Bill Corbett is an American writer and performer for television, film and theatre. He was a writer and performer on the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, for which he voiced the robot Crow T. Robot during the show's later seasons on the Sci Fi Channel and played the character Observer and other minor roles. In 2001, Corbett co-wrote the Sci Fi Channel miniseries The Adventures of Edward the Less with several other former MST3K writers. Corbett also co-wrote the 2008 film Meet Dave starring Eddie Murphy. From 2002 to 2006, Corbett was a member of The Film Crew, a movie-riffing comedic team comprising former MST3K costars Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy. Since 2006 Corbett has also recorded audio commentary tracks with Nelson and Murphy for Nelson's RiffTrax service and contributes regular humor posts to the RiffTrax blog.
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Helllllloooo Reddit! Great to be back here again. Bill Corbett ready to chat. Here's my proof that I am who I am, whether I like being me or not:
I'll be here for the next few hours. Please ask me anything! I will try to get to as many Qs as I can A, honestly, without libeling anyone, ranting obscenely or generally giving law enforcement any further reason to break down the door and throw my desktop into a barrel of acid. Again.
I'm very excited to talk about the new comic book I wrote called SUPER-POWERED REVENGE CHRISTMAS, a total retcon of the holiday turning traditional pop-culture Christmas characters into superheroes and supervillains. It's illustrated by artist Len Peralta, and I had the time of my life working on it:
I'd also love to jawbone about RiffTrax & MST3K, and some of the cool stuff still to come for RiffTrax in 2014 Anno Domini. First we have our next simulcast live show with Fathom Events on Thurs. December 4th, the classic weirdo Christmas movie SANTA CLAUS, starring St. Nick himself, a senile Merlin the wizard, a bunch of dancing devils, some creepy giant lips, and MORE:
We'll also have a brand-new short to open that night, from the stoned 1970s people who gave us "At Your Fingertips: Grasses."
AND THEN on Tues. December 16 we're back on TV! ...with a new special for the National Geographic Channel. One of our shows will feature the return of Mr. Richard Terry, the intrepid and beautifully-coiffed hunter of non-existent Demon Bats (who has been an awfully good sport about our wiseassery):
Lastly, I just want to alert bizarre film aficionados that we will soon be releasing one of my favorite RiffTrax offerings ever, a "movie" that rivals SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY for pure What The Hell Was That-ness called FUN IN BALLOONLAND. You can get a little preview here:
That is enough. Enough, I say. Let's chat.
AM! A! AMA!
UPDATE: Friends, I've been answering questions for the past 3.5 hours and need to go now and deal with family stuff. (Good wholesome stuff like kids and dinner, not crime family intrigue.)
I will try to come back later tonight and answer some questions I didn't get to, but it's looking like there's too many to answer every one in detail. So sorry if I missed yours.
THANK YOU for hanging out with me here, I've really enjoyed it! And I am grateful for your interest in all this odd stuff I do for a living. Cheers!
"The fiiiiinaaall upddaaaaaaaattteee...." [cue Gob Bluth music]
I came back and answered a whole bunch more questions and think I got a goodly percentage of 'em! Questions I didn't get to were ones where it felt like I'd answered already with the similar Q, elsewhere on the page. But apologies if anyone felt left out.
I can't thank you enough for the conversation, and the interest, and in general for being such lovely people. I had a lot of fun and hope you did too. Rock the heck on and THANK YOU, see you back here again sometime!
Do you and Trace ever get on skype and just try to out Crow each other?
Heh, no. But we did do a Crow vs. Crow panel at DragonCon a few years back, and we will be doing at least one convention together next year to chat about Crow and stuff (Salt Lake City ComicCon).
why is it so hilarious when you guys riff but cringeworthy when anyone else tries it?
Thanks, very flattering of you. Not sure I'd totally agree with that, since I've seen some funny people do this and be hilarious. (Like our fellow MST3k alums, of course.) But when I see it go flat I usually think one of two things is happening: 1) not written carefully enough -- it's really hard and time-consuming to write these well, and we are crazy and obsessive to do that! or 2) delivery is a little monotonous (though that can work if the right performer is doing it. Or both 1) and 2)....Then ARGHHH!
