The World O' Crap Archive

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

It’ll Be Just Like MST3K, But With More Paranoia And Matchbook Covers

Mystery Science Theater 3000 was, at it’s best, pee-your-pants funny. This will be just like that, except it will be the hosts piddling themselves because they glimpsed a woman in a hijab browsing the household cleanser aisle at Target. From Lileks:
Cat’s in the bag, bag’s in the river. I will be doing a super-secret project with Mike Nelson of MST3K fame in a while, and the details have been nailed.
Comedy, meet coffin. Coffin, meet nails.
Posted by scott on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 at 11:55 am.

32 Responses to “It’ll Be Just Like MST3K, But With More Paranoia And Matchbook Covers”

Mystery Science Theater 3000 was, at it’s best, pee-your-pants funny
and then Joel left.
Apparently the Bleat guy did something to make everyone on this side of the dial angry with him; Leonard Pierce has The Bleat in the same category as Clown Hall, and now scott says “Comedy, meet coffin. Coffin, meet nails”.
OK, I read some of his blog, and he is a bit of a babbler, giving TMI . . . but his comic book commentary is funny, if you like that sort of thing . . .
Monkay: Lileks is funny only when he’s taking on incredibly easy targets. I found him amusing for a while, but I tried an experiment — I used a browser plugin to remove all the words from the page and simply looked at the images he was mocking. There was no substantial difference in entertainment. His commentary is the written equivalent of a laugh track — its only purpose is to give you an excuse to laugh louder at something that’s already funny.
julia: I’m a Joel partisan myself, but the Mike years were far from unfunny. The main issue I have with them is a certain slickness of production and economizing of jokes (epitomized by the MST3K motion picture) that I just never found as endearing as the Joel “just-hanging-out” atmosphere. (I won’t even get into the host segments.)
And although I don’t personally feel that one should make ideological demands on comedy, I eventually started noticing that a lot more of Mike’s jokes made sense when considered as coming from a man whose main problem with Hollyweird is that they’re all a bunch of queers and commies. That made things a lot less funny.
He already did his part for MST3K, he appeared in the movie lampooned in the cinematic release (This Island Earth): fiveheadular evidence here.
I know it’s hip to dig Joel, but I was relieved to have Mike come on board. Joel was fine during the movies, but in the sketches he constantly flubbed his lines and, no matter what the situation, his delivery always conveyed a sense of baked-out-of-his-gourd boredom. (The Lemur Puppet Sketch from “King Dinosaur,” for example, should have been brilliant; instead it’s just painful as Joel throws away the pacing and, completely lost, starts repeating himself. And that was the BEST take.) Joel’s much better off in sketch-free Cinematic Titanic.
Mike will never win an acting award, but he was more likable and twenty times more professional–and this allows me to focus on Teh Funnay instead of Teh Painful. It’s the difference between Kevin Nealon and Jon Stewart.
I liked both hosts, but wasn’t Mike the main writer of the show, even when Joel was hosting? So most of Joel’s laughs were due to Mike anyway?
See, can’t get next to the Mike. Just can’t.
Joel had that Steven Wright/Steve from Blues Clues kind of affable dopiness that made the whole thing work for me. Mike seemed to be winking at the camera all the time.
I felt as if it didn’t show any discipline. They were supposed to be above the movies they were seeing, not the show itself.
At that, the original cast appears to have all ended up working on Joel’s current project, while their replacements are working with Mike (and, presumably, Our Friend From Minnesota)
I don’t hate the Mike episodes, but I don’t think they compare at all to the Joels.
Nelson is a conservative, according to an interview I read with him a while ago.
Not that that makes MST3K any less funny.
My favorite MST3K episodes were during the Mike era (althoughthe wild wild world of bat woman will always hold a place in my heart. The two are Space “My God she’s presenting like a mandrill” Mutiny and Horror at Party Beach.
I like Mike, and I wish I didn’t know about his politics. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Joel episodes tend to feel like you need to be high to enjoy them, and I don’t have any smokes.
I liked both hosts, but wasn’t Mike the main writer of the show.
MST3K was very much “gangbanged” (as the jargon has it) or “room written,” so there was no main writer. Mike was the Head Writer, which according to Joel meant that “he held the remote.” If someone pitched a joke and Mike thought it was funny, he’d pause the movie so the typist could transcribe it.
The host segments, on the other hand, were written by individuals or smaller teams, and I favor the quieter, goofier, more personable ones typical of the years when Joel, Frank, and Trace were still on the show. In later years, especially during the Sci-Fi Channel era, the entre’acts became increasingly perfunctory, obvious, and mean-spirited, and I tend to fast-forward through them.
