In June 2016, the folks from Rifftrax finally granted longtime fans the privilege of watching an MST3K reunion. It was pulled off successfully and brought literally everyone who has ever been on the series to riff on some classic and awful educational short films. Not just that, but the crew also had the foresight to bring on Jonah Ray the new human host for the upcoming “MST3K” reboot to throw in some of his own riffs, and warm the audience up to his impending tenure on the Satellite of Love. I’m a big fan of Ray’s, and he has the same affable personality, and humble charm that Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson had that won fans over. I’m excited to see how he handles the antics on the new show. For fans that missed the live show, the performance is now available for purchase at Rifftrax, and I gladly paid to watch the two and a half hour performance by the entire cast, in person in front of a welcome audience.
The educational shorts are the easiest format for a show like this as the normal shorts run for twenty minutes, are very fun to riff on, and allow the trio of hosts to pass the baton over to their guests allowing for variety. If there’s one flaw it’s that ten minutes of the run time is devoted to the trio of hosts advertising other Rifftrax including “Transformers” and “Manos The Hands of Fate” but that’s admittedly a nitpick. Hey, “Rifftrax” has a large audience at their feet, might as well advertise the diverse library, right? In either case, the gang dives in to some really goofy educational films including “The Talking Car” about a sentient car that visits a boy in his dreams to teach him about car safety. “A Word to the Wives” (Starring a young Darren McGavin) is tackled by Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson (Mike Nelson’s wife), both of whom have a ball mocking the outdated ideas of gender roles, and women being obsessed with kitchen tools, and fashion. “More Dates for Kay” is a hilarious instructional about young girls learning how to hook their dream boy for dates.
“Shake Hands with Danger,” the weakest of the segments, is a PSA about industrial equipment and being safe on the work site. “Barbers and Beauticians” is a literal passing of the torch as Joel Hodgson riffs alongside new host Jonah Ray. Co-riffer Ray looks admittedly nervous during his time on stage and struggled a bit to keep up with Joel, but he’s hilarious nonetheless and is bound to grab a ton of laughs during the upcoming series. I have a ton of faith Jonah Ray will deliver. Finally, as a big treat, the entire cast step on stage for a “Riff-a-Palooza” to lampoon “Stamp Day for Superman,” and go out with a bang giving the audience one last laugh with the surreal arts and crafts short “At Your Fingertips: Grasses.” It’s easily the funniest segment of the night and the audience didn’t want the show to end. Honestly, I didn’t either. “MST3K Reunion” seemed to function as a last goodbye for the classic team of the series, and obviously worked toward showing off new team member Jonah Ray.
Ray has an amazing rapport with the entire group and seems right at home. Watching Hodgson share a stage with Ray for a one on one riffing session was moving in its own way. It’s excellent to see these people from such a simple yet groundbreaking and masterful show be welcomed by waves of fans and applause. They’ve devoted years to combining their love for entertaining, movies, and comedy, and the show simply doesn’t disappoint.
The performance is now available for digital purchase at the Official Rifftrax Website.