Hi Bill! How are you?
That's my question...how are you?
I know you had some medical thingies that caused you to miss DragonCon, so I was wondering if you are doing better. :)
Thanks, very kind of you. Yeah, I was bummed to miss DragonCon but I was literally seeing double and having massive head-and neck- aches. Weird nerve-related malady, not worth getting into (or that interesting). It's not totally gone yet, but at least 50% better and hopefully will continue in that direction!
Classic 50 minutes ago Bill Corbett...
He's such a jerk!
I know the licensing issues must be murder, and it's easier to get permission to make fun of the obvious flops, but do you guys have plans to riff more great/classic movies? Your riff of Casablanca is one of my favorites.
Yes, we'd love to do It's A Wonderful Life sometime. Also, the Godfather.
Sadly these don't sell even close to what an average VOD does, so we have to take care o' business. But every now and then we need a change of pace, and indulge ourselves. (e.g. Casablanca and Wizard of Oz)
The Twilight series are perhaps my favorite Rifftrax. I'm a grown man and I've seen each of the Twilight movies several times. Thanks Corbett
Heh heh, a lot of people -- esp. adult men -- simultaneously thank us and curse us because they now live with the knowledge of BEING SOMEONE WHO HAS SEEN ALL THE TWILIGHT MOVIES.
I feel your pain. My shame is great.
Big fan of MST3K here. Pretty sure you get this question a lot but what is your favorite Crow moment on the show?
Oh man, I love so many from both my time and Trace's. As a performer, I always loved it when Crow got carried away by an idea and sort of lost the thread -- like his documentaries about "Women," or the Civil War, or his falling into obsessiveness about characters in the movies (being a Belarian in Space Mutiny, a bear in Jack Frost). In general I loved how many different surreal places you could go with him and Servo and Gypsy, like cartoon characters.
Is there beer on the sun?
For most of us: no.
For Rowsdower: hell YES.
why do you think " bad " movies are so fun to watch?
I think at their best it's just a riot to try to follow what was intended, and what the people who made 'em ultimately wound up with. E.g. The Room, fully intended as a searing drama but result: a hilarious freak show.
Might be a little schadenfreude (sp?) too? And without getting too pretentious, I think they are actually kinda educational. Seeing what doesn't work and pinning down why sharpens your own critical taste and (hopefully) talents. Like, it's hard to see so many mid 20th century movies with bland square-jawed not-very-bright-or-effectual heroes to get a sense that that is NOT a good protagonist for any kind of interesting story, unless his blandness etc. is kind of the point (satirically or otherwise).
Hi Bill! Very grateful to you for doing this AMA!
Many of the MST3K/Rifftrax writers have quite diverse political viewpoints, as seen on Twitter or during various interviews.
Political riffs do, of course, show up from time to time (from both sides of the aisle) during episodes of MST3K or in Rifftraxes (Or Rifftrax. What is the correct plural of Rifftrax?)
Have the political differences ever caused any tension while writing or working together? If so, how do you work through it? Or have the riffs all been in good fun?
Great question. You're right, we do have some different political viewpoints. Never caused tension in the writing process as far as I can remember. We've had some intense discussions over beers at times, but none of us are really political fanatics or enjoy tend towards pure polemical humor that much. More about the absurdity of politics than anything. But yeah, we will do political jokes here and there because politics is part of life, and even when one of us isn't 100% for / against the subject of the joke, we know we'll have our shot too. That make sense?
Have you guys ever started doing commentary on a movie only to either find it unwatchable / unriffable and have to abandon it? Any good examples?
Yes. It happened in the MST3K days a few times, and more recently we actually wrote and recorded a short that we decided not to release after we watched it. It was a short film about a very intense, horrible subject -- a child molestor / killer -- which is excruciating as a subject matter. BUT the short was so, so, so comically bad, from acting choices to casting to writing to everything -- that we flirted with "well, that sort of overrides the horror." But when we saw it finished, we thought otherwise. Still really funny in parts, but we sort of seemed like monsters who joked about one of the most awful things in the world. Tough call but i'm glad we did.