Professionally, I think Mike is a very funny writer, and he was fine as host, although I preferred Joel. Personally, Mike is a tool who reads the Weekly Standard and listens faithfully to Hugh Hewitt — so basically, he takes seriously everything I consider most deserving of mockery. But his Rifftrax and Film Crew offerings are still amusing, so he’s at least a tool with a certain utility — a Leatherman, say, or an interchangle-head screwdriver. Lileks is also a tool, but he’s more like that one lonely allen wrench in the bottom of the junk drawer that came with your Ikea bookshelf and doesn’t seem to fit anything else in the world. I enjoyed The Gallery of Regrettable Food, but I don’t care which floor wax he thinks is superior, and I don’t agree that just because his father was in World War II we need to stay in Iraq so the Islamofascist Luftwaffe doesn’t turn the Mall of America into Guernica.
I actually like the humour from both these guys – I didn’t bother with their politics for more than about a month.
But then, what do I know? I own books by P.J. O’Rourke.
You know about as much as I do — I’ve got books by both Mike and Lileks.
Always preferred Joel – I even thought he was kinda cute – but liked the Mike episodes too. I wish I didn’t know about his politics.
I think Mark Helprin is a fine writer. That’s the only right wing author I admire, but we all have our little, um, peculiarities.
Ho boy! Lileks makes a cat-killing joke right outta the box! Hi-larious! What a card!
I loved the guy up till 9/10/2001, then he became one of those crazy people. Anybody else remember that Christmas-time ’02 column he wrote just before the Iraq Invasion, in which he joked about how depleted uranium from the first Gulf War was causing Iraqi babies to be born without brains? Lileks said that “then that must be where all these Hollywood liberals who oppose the war were born!” HO HO HO! Birth defects are hi-larious when they happen to people we’re told aren’t really human!
If he’d been born ten years earlier, he’d be writing “Hey, Thalidomide babies! Maybe you can get a guest shot on Flipper!HO HO HO!”
That was when I stopped reading him. He’s not funny, he’s an asshole.
Thanks for explaining about L, I was curious about wtf that was about and now I know.
P.J. O’Rourke, there’s a piece of work. “Holidays in Hell”, so worth reading; “CEO of the Couch” (or whatever that was called), godawful. Truly bilge. Reminds me of those people who act very differently depending who’s around, like someone who is nice to their kid brother, until their cool friends show up.
Wait, I’m supposed to decide if a humorist is funny based on his completely-unrelated personal politics? Must’ve missed THAT memo. Jeez, see what happens when you aren’t assimilated by the hivemind?
Who said you’re “supposed to,” Happenstance?
People voice their opinions, and you feel pressure to capitulate? Don’t be so insecure.
Wait, I’m supposed to decide if a humorist is funny based on his completely-unrelated personal politics?
I wouldn’t say that (at least in this case…now Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller, that’s a bit harder to parse, since the hateful politics is the act). I find it easy to ignore Mike’s political views and still enjoy his MST episodes, his books, and his subsequent DVD and internet projects. (Kevin Murphy, Mike’s partner in Rifftrax and the Film Crew, is an unabashed liberal, so maybe they cancel each other out, or they’ve just agreed to keep the political content to a minimum in the interest of on-set comity.)
I’ve also bought Lileks’ books, and might purchase others in the future depending on the subject, but what I can’t read any longer is his blog, the Bleat, because his ideology (which, as Mr. the Splut mentioned above, has pretty much calcified into Freedom From Empathy masquerading as baroque mockery) can leap out from behind an innocuous anecdote at any time and throw open its raincoat.
The Joel era of MST3K was like indie rock –
The Mike era was like major label.
Both were funny in their own way, but the former is far more precious and intimate.
I prefer the former in the same way I prefer earlier Guided By Voices or Sonic Youth – more personal, more edgy, and therefore more meaningful.
Well, I thought I said this yesterday, but Lileks’ material is no funnier than it should be, and since I’m five years older I can attest that by the time he turned up, the “Look, humorously anachronistic kitchen design!” bit had already died of old age, despite being cared for by people who did it much better.
To me the problem is his borrowing on the other side of the equation: he adopted the “I’m a slightly goofy Everyman, which makes my tiniest notion a lot more sensible than those eggheads who thought up the metric system” newspaper columnist tone that others had already stolen and done better, and he applied it to material that requires a certain amount of real, not mock, self-deprecation. Your own kitchen is going to look like it’s wearing sleeve garters and a handlebar mustache before long.
Kitsch is funny because of the uncritical acceptance of bad or indifferent commercial “aesthetic”. It’s really not possible to make fun of shag carpeting or June Cleaver’s green bean casserole and simultaneously celebrate the Clorox Rotating Toilet Wand, on sale this week at You Know Where.
People voice their opinions, and you feel pressure to capitulate? Don’t be so insecure.
Don’t be such a smarmy smartass; not as cute or clever as you might think.
My last post was a snark at Djur’s “I couldn’t figure out why I hated Mike, until I realized he was a Nazi–not that I, you know, consider politics” bit.
Bill the Splut: You were always better at making fun of bizarre and cheesy shit than Lileks, anyway.
