RiffTrax Live! MST3K
Reunion – State Theater
Minneapolis, MN 6/28/2016
Having just completed an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign in December 2015 to support a revival of MST3K fans were more than happy to jump on board the next RiffTrax Kickstarter campaign to fund their 2016 live events. Fans were even more excited to learn that one of those shows would feature a reunion of most of the cast of MST3K (Joel, Mike, Kevin, Bill, Trace, Mary Jo and Bridget) plus the heir apparent host Jonah Ray. With the opportunity to see all of these wonderful people performing together it wasn’t a hard decision for me to buy a ticket and start planning a trip to Minneapolis. I didn’t know when I purchased by ticket that it would actually be quite challenging to actually be able to make it to the show. Luckily I was able to work through the obstacles and got to see a fantastic show and was able to meet and spend some fantastic time with many MSTies.
What follows is a write up of the event starting with my busy, but fun, week before leaving for Minnesota. Since I did not purchase the VIP package I was not able to attend some fun events, but luckily some of the great group of new friends I made on this trip were at those and shared their pictures and experiences with us. I’ve included some of that below to help show all of the fabulous events that took place.
I hope you’ll forgive me for adding a few non-MST items in this write up, but in the days before leaving for Minneapolis I was keeping busy and having a lot of fun. First my family went to the Detroit Zoo (actually located in my home town of Royal Oak, MI and visited the brand new Polk Penguin Conservation Center. This amazing facility allows you to view them in colonies, from under water and in one area within inches of them with only a pane of glass between you and them. They seem to enjoy watching us as much as we did them. On 6/23 I saw Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at the Fox Theater in Detroit with my sister Anne. I’ve been a Beatles fan my whole life, I had seen Paul McCartney back in 1990, but this was my first Ringo concert. I can’t believe how energetic he was just two weeks before is 76th birthday. I love baseball and was able to attend the game between the Tigers and the Indians on 6/25 (the day before I left on my trip). It was fun hanging out with my sister, my nephew Rick and his wife Melissa and their daughter Caitlyn even though the Tigers got stomped. OK. Enough back story. The next morning after the ball game I left for Minneapolis. I decided to drive even though I hadn’t really made a plan to stop at any sites along the way like I usually do, but the anticipation of the show and getting to meet a bunch of new MSTie comrades made the drive exciting. Well, as it turned out “exciting” probably wasn’t the best description. There was construction every where with long back ups. After finally making it around Chicago there were also multiple accidents. I think whenever the orange barrels disappeared the other drivers all floored their accelerators to make up time. The drive turned out to be dangerous and exhausting. Finally, I reached the Dells region of Wisconsin and decided to find a hotel for the night. I know in that area they tell you to “Ride the Ducks,” but this was the only duck I saw and it wasn’t really what I would call rideable. While I was considering ducks some MSTies had already arrived in Minneapolis. Sunday evening the met up for dinner at the Nicollet Diner. Here we see Pam Brisjar (one of our VIP insiders), Brian Henry (erhardt from The Satellite News), Greg Tally (of MST3K Revival League Podcast fame), Rob Hinkle (from North Carolina) and Stacie and Caleb Straub (who’s camera supplied some great pictures from the events over the next few days). I had about four hours of driving left the next morning to get to Minneapolis. As I drove through the Black River Valley I stopped to stretch my legs and saw this historic marker. I neglected to take a picture of the other side, but it discussed the use of pigeons for sending messages tied to their leg. I didn’t know that this was how FedEx began and their original, although unsuccessful, motto was “When it absolutely, positively has to be there EVER…you may want to consider a more reliable delivery system than a freakin’ bird.” I drove directly to the Holiday Inn Express – Downtown, my home for the next couple days. My stay was very comfortable, but I couldn’t help but noticed I had the smallest room I had ever stayed in (the pictures below shows the extent of the room). After dropping off my luggage in my room I started trying to locate any MSTies that knew where the next meet up was. Joe Martin replied that he and his girlfriend Sam Miller were staying at the same hotel and were about to head to the Blue Sun Soda Shop where the gang was gathering. I met Joe and Sam downstairs and we were on our way. We got there a bit late to see Ryan Smith, James Rohling and Greg Tally, all from the MST3K Revival League Podcast actually tasting anything, but we did get to meet them and some of the other MSTies who had shown up. Along with Joe and Sam here is Brian Henry, who I had met back in 2008 at the MST 20th Anniversary gathering at San Diego Comic Con. From there most of us went to the Surley Brewing Co. for a place to sit down, have some refreshments and begin to get to know each other a little. Going around the table (left to right) are Sam, Joe, (native Minnesotan) Robby Virnig, Caleb, Stacie, Michael Albright (from the Chicago movie riffing group Down In Front), Cindy Marquis (another Chicagoan and Mike’s girlfriend), Morgan Stephens the son of, Philip Stephens (originally from Australia), Yusef Naqvi (yet another Chi-Towner and writer for Down In Front), Pam, Kathryn Ryce (creator of a cool retro-Victorian looking Gypsy costume for the cosplay competition) and myself. I had a really good soft pretzel with horseradish sauce here. After we left Burly some of the group headed off to the VIP meet and greet at the Keiran Irish Pub. The entire MST cast including the newbie Jonah Ray were on hand for a photo op, autographs and some casual chatting with some of their fans with deep pockets.
Meanwhile, Joe, Sam and I went to Brit’s Pub for dinner and to watch league lawn bowling (really). Eventually more of the group showed up and once the meet and greet was done those MSTies joined us as well. The new folks in this picture are all at the far end of the table and a bit hard to see, but they include Ron McAdams (who was a pleasure to finally meet after chatting on line for many years), Douglas Prostorog, Debbie Holzhauer and Rob Baiter. This photo was taken by the initially camera shy Katy Pika who escaped under the table rather than be captured on film (at least this evening). On the way back to the hotel we wandered past the State Theater to see the marquee all made up for the next day’s event. Most of us ended up back in Pam’s room chatting and drinking Ecto Coolers (thanks to Joe) until the wee hours of the morning. The day of the show started with a field trip to the old Best Brains Studio in Eden Prairie. It’s not just an empty building, but it still brought back some fond memories of the two times I visited there while the show was still in production.