My favorite part of the Twilight Rifftrax was how much you guys hammered home the blandness of the protagonists.
Man, did they give us a gift with that series.
Also chemistry. Personally I don't like the Rifftrax that Mike did by himself because you guys together have such great chemistry it feels like watching the film with a bunch of friends, and not like I'm forever alone
I think it's really tough when one person does it alone. Seems odd and without a real focus, like some lonely dude shouting into the void. Yes, forever alone.
1) How do I become as awesome as you?
2)I have Tom Servo tattooed on my leg. Does this make me cool? I am working on getting a Crow tattoo soon. Forgive me.
3) If you could have any super power, what would it be, and why?
4) What was your favorite skit from the MST3k era?
1) You are BETTER than me. I SENSE it, and RESENT it.
2) Definitely need to balance out the 'bot legs. MORE COOL.
3) Power to eat all the cheese in the world, every day. Combination gluttony / hoarding / vanity power I guess.
4) Oh Lord, too many to sort through and my head is old and addled. See about Q about Crow's fave moments, mayhaps?
What was it like taking over the role of Crow T Robot after Trace Beaulieu?
Exciting, a great honor, and also scary. Trace was so so great as Crow, I was a fan long before I knew I'd be picking up that beautiful 'bot. I didn't want to mess up the great character Trace and the Best Brains writers had created. Only history can say whether or not I did! (Actually, anyone can say, at any time. But I will be hiding.)
I've always said give the people what they want. When can we expect the high-profile picture of your oiled buttocks that we've all been waiting for?
Ha! I made a joke about that very thing -- me doing a Kim K. photoshoot -- on Twitter yesterday then realized: man, it's early in the day and people are still waking up, having breakfast, etc. It was cruel of me to make them even consider that grotesque image to begin their day. Mea culpa, social media-heads!
If you could have anyone as a guest riffer, who would you choose and what movie would you riff with them?
I'd love to riff a movie with a great actor or comedian who wound up IN that movie, for better or worse. Like having Robert DeNiro and Kenneth Branagh riff with us for their 1990s Frankenstein.
What was the first movie to make a big impact on you, comedic or otherwise?
Oh, this will seem SO uncool but when I was a real little kid the first movies that really made my brothers and I laugh were Jerry Lewis movies -- e.g. Nutty Professor, Disorderly Orderly, etc. I'd love to say it was, like, Dr. Strangelove... but in truth it was Jer.
But I also a huge Bugs Bunny fan, and think I recognized that there was a lot of good subtle stuff in these cartoons that I wasn't getting yet, all the while enjoying the more obvious kid-entertaining stuff. That is ideal comedy for me, that can work on all kinds of levels from dumb slapstick to astute cultural reference / satire.
P.S. -- also remember loving British comedies and comedians as I got to be a slightly older kid -- Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, the Ealing comedies.
And Laurel and Hardy, always always. The best.
I remember Joel saying that he actually enjoyed many of the movies on MST3K. Do you have any favorites from the show or RiffTrax that you enjoy un-riffed?
Yes indeed, and even when I don't enjoy the entirety of the movie i can enjoy parts of it, even when it's silly pop culture stuff.
We recently did a movie called Hawk the Slayer than was dumb in many ways, but I actually started to enjoy much of it AS A MOVIE, not just fodder. Ditto some recent simulcast live shows: Anaconda, Starship Troopers. Didn't love every moment -- and some moments were ridiculous, intended or not -- but really quite liked long stretches of both of them. The more I do this, the less I feel the need to strictly separate the sheep and the goats. Some movies are unequivocally bad, others undeniably great -- the vast majority lie in a spectrum between those two.
I thought the whole point of Rifftrax vs MST3K was that they didn't have licensing issues?
