Film and TV

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Brings the Laughs to Denver

Mystery Science Theater 3000's live tour stops at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, July 18.
Mystery Science Theater 3000's live tour stops at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, July 18. Courtesy of Right On! PR

Earlier this year, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the popular movie-riffing television series that started nearly three decades ago, was revived on Netflix, thanks in part to $6 million that was raised on Kickstarter in 2015. But creator Joel Hodgson, who has long considered rebooting it as a live show, finally did. And he's bringing it to Denver on Tuesday, July 18.

“I’ve been kind of thinking about it for many years and wondering about that,” Hodgson says. “The new show is kind of designed so it translates really easily to a live show. It’s kind of built in, and so we have kind of known for a long time we were going to do this. It’s the order we were unclear about when we started with it: a live show and then do a TV show or streaming show like on Netflix? Or would we have done it the other way, and it just worked out the other way?”

The first-ever live touring production of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will stop at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, July 18. It will star Hodgson, new host Jonah Ray (who goes by "Jonah Heston” on the show), and the robots who will be screening, along with the audience, the 1962 horror film Eegah (hailed by some as the worst film ever made) with new riffs and sketches.

“What we’re doing is re-riffing Eegah with all new riffs and all new host segments and sketches and invention exchanges and stuff,” Hodgson says. “So what they’re going to see is Mystery Science Theater on stage. It’ll be Jonah and the bots. Then, obviously, Jonah and the guys doing the bots — Hampton Yount and Tim Ryder — are really good improvisers. So there’ll be a lot of room for that in the body of the show. It’s probably never really the same show twice, from what I know about those guys.”

Hodgson says one of the biggest challenges of bringing Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the stage was trying to figure out an elegant way to re-create the world of the television show.

“How do you show the Satellite of Love, and how do you show Moon 13, the doorway sequence, and the theater?” Hodgson says. “How do you do all that on stage so people feel like they’re getting that experience? That was kind of the biggest thing, but I’m happy to report that we kind of figured it out. We think we have a way of doing that and showing that to the audience.”

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon