Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back! Less than a week ago Netflix premiered the series with fourteen new episodes. The titles of the films were kept closely under wraps, so it was quite a surprise when Austin, Texas comedy troupe Master Pancake Theater announced that they had co-written episode #9, Yongary, Monster from the Deep. We sat down with one of the founders of Master Pancake, John Erler, to talk about what it was like writing for MST3K.
How did Master Pancake get involved with the writing process for the new MST3K?
John: Mary Jo Pehl, one of the original cast members of MST3K, lived in Austin and used to do some shows with us. Through her, we meet Joel Hodgson, creator of MST3K. In 2013 Joel did a show with us (Zardoz) and was hatching the idea for the new show. He liked what we were doing and asked us to help write an episode.
I didn’t realize that the thought process for the new show went back that far.
John: The irony is our first encounter with MST3K wasn’t necessarily a friendly one. [Originally Erler’s troupe was called Mister Sinus Theater 3000. After they received a cease and desist letter from MST3K’s they changed their name.] Honestly, it was a good idea to change the name to avoid any confusion.
Would you consider writing a MST3K episode a dream come true?
John: It is! It’s a bucket list dream. We wrote it a year ago and I kind of forgot about the whole thing and what jokes I’d written. So, it’s pretty fun to watch the complete show with everyone’s jokes and a few of mine. The whole thing I thought came together really well.
What was the writing process like?
John: They gave us this advanced software where you could put your jokes on specific time codes on the movie. So, it was us three in Austin and the other writers around the country working together. We had a couple of phone meetings with Joel and the head writer. It took us two weeks of writing to crank out as many jokes we could think of.
Did you have any say in which movie to do?
John: No, they told us what movie we would do. I hadn’t heard of Yongary, but I love it now.
Any research into Kaiju movies beforehand?
John: (Laughs) No, that probably would have been a good idea.
Do you have a favorite classic MST3K episode?
I like the famous classics like Manos: The Hands of Fate, Mitchell, and Cave Dwellers.
Well, the feedback from the fans seems to be very positive so far. If that’s any indication of possible future seasons.
John: Yeah, I have no idea how that process works, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a new season after this one. It seems to be well received.