Started that way back in 2006 with MP3 commentaries you could synch up, and we still have tons of those on our site. But we branched out and do other stuff too now, to be able to deliver full VODs of cheesier old movies and shorts. We needed it for our sanity, too -- riffing 2.5 hour blockbusters with loooooong action-y Act Threes takes it toll.
Did anybody get that on camera? Please say Dueling Crows at DragonCon made it on camera!
Heh, it was less antagonistic than it sounded. Very hype-y name, but mostly Trace and I chatting about the character. I think a video of that panel IS actually included on one of the MST3K collections?
Hi Bill, thanks for all the laughs! Will there be a Rifftrax to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 anytime soon?
Eventually! But we were pretty traumatized by the length / slow pace of the last one. We must heal.
You and Trace attend an acting (puppeteering?) seminar where you're both given a questionnaire about the character you're playing (in this case, Crow T. Robot), designed to help you develop a more rounded backstory for the character and better understand his personality and motivations. There are questions about the character's history, how he would respond to various problems and ethical dilemmas, how he spends his leisure time, etc. What are some questions for which you and Trace would give significantly different answers, and what would you imagine said answers would be?
In A Year at the Movies, it was revealed that Tom Servo's opinions on the character of Forrest Gump as implied in episode 813, Jack Frost, was suspiciously congruous to Kevin Murphy's actual opinion of him. Were there any comments supplied by your Crow that have a similar offscreen connection?
When writing RiffTrax riffs for Manos, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, etc., do you and the rest of the crew make a conscious effort to avoid making the same jokes that were in the MST3K episodes? If so, have you ever come across an "original" riff that was so perfect/obvious you were tempted to put it in again anyway?
Jeez, LONG ESSAY QUESTIONS.
I think the first Q is awesome in a James Lipton-y way but may be too involved for me to answer without neglecting 25 other questions below.
So 2. I think when Crow is expressing confusion / amusement / rage at an incoherent movie plot, we're coming from the same place.
And 3. YES. Our writers Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason watch the MST3K episodes with our Rifftrax script in hand and flag any jokes that sound too similar. Of course we will have similar stuff, but when it just gets to be too close to the same line we feel obligated to come up with something different. Which sucks sometimes when the original joke is great for that moment!
So back in the MST3K days, what movie was the biggest pain to write for?
For me, toss-up between HAMLET (written by some stupid hack writer!) and THE NEPTUNE MEN. Oy, those repeated and incoherent shots.
They have. There was a very long MST3K article a few months back which addressed exactly this. Sometimes the audio was too bad to make any sense out of. Sometimes overuse of music made it impossible to riff over. Sometimes the movie was bad, but was so dialogue heavy, there was no space to riff in. Other times sex, etc. would make the movie not MST3K compliant.
Yes, a lot of times we realized we were fighting some impossibly bad technical aspect of the movie, knowing there were no other better prints in existence. Then we jettisoned the project rather than subject our audience to such terrible sound / picture / all of the above.
I'll chip in my Blu-Ray copy of Godfather Part III, too, if you need it. God knows I'm not watching it.
You're just worried that if you watch it, it will PULL YOU BACK IN.
Hey Bill! I've noticed in both your riffs and on Twitter that you've made a number of hip-hop references, some esoteric enough that only hip-hop fans would get. I know your web of references has a pretty huge range, but I was curious if you were much of a hip-hop fan and if you recall the first rap song you ever heard?
I'm a middle-aged white dude and i'm sure VERY behind on hip-hop culture and knowledge. But used to listen to it, mostly in the 90s, esp. when driving long distances for some reason? But really old, old stuff: Public Enemy, Beasties, Wu-Tang. First rap song I ever heard was probably THE first popular rap song, kinda-sorta, "The Message."
Our writers Conor and Sean are younger and hipper and their hip-hop references aren't quite so long in the tooth.
Thanks for working on MST3k and Rifftrax. It's made my life brighter :)
I'm going to get fist of fury soon, but which other films/shorts that you've done recently are ones you'd recommend?
