Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11

Today's birthday boy is Michael J Nelson, one of the most successful professional hecklers in history. Nelson was head writer on the TV cult comedy "Mystery Science Theater 3000," as well as portraying 'Mike Nelson,' a janitorial temp shot into space by mad scientists, forced to watch bad movies with only two talking robots to
join him in taunting the movies. The show was critically acclaimed, but movie rights became exceedingly expensive with success.
After the show's cancellation, Nelson and friends found new ways to get paid for talking during a movie. The TV series "The Film Crew" was a more mundane setup for the same practice of three voices heckling an old bad movie. "Rifftrax", meanwhile, were MP3 Commentary tracks to be purchased independently of whichever movie it was recorded for. This allowed heckling of the newest, biggest, baddest movies around:

The success of Rifftrax is one sign that MST3K ended before its time. Several other former castmembers also participate in a current project called "Cinematic Titanic," which is like MST3K, but kind of R-rated...

I can't embed it, but YouTube has all four episodes of "The Film Crew" online, which is one step removed from MST3K. Let me recommend "Giant of Marathon" as a good introduction for what makes Mike Nelson so funny...

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