Well folks, last night I had the opportunity to go the 7PM showing of Rifftrax Live’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, and let me tell you, I was in quite a bit of pain from laughing so much!
I’ve never been to a live riffing event so, naturally, I was very excited to see how this was all going to work out. First person I saw walking into the theater was Rifftrax writer Conor Lastowka, wearing the Jar Jar Binks shirt that he promised he would wear, on the Rifftrax Blog. I complimented him on his choice of shirt and he was quite startled by it. Had no one told him how stunning he looked in the shirt that portrayed the most beloved Star Wars character of all time? Such a shame. You deserve better Conor. :-)
The Balboa Theater is absolutely gorgeous. The theater itself didn’t seem to be very large, but it made for a more intimate space (granted, I was sitting in the fifth row… You’ll have to ask the balcony-goers what it was like for them), and there were lots of beautiful artistic details on the edges of the stage. On both sides of the stage, there were these lovely dioramas of a mountain view in the walls, with a waterfall with actual water going down it! However, we were warned by Kevin not to go chasing them. I was tempted to take pictures, but upon entering I could see that the theater management was already freaking out about all the cameras the fans had, and I didn’t want to do anything that might get me kicked out. But believe me, it was a beautiful backdrop for such a fun event. (More after the cut!)
Before the show started, the movie screen played slides with bits of fun trivia and humorous remarks (a favorite was how the Ticketmaster people are sitting on piles of money and feeding off of our tears), so the crowd laughed and chatted while we waited for the show to start.
Once the lights dimmed, the lovely Bridget Nelson came out to welcome everyone, and then started throwing T-shirts at us. I think a few people lost teeth, but they smiled their toothless smiles and happily accepted the shirts anyway. One person dressed up as The Master actually won a $50 gift card to the Hard Rock Cafe just for dressing up. So yeah, note to MSTies for future events – dress up like a freak and Bridget will give you free food!
Then, the show really started. Mike, Kevin and Bill came out ready to go, and seemed just as excited to be there as we were. The riffs came flying right out of the gate, and the entire audience was so psyched to be there that it made for a really fun environment. I’ve never really had the opportunity to watch MST3K with a bunch of MSTies, but there’s something really cool about being in a room full of people ready to laugh their asses off, and the Riffers really delivered.
One of the best gags was hearing the Riffers’ startled cries every time one of the detectives would fling his gun around carelessly. It actually became upsetting for the audience to see this man scratch his head with the gun, casually whip it in the direction of other people, and just generally seem to ignore the fact that he had to make his gun-wielding believable. If you took a drink every time the guy did something stupid with his prop, chances are you’d be drunk by the time the show was over! There were a lot of jokes about how massive Tor Johnson was (and how he probably hurt his mother coming out *shudder*), and we were treated to a wonderful impression by Mike of the ever famous “Time for to go to bed” at one point. And of course, no Rifftrax commentary would be complete without plenty of dead Bela Lugosi jokes (the guys counted three separate Lugosis), effeminate alien leaders that “made Richard Simmons look butch”, and desperate attempts to understand the convoluted plot and stupid dialog.
This was the first time I had ever watched the riffed version of Plan 9, and while I’ve been slowly trying to collect all of the Rifftrax episodes, Plan 9 was toward the bottom of my list. It was partially because of the fact that the cast of MST3K thought about doing it quite a few times, but never felt that it would work. So, I had my doubts that it could really be funny. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My sides hurt, my smile may be permanently plastered to my face, and my credit card is itching to buy the commentary track!
Considering we Rifftrax fans only ever get to hear the Riffers on our MP3 players or on reauthored DVD’s, it was really cool to be able to see them actually perform their riffs. No sitting there like logs and reading off lines for these guys — they interacted with each other wonderfully and even interacted with the screen a bit. With Mike sitting in between Kevin and Bill, it really felt like a little bit of MST3K was coming back to us. Seriously, watching Mike, Kevin and Bill work is absolute magic. If you ever have an opportunity to see a live riffing of anything, do it. But be sure to have your will written out first though, as death-by-laughter is a very real possibility!