I thought we had a really awesome run of VODs recently: Sword and the Sorcerer, R.O.T.O.R., Hawk the Slayer, Dinosaurus. Plus the 1940s Batman serial. Just loved all of 'em. Sometimes the movies we do feel more like too much work to write; these were mostly pure fun.
Have you ever seen any of Cr1tikal/penguinz0's stuff on YouTube? He finds insanely odd games and sometimes animation to comment on. His delivery is really monotonous and it works incredibly well, especially because the few times he loses it and laughs make it that much more appreciated.
Haven't seen Cr1tikal/penguinz0's stuff, but I think the test of whether something is good or funny or whatever is SO subjective that rules are close to meaningless. I don't tend toward a dry monotonous (<-- in the non-judge-y sense, just meaning spare with inflection) delivery myself but there are people who deploy that who can crack me up. Mike doesn't tend toward monotonous, but he is great at delivering dry-as-desert line readings that I find hilarious.
OMG! It's Bill! stay cool Hey there :-) My daughter just started watching Riffs with me and she says your voice is her favorite. She says it's nice and soothing. The only thing we want to know is when are you guys going to finish Harry Potter? We must have a resolution! Love you guys so much!
Thank you, KayTJay, this is the second time today my voice has been described as "soothing" and I am shocked, since I've always thought my voice could strip industrial paint from metal. Which might be a soothing thought to some.
Re Harry P, answered elsewhere on this page.
Thank you for the kind words!
Can you tell us if there's another Kickstarter for RiffTrax Live events planned for next year?
Probably not anytime soon. The Kickstarters were great in enabling to buy rights to some titles we wouldn't have gotten close to otherwise, but a) we don't want to keep coming to fans with hat in hand asking for $$$, and 2) a big Kickstarter is hard work!
It's possible we'll do more modest targeted crowdfunding experiments in the future, but nothing planned yet.
Hey Bill! Just one question but I'll probably have 30 tomorrow...
Has there ever been a riff or joke by the other guys that made you not be able to stop laughing?
I ask because y'all have provided countless such moments for myself over the years. Thanks for those!
Man, I just had one of those TODAY as we recorded the National Geographic special. It was a very simple, dumb joke but I had to stop and get the giggles out. Hard to describe without visual, but basically the narrator was referring to a man in his family on safari in Africa, as a bunch of giraffes went by. So it was like "John Smith and his wife Sue and their two children." ...and we had me saying matter-of-factly "They're giraffes."
Hunh. You had to be there.
Hi Bill! Huge fan of MST3K ever since flicking through late night TV as a child and seeing these random shadows talking back to a movie :)
What's your favourite name for Dave Ryder? Big McLargeHuge is mine.
Ha ha, for some reason BLAST HARDCHEESE has always led the pack for me
The conspicuous omission from MST3K's body of work is "Plan 9 from Outer Space," especially since it's been in the public domain forever. Is there any particular reason it was never riffed on the S.O.L?
Yeah, I'm not sure I have a good answer to that but do have a vague -- hopefully not totally untrue? -- memory that Joel and co. early on thought it might be too obvious a choice since it had been touted so often as the worst, or one of the worst flicks ever? I'm sure that is checkable somewhere on the so-called "Internet!"
Hi Bill. I want to say that I've been a fan of MST3K since it first appeared on Comedy Central lo those many years ago. While I absolutely adore Trace, I always found that your version of Crow T. Robot was more... I dunno... Crow-y? What I'm trying to say is I like yours better. There. I said it and I'm not ashamed. I have two super quick questions, if that's OK with you:
One of my favorite things about Rifftrax are when you guys make each other laugh during them. Since I imagine you guys write the Riffs together and rehearse them, how often does this actually happen?
How many fish can you name?
Thanks for doing this AMA and let Mike and Kevin know that some guy on the Internet said hi!
Thank you. I'm always grateful for kind words and compliments. Re me vs. Trace, it is EXTREMELY hard for me to think of my version of Crow being in his league. Not false modesty, but just... he was the Crow I knew, before working on the show. And he was so great both as Crow and Dr. F, and the duo of him and Frank was so classic... I was a big fan. So when I took over for him I defaulted to a not-very-great imitation of his Crow. Little by little I moved away from that and did it more in my own voice, rhythms, etc., and just hoped I was wrecking this legendary show.
