Cheney. When I rewatched the episode once in 2006, after he was firmly entrenched as Vice President (and I think not long after the infamous hunting incident had gone down), I was like, “OMG, how did they KNOW?” Until I remembered that, of course, Dick Cheney has been in politics a long time, and at the time the episode was made, he was (as I recall from my research) Secretary of Defense.

       0 likes

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