DADDY-O'S DRIVE-IN DIRT
SCI FI ARCHIVES
The forecast called for rain, but it never materialized, and January 11th turned out to be warm and sunny. Even the weather seemed to be welcoming Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett to San Francisco for the "Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Symposium" at SF SketchFest 2004.
The "Symposium" took place at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco's North Beach area. Hosted by the Sklar brothers, twin comedians Randy and Jason, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative event. The Sklars introduced themselves and performed a short comedy routine, but they knew who the audience had paid to see and quickly brought Mike, Kevin and Bill to the stage. It was time to hear about "The State of Bad Movies Today."
Mike kicked off the Symposium (Mike: "What is a 'symposium,' anyway?") with an essay about the true cause of bad movies. Let's just say our simian friends wouldn't want to hear it.
Bill offered a slightly different theory about the cause of bad movies. He concentrated on one movie in particular to make his case, The Fifth Element, starring the highly acclaimed Sir Ian Holm and the not-so-acclaimed Gary Oldman.
The retelling of the movie's convoluted and extremely silly plot took a heavy emotional toll on playwright Bill, and by the end of his essay he literally collapsed into his chair with exhaustion.
In contrast to Mike and Bill, Kevin skipped trying to explain the cause of bad movies and instead read a letter he had written to one of the prime stars of the genre today, Ben Affleck. Rather than try to describe what was contained in the letter, we'll let you hear it for yourself. Kevin recently read the letter on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, and you can listen to it in RealAudio format by clicking HERE.
The Sklar brothers claimed to be huge MST3K fans, and during the question
and answer period, it showed. Rather than waste time explaining the concept of the show and asking the most basic
questions, they instead focused on the nuts and bolts of producing the series and exploring some of the rumors
that have been floating among fans for years. Is it true that each writer had a "specialty" area, one
for pop culture, one for sports, etc.? "Not really," said Bill, "although if we needed to know something
about sports, we would go to Paul Schersten." Added Mike, "And if we needed to know something about obscure
vaudevillian actors, we'd ask Frank. He was our 'go to guy' for vaudeville."
While avoiding the most frequently asked questions, the Sklars did ask the one question that each member of the cast has been asked ad nauseum for years: "What is your favorite episode?" For the record, the answers are as follows:
The formal Q&A period ended and the "home game" portion of the show began. To illustrate how easy it is for people in Hollywood to come up with bad movie ideas, six audience members were called onstage and given a stack of index cards. The idea was simple. At a cue from Mike, each person would randomly pick a card from his or her stack and all the cards would be strung together to form a movie pitch. Each pitch created was absolutely hilarious and could actually stand a chance to be produced.
Questions were then taken from the audience. While nothing new was asked, there
was one surreal moment when a woman angrily demanded to know why THE FINAL SACRIFICE was MSTed. It turned
out she was Canadian, and actually liked the film. "Why?" asked Mike. "Because of its accurate
portrayal of life in Canada?"
Finally, the Sklar brothers asked Mike, Kevin and Bill if there was a chance that
MST3K would ever return. "I'm sure it will," said Kevin. "Look at Star Trek. I think
after it's gone for a few years, people will want it to come back. But I don't know in what form it will be."
Satellite News would like to thank Jason and Randy Sklar, SF SketchFest, Cobb's Comedy Club, and, of course, Mike, Kevin and Bill for their assistance and patience during our coverage of this event.