I used to always watch MST3K with my dad. Did you have any idea that your show would be a bonding opportunity for dorky dads and their nerdy sons?
Yes, we've heard that a lot about families in general. I love that.
Yeah, Mike did a great job, but the silence that followed every line felt odd, as you say, and it just moved from line to line. When you guys are together it just feels so much warmer
I agree! Mike did it as well as it could be done, but it's just a bit odd comedy-wise.
Would you riff on episodes of TV shows not on Nat Geo like, say Doctor Who?
In the early days of RiffTrax we gave that a bit of a shot and they weren't too popular, at least partially due to the fact that these shows took some effort to get and we have to do them as MP3s. But sure, if we could get the rights to some Doctor Who, we'd give it a shot. We did do the two weird orphaned (non-canon!!) Peter Cushing -as- Doctor Who movies, for what it's worth!
I really have nothing to ask. I just want to say that RiffTrax is great, SPRC is great, MST3K was great, and please keep it going until I die.
But I guess if I have to ask something: have you ever seen GameCenter CX (aka Retro Game Master)? It feels very much like MST3K, except with old video games. You should check out a few episodes.
Thank you thank you thank you!
I have heard of GameCenterCX but haven't checked it out yet. Will do so, thanks!
Would you ever consider being a guest on a small time sports-movie podcast? I know just the one. We'd even let you pick the movie. what do you think?
Send me info at bill at rifftrax dot com!
Does your SUPER-POWERED REVENGE CHRISTMAS graphic novel contain any characters from my favorite Christmas special - The Curious Case of Santa Claus with Jon Pertwee and James Coco?
Haha! Not that I am aware of, since I have not seen it. Man, what a cast. Is it good? Either really good or bad-movie-fun good?
I saw a question about this on your RT ama a while back, about how you guys are slowing down on the MP3 commentaries because not enough people were buying them. It's a bummer because I basically don't watch most recent (mediocre) movies without riffing, but I like to be in-the-know, haha. We love your VOD's, too, but I want to see all the new movies get the treatment they deserve. Hunger Games, Batman V. Superman (not to mention the third Nolan Batman), etc. What can we do, as fans, to help with this (if anything)? What are the big hurdles you run into with mp3 commentaries, sales-wise?
P.S. - Probably one of our fav jokes of yours, both in content and delivery, is the one in Tourist Trap where you say, "A stiff rod used for some unwholesome purpose!" and then Mike and Kevin freak out. Love it.
These are superb questions and we're still stumped by some of them.
Heh heh, I loved that stiff rod joke. I almost adopted it.
Hey, Bill! Canadian checking in. Big fan of all your work on Rifftrax and MST3K!
One question I had that I wasn't able to find an answer to anywhere was what happened to the Canadian screenings of Rifftrax's Anaconda live show? Will future live shows be broadcast in Canada?
It was such a shame, my friends hopped on their dog sled to come up the 401 to visit me and we all skated down to the local projection igloo (or "cinema" as you'd say) but before we could begin to put the maple syrup on our popcorn we realized Anaconda wasn't playing. What's all that aboot? Sorry in advance.
I was so bummed to hear that it wasn't playing in Canada! Very disappointing. We are working on getting that back but ultimately it's up to our Canadian partners. If they're not game there's nothing we can do. If you tell them (nicely) that you miss it and want it back, that might help? I dunno.
Is there any chance we could see a live riff of The Room in the future?
We dearly want this to happen and are trying to make it happen, offering $$$$ and asking as politely and repeatedly as we can. Complicated though -- unless a certain writer / star of that movie is ok with it, it probably won't happen. Oh hai, disppointment.
When you were younger, before you got involved with MST3K, what did you see yourself doing with the rest of your life? For example, did you want to get into comedy, filmmaking, competitive eating, being an astronaut, etc? Also it makes my day every time you reply to me on twitter, thank you!
