Satellite News - An Interview with Patrick Brantseg


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A continuing series profiling one member of the Best Brains organization.

This month:


Just about the last thing most MSTies expected was the recent announcement that MST3K executive producer Jim Mallon, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, has given up the role of Gypsy and handed it over to longtime Best Brains staffer Patrick Brantseg. But if you thought that was a surprise, this news may be even more of a shocker: Brantseg, 29, is no stranger to running Gypsy.

"I've actually done the puppeteering for Gypsy several times before, and then we dubbed in Jim's voice later," he reveals. This was especially true during the making of MST3K: The Movie, a substitution that allowed Mallon to concentrate on his role as the movie's director. Attendees to the most recent MST3K convention, who got a chance to see the "bomb shelter" scene -- deleted by Universal from the final version of the film -- will be interested to note that Brantseg ran Gypsy at several points during that scene. "I thought it was one of the highlights of the film," he says wistfully.

But, beginning with episode 815- Agent From H.A.R.M., the role is officially his, and, like Gypsy herself, Brantseg has a modest, unassuming attitude about it. "I'm mostly concentrating on getting the puppeteering right and learning my lines," he admits with a chuckle.

A full, credited role in the series is a long journey from the day in 1992 when he saw an ad in the paper for an intern at a local TV production company, and applied for a position at Best Brains.

"I was sort of aware of the show," he recalls. "I remember seeing it and hearing about it in the KTMA days and I remember thinking what a neat thing it was. But I had never seen an episode all the way through."

Brantseg quickly made himself indispensible around BBI and "kinda hit it off," with Toolmaster Jef Maynard. "After the internship was up, Jef kept hiring me on part time, and then finally I got a full-time job."

His title, in a place where people were known by such titles as "poobah" and "toolmaster," was "utility infielder," which meant he did a little bit of everything. But his favorite job was building sets and making props. "I enjoy sculpting and painting, since I've got an artistic background."

Brantseg already had artistic leanings a decade earlier when he "almost successfully completed two years" at the University of Minnesota, "doing very well in art classes and not so well in other things." Looking back on it, he quips, "I think there was an attitude problem -- the teachers', not mine."

More seriously, Brantseg admits that at that age he was "not ready to learn," and that it took him a few years before he decided to return to school, this time to Minneapolis Technical College, where he graduated with top grades. "I was ready to learn," he notes.

Patrick has several times been tapped to play small parts during host segments. His debut appearance was in episode 521- Santa Claus, in which he played one of the taciturn Nelson family. Another highlight was episode 613- The Sinister Urge when he played Rooster (and episode 614- San Francisco International when he reprised the role). He says one of his favorite appearances was in episode 616- Racket Girls when he, along with Mary Jo Pehl and Paul Chaplin, played a family of curious visitors to Deep 13.

Since moving to the Sci-Fi Channel, Patrick has popped up from the floor of the SOL as "Pale Day Player #1" in episode 803- The Mole People, and was inside the big blue monster that ate Crow in episode 804- The Deadly Mantis. But his largest role to date has been in episode 813- Jack Frost, when he worked very hard to be intentionally unfunny as unfunny comedian Yakov Smirnoff.

"That one was a lot of fun," he says. "The biggest problem was that I tried to research the part a bit and couldn't find anything about him! Finally, a friend of mine from Springfield, Missouri, sent me some promotional material on him. Apparently he's still a regular at the Osmond Family Theater in Branson."

But while those occasional appearances were mostly larks, Brantseg says he recognizes that getting the role of Gypsy is "quite a responsibility. She's a staple in the show, and I know how much people love her. I'm working hard to get the voice and the character just right."

Info Club Poobah Barb Tebben says there are no immediate plans to substitute Patrick's voice for Jim's during the "Robot Roll Call" in the opening credits. "He does such a good job with the voice it's hard to tell the difference," Barb enthuses. "Maybe they will do that next season."

Will Brantseg, who is married with no children, join the rest of the cast in the writing room? "I doubt it," Brantseg says firmly. "They're a bunch of professional writers. They don't need me in there. Just leave me out here with my hot glue gun."