Happenstance: Did I say I hated Mike? I didn’t before I knew about his politics, and I don’t now. It’s like this: if a comedian had a funny routine about his girlfriend’s irrational behavior, that routine would become far less amusing if it came out that the comedian was a domestic abuser. A Jewish comic can get away with using stereotypes that a non-Jewish comic would never be able to. As noble as the concept of comedy as an art form completely divorced from personality is, it’s not realistic. It’s apparent to me that Mike has a genuine animus against the movie industry on the basis of them being a bunch of Christian-hating fag-lovers — and that makes a number of his jokes less comfortable to listen to.
And yet, I do still watch Mike-era MST3K, and I have enjoyed RiffTrax. He’s an extremely talented entertainer. His politics have interfered with my ability to enjoy his very good work, rather than providing me an opportunity to categorically dismiss his work.
jlo nailed it. Indie music vs. record label band. Both have a place, but in the end indie is sweeter.
As for the SciFi year host bits, oh, are they painful as they pointlessly plod on and on.
Okay. Next time I’ll remember to be snarky, not smart-assed.
Subtle distinction only found by happenstance.
Wow, the intolerance on display here is breath-taking, especially since Lileks lands near the center, shading just slightly right, on most issues and is hardly a fire-breather.
To quote him, if Democrats win in November, “…I do look forward to dissenting; since it’s been established as the highest form of patriotism, I expect my arguments will be met with grave respect. Shhhh! He’s dissenting.”
Wow, the intolerance on display here is breath-taking, especially since Lileks lands near the center, shading just slightly right, on most issues and is hardly a fire-breather.
Intolerance? Excuse me? We have to like his Bleat Blog or we are accused of being “intolerant”? Who knew?
To quote him, if Democrats win in November, “…I do look forward to dissenting; since it’s been established as the highest form of patriotism, I expect my arguments will be met with grave respect. Shhhh! He’s dissenting.”
Oh jeez. Is that a real quote from him? Boy he isn’t bitter at all, is he?
Accusations of intolerance? On behalf of James “Fuck you, Salam Pax” Lileks? Really?
Here’s the thing. People object to invading Iraq. People on Lileks’ side, who are in favor of invading Iraq, call the first group unpatriotic. A counterargument is made that dissent is in fact a hallmark of American patriotism, dating back to the founding fathers. His side wins, we invade Iraq and settle into our quagmire, and 5 years later Lileks continues to mock the patriotism of those who oppose the war (now roughly 2/3rds of his fellow citizens).
Now this “centrist, shading just slightly right,” is saying that if the Republicans lose in November, he’s not going to graciously accept the will of the electorate, he’s going to throw his opponents’ argument back in their face.
So my question is…in selecting a quote from the millions of words Lileks has churned out in his columns and Bleats and Screeds…were you trying to make him look like an asshole?
Bill The Splut –
Lileks was stealing a line from the film Sweet Smell of Success. Which has been done waaay too often by now and isn’t amusing anymore.
They’re doing a Rifftrax, right?
The question would be, what movie would they do? Is there a new release that falls into Lileks’ bailiwick?
I would like to take this opportunity to say that I do, and always have, adored Kevin Murphy. He’s amazingly funny and pretty sexy. Love his Chicago accent. In the MST book, his coworkers riffed a lot on his supposed personae, everything from “big dumb mountain man” to “big sadistic plutocrat,” and I found it all quite amusing. I love Tom Servo, too.
Yes, it does make a difference to me to know someone’s politics. Sorry, but we all form opinions about people based on their demonstrated beliefs. I read a LOT of Lileks’ Bleat columns before I gave up in disgust at his blossoming nuttery, so I know what I’m talking about. But I also bought his Regrettable Food book and probably read through his entire website at least once, and he can be a very funny guy. However, I don’t care to support him in his comedy ventures any longer. The comedy and the politics come from the same mind, and I plan to give it a wide berth in future. I’m not just a “consumer,” I’m someone who has an opinion about where the material I read, watch, and buy comes from. No, I don’t demand ideological purity, but my believing that someone is an ass (IMO) makes them that much less likely to make me laugh or enjoy their work. Admit it: Wasn’t it hard to envision Hugh Grant as a charming shy Englishman after his prostitute-BJ incident made the news?
In Lileks’ case, the politics matter because he is a pundit (of sorts) – and one who gets approvingly quoted on Free Republic and LFG, no less.
Lileks lands near the center, shading just slightly right, on most issues
The only way Lileks can be seen as centrist is if you accept the right-wing level of discourse that is prevalent in the US these days. On any kind of reasonable and international scale, he’s far right. Just because he’s for gay marriage and adoption (with plenty of caveats, though), doesn’t make him a liberal. Hint: most other Western right-wingers are not virulently anti-gay. That’s primarily a US phenomenon, even if it is mirrored elsewhere where parties are religiously motivated.

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