Re the last thing: thanks, very kind of you.
Well, when I was really young, like high school, I knew I loved to write and act and generally liked when I was being funny doing either. But I was also on sports and student govt. and kind of accepted with a sigh that I would probably have to go to law school or something.
But these things captured me in such a way over time that the disapproval of parents, worry about failure, etc. was drowned out a bit. I got really involved in writing, directing, acting in plays. Not all pure comedy, but always something comic in them. From there I aligned with a lot of people who were actually more into standup and improv, etc., and then starting meeting my future partners on MST3K / RiffTrax.
1) My thanks to you and the guys for years of laughter. I have the ~~"Mittens"~~ "Mitchell" movie poster over my couch.
2) Ginger or Mary Ann?
3) Bailey or Jennifer?
4) PLEASE make Cineplex Canada step in line and get back to showing the live shows.
You're welcome, Mary Ann, don't know, we're trying to get those lovable Canadians back on board!
Hey Bill! I've met you several times at DragonCon and I swear I'm not stalking you. DragonCon2013 Super Powered Revenge Christmas group photo!
You might remember me as the lone SPRC kickstarter backer in your DragonCon panel (I still can't believe that!)
I received my copy of Super Powered Revenge Christmas a few months a go and I really love how the book turned out graphically, how the story flows, the characters, and the overall humor is really fantastic!
Have you run into other kickstarter backers for SPRC irl? (Are there more of us?!)
What has the general reception been to SPRC from these backers?
Hi Ally! You are an O.G. of S.P.R.C. That was a fun afternoon.
Thanks for your kind comments on the book, I'm very happy with it! Reception has been awesome (whew!). Just starting to put it out into the world for real now, what with Christmas coming up. Thanks for being one of the people who made it possible. (And yes, I've met plenty other of you lovely peoples!)
Firstly, you and the whole crew of MST3K really introduced my love of bad movies. Now I heard in an interview that Mike did that you particularly don't like the bad movies. Without riffing, what would be the best movie on MST3K you've seen? I'm omitting Rifftrax because you've done some hit movies.
This is a pretty low bar indeed, but off the top of my head --
-- Space Travelers (a.k.a. Marooned)
-- Revenge of the Creature
-- I Was a Teenage Werewolf
(...in general, some of that 1950s Universal stuff)
Not good movies, but maybe a little more credibility than your average cheesefest on MST3K? I dunno.
Fries or Tater Tots?
Tots. (<-- Napoleon Dynamite voice)
What do you think about PBS stations that will soon be airing MST in syndication?
I saw the A/V Club article yesterday, that's the first I heard of it. Like I said, I have zero connection to the MST3K / Best Brains business. Their choice, not mine. But it keeps me pretty dang uninformed about stuff like this and I must plead ignorance. Who knows?
Hi Bill, a couple of days ago somebody posted on /r/MST3K about Netflix picking up the series. I'm pretty sure that won't happen, but I have my hopes.
However, the series finale lent the possibility of something like this really easy to transition into. Like having Mike, Servo and Crow living in an apartment together and watching B movies on (insert movie streaming service here).
I know you guys would have a huge following and have no doubts the show would be a great hit.
What would the chances of the gang getting back together for something like this?
I think we've touched on this in other Q & A's, maybe even here on Reddit, but -- as I see it, the chances of a revived MST3K that involves a critical mass of past cast members seems less and less likely. Or at least one that involves me.
It's not the happiest news, I know, and I wish I could report otherwise... but the behind-the-scenes attempts at reviving the show over the years have always crashed on similar issues. The fact is that very few of us own any part of MST3K -- and I don't own ANY part of it, make no royalties, haven't gotten paid for a show since I left the building in 1999. I accepted that as part of getting to write for and play in a cool show for many years, but the more MST3K keeps alive over the decades it's hard to live in that weird contradiction and avoid bitterness. Mostly I have avoided that, but when we get to those moments when someone in Best Brains is talking about reviving the show and then business comes up and it turns out that -- still -- nobody really wants to substantially share what they've got with the writers and actors -- then it seems unlikely.
