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After holding a social-distancing special earlier this year, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson and former MST3K cast members Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot #2) and J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo #1) stopped by for a nostalgia-filled, movie-roasting good time at today's Comic-Con@Home panel. However, the panel had a different primary goal in mind: raising money for a good cause. And, thanks to the loyal army of MST3K fans (and a gung-ho post on the official MST3K page), they nearly met their goal even before the fundraiser's officially planned announcement.
The fundraiser, meant to solicit donations for the Minneapolis-based Native American youth organization MIGIZI (which saw its main facility burned during the anti-racism protests earlier this summer), totaled $17,811 at the time of the panel's posting ... because of course even the laws of physics couldn't stop diehard MST3Kers. That means that it met one of its goals — reaching $10,000 gets Hodgson, Corbett, and Weinstein to team up for an “A Busy Day at the County Fair” short film roast — while almost reaching another, $20K, which will earn another full short riff from the trio.
"Minneapolis is the place where it all started," Hodgson said, "and it's going to be the place where everything gets renewed as well."
Donors will get early access to the shorts, which will eventually live on the show's website.
You can watch the full panel, which also features plenty of MST3K history, below:
Within, the trio discussed plenty of inside spaceball insight into the group's comedy — Weinstein likened the movies themselves to the straight man in a comedy routine, while Corbett drew comparisons to the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont — while also offering up a Twin City history lesson to the MST3K uninitiated.
From its humble origins to its riff-happy heyday, MST3K developed its cult status at the tail end of the '80s stand-up boom, and became a success over the next decade. Weinstein talked about the development of Tom Servo's voice, which started as either an R2-D2 bunch of boops and beeps or a "pinched Pee-wee Herman," and became a lower-voiced radio-esque role. Hodgson explained that he also had to develop his role — but only because he was more comfortable as a writer/creator than as a performer. Corbett commented on his initial imitation of original Crow performer Trace Beaulieu, which eventually gravitated toward his natural vocal register: "He became a little bit more like Bugs Bunny as a model."
The legendary franchise, which recently saw a two-season revival at Netflix that ran under the helm of host Jonah Ray, has seen infrequent updates from its originators. These include different one-off specials and live shows, though after the streaming version ended, no new plans have been announced for a more consistent MST3K return.
Fans looking to support MIGIZI can donate here.
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.