I have no info on it, but do know that Joel has talked of reviving the show, maybe with a new cast. All my info is secondhand though.
All that said, I have immense respect for all the writers and actors who created and worked on that wonderful show. Every one of them is ingenious. It's the business part that feels contradictory to the spirit of MST3K at its best, and that essentially hasn't changed, since nobody's willing to change it.
Hey, Bill. I got to catch you at the live Riff Trax Sharknado screening. That was a blast, and I can heartily recommend that others attend the live events if they get a chance.
What are some of the challenges and rewards of riffing in a live enviroment like that? I have to imagine the dynamic is quite a bit different from the other Riff Trax recordings.
I'm glad you got to see us live there in the State Theater! Man, that was fun.
The rewards of doing those shows are enormous, personally. Much as I love hanging with the lads in the recording booth and making each other laugh, there's nothing like the energy of a live audience. It's such great fun.
There are challenges, like when a line gets a big unexpected laugh / reaction that sort of swamps the next few moments. But that's a pretty great problem to have. Worse is when a joke we really thought would be funny just kind of dies on the spot. Yeeesh! But there's even something objectively fun about that. And I love to ad lib onstage despite our pretty full runaway trains of jokes, so a clunker sometimes gives me that chance.
The other aspect that can be challenging is that there is a lot going on, technically, for those simulcast shows, and they are LIVE. Can be nervewracking when stuff goes wrong (e.g. sound for our preview of Godzilla during Sharknado just DID NOT COME ON and we were riffing those silent-as-a-tomb huge kaiju movie for a long time. Show biz!!!!
I know you hear this request a bazillion times, but, when can we witness you guys taking on 'Waterworld?'
Oh man. I think Mike would kill himself, or us. Probably us.
Hi Bill, I'm poking fun and yelling at the monitor as I told you I would.
Do you find it difficult to watch anything without having a running riff monologue in your head or are you able to deactivate and objectively enjoy it?
My S.O., whose so bummed to be working during this has a better question - what's your go-to station at Golden Corral?
I feel your fun-poking and yelling and now know what it feels like to be on the business end of a RiffTrax! And it feels GREAT.
1) No, I can and need to deactivate. Or the planet is in great danger.
2) At Golden Corral I always go for the bucket of parboiled pig parts. Mmmm, mmmm!
Huge fan here. I've been watching all of you guys for a very long time now. You responded to me on twitter once when I was drunk, that was pretty cool.
I heard of some people not having a great sense of humor about being mocked on MST3K (the cast of Time Chasers and Joe Don Baker come to mind) have you had any fallout from people in Rifftrax films?
A second question: how often do you guys try out a film just to find that it's so terrible it didn't leave you with enough to work with?
Ha, I think the Time Chasers thing might have been amplified over time. We just heard like, fifth-hand that the people who were in that movie (since it had only been filmed a few years before) gathered to watch MST3k Time Chasers and by the end, when Servo is yelling and denouncing the "citizens and officials of Rutland, Vermont" they were a little rocked back on their heels. But I don't remember who reported that OR if has much truth behind it.
No fallout from people in RiffTrax films so far, just people who have been kind of nice about it (e.g. Greg Sestero from The Room a.k.a. "Mark" has been totally cool, really supportive of the RiffTrax etc.).
Hey Bill, thanks for doing another AMA. I wonder if you are now, or have ever been, a fan of Uncle Floyd? I thought that I might have caught a few references over the years.
Yes, he was on the air in NYC when I was a kid! I didn't quite understand it all, being young and dumb, but really enjoyed it when I tuned it. Be interesting to watch those shows today and see what I was missing.
Do you ever have trouble "turning it off" when you're say, at a movie theater with friends or family? Or are you constantly riffing in your head?
I don't have too much trouble turning it off, though my wife might disagree. She once asked me to stop riffing breakfast.
But for the most part, I actually like to quietly enjoy movies when I'm not doin' my day job. I'm a fuddy-duddy.