Hi Reddit, Mary Jo Pehl here from Mystery Science Theater, Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax. Ready to answer ANY of your questions you may have for me!

I’ll also be participating in my first Sidestream tonight, watching “Evil Brain From Outerspace” where fans can watch movies with their favorite celebrities in real time. I would love for you to join for tonight’s showing and participate with other users in the chat.

Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/MaryJoPehl/status/1338216227181891586?s=20

Edit: Thanks for the questions Reddit! Hope you all can join me for tonight’s live showing of “Evil Brain From Outerspace” at 9pm et / 6pm pt as we riff on it and laugh for a fun movie night together.

Link here to the viewing event: https://watchsidestream.com/maryjopehl

Comments: 252 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

loversalibi204 karma

hi omg i’m a huge fan and i’m so stoked i got here early because i always miss the AMAs i would most want to ask questions in

as for my question: what, in your opinion, is the most decent and genuinely enjoyable movie that’s been on MST3K? i personally loved kitten with a whip wholeheartedly and i thought the screaming skull was legitimately gripping for the most part as well.

AMA_MaryJo163 karma

I think Kitten With A Whip was well made, for sure, it was just the melodrama that made it right for us.

casimar71123 karma

How are you doing? We miss you here in Austin.

AMA_MaryJo175 karma

Doing okay, all things considered. I miss Austin. Austin, TX that is - not Austin, Minnesota, SPAM Headquarters

Motown27117 karma

Hi Mary Jo! What is your favorite memory from making MST3K, CT, or Rifftrax?

AMA_MaryJo190 karma

All of them: getting to laugh so hard all the time.

MST3K: Bobo (Kevin’s) butt in my face when Pearl and brain guy were in the fan. I always loved how Kevin would push the funny.

Cinematic Titanic: all the live shows but the time when we were backstage, I said my feet were cold, so Joel put two buns around my foot from the snack bar to warm me up.

RiffTrax: some of the lines Bridget has written and said… always fun, but sometimes I’ll think of one out of context - which currently escape me - and start laughing.

Beezechurger1107 karma

Hi Mary Jo!

How much of Pearl Forrester's character was created/written by you? She seems to have a lot of your humor to her, and I think she's one of the best villains ever!

AMA_MaryJo155 karma

Wow, thanks! I think she was informed by my mom and an aunt of mine, and we writers had a good simpatico in our writing, so we all contributed in shaping her.

But I definitely was working out a lot of personal aggression!

burywmore93 karma

How did you start work at MST3K? Were you recruited by them, or did you "apply" for a job?

AMA_MaryJo265 karma

I applied! Best Brains has a “Now Hiring” sign as I was driving by so I went for it!

I knew everybody from the Twin Cities comedy scene, I knew they were working on a show, but I didn’t have a TV at the time so I had NO idea what it was about. Then I heard they were adding to the staff, so I mustered up EVERY OUNCE OF COURAGE I had to call Head Writer Mike Nelson and submit materials.

TheRealDCF62 karma

Did you get to keep anything from your MST3K days—props or uniforms and such? And is there anything you would have liked to have kept?

AMA_MaryJo142 karma

I think most of the props, costumes, sets, etc. got sold. I only kept one prop because I am an ascetic - in one host segment Crow did a book report on the Civil War which was naturally convoluted and ill informed…

And Patrick Brantseg (prop master extraordinaire along with Beez McKeever) made the most amazing, ridiculous hilarious map of the Civil War sites. The only thing I ever kept, I loved it so much

crapnapkins61 karma

What is something you wish fans of MST3K understood?

AMA_MaryJo118 karma

That is you’re wondering where we got the movies, it’s been covered in about 8 million interviews.

For real - y’all are great and I think we’ve all been a little humbled and overwhelmed by the FANS who let us keep doing what we do.

HilariousSpill55 karma

First off, Naturally A Girl is one of my favorite shorts, so thanks for that!

Does riffing professionally make it tough to watch a non-terrible movie or show immersively? Are you always writing jokes for it in some part of your mind?

AMA_MaryJo71 karma

Naturally a Girl is sooo great!

And no, honestly, I’ve managed to start turning off that part of my brain so I can just simply watch something and enjoy. Or NOT enjoy. But not feel compelled to riff!

EngineF52 karma

What's your go-to Torchy's order?

AMA_MaryJo70 karma

GAH! It’s been so long since I’ve been there. Honestly, I’ll take anything off the Torchy’s menu!

kozimcrazy48 karma

If you were given a plane like in "Time Chasers" what year would you go to and what would you do?

AMA_MaryJo81 karma


Probably go back to summer 2018 and not go zip lining with my sisters. I was terrified, had to be lowered from the course midway through, and STILL have nightmares. My sisters bravely soldiered on, not giving me a second thought!

pwndabeer40 karma

Hi! How many times do you have to watch these shitty movies in order to write your own scripts?

AMA_MaryJo73 karma

At MST3K we watched the movie approximately 9 or so times. And that was drilling deep, starting and stopping. Cinematic Titantic at least four or five to write, each of us drilling down into a section we’d been assigned. Same with RiffTrax.

babygomax37 karma

What is sidestream about exactly? How do I tune in?

AMA_MaryJo59 karma

It’s a way to watch a movie with a bunch of like-minded folks.

Tonight I’m hosting the The Evil Brain From Outer Space, and it’s a way to hang out and have fun at the movies together. Super easy to access.

Here’s the link: https://watchsidestream.com/maryjopehl

itate37 karma

Do you doctor frozen food like your parents? Love you and Bridgette riffing, a perfect match!

AMA_MaryJo53 karma

No, I do not “doctor food” like my parents! You know how kids rebel!! For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, please refer to my Ted Talk.

terrymcginnisbeyond33 karma

This is a huge treat, and love your portrayal of Pearl Forrester, you're an amazing Mad!

I heard you mention at a Q and A you weren't a huge, 'sci-fi / fantasy' fan, do you think this made it easier to write more broad jokes, situations?

And if I can ask a follow up, what was a hard, 'experiment' movie to write for? Not necessarily the worst but maybe a boring movie?

AMA_MaryJo54 karma

Not being a huge sci-fi or fantasy fan hasn’t helped, me thinks. It makes me out of the loop on stuff, and I’m sure there have been great jokes that could have been deployed but for me not knowing that much about the genres. But ask me anything about the Ottoman Empire, I’m your history nerd girl!

SJ_Barbarian31 karma

Hi there! My husband and I were just talking about the evolution of Pearl from her first appearance, coming up with a bunch of possibilities about why she gave herself a makeover. Is that something you thought about at all?

AMA_MaryJo68 karma

If memory serves, I think we were just trying to simplify the process. The early Pearl was about two hours at least in makeup, with the nails, the hair, the makeup itself.

It evolved so other people could have a turn in the makeup chair, because Bobo and Brain Guy had intensive makeup needs as well. And I was glad for it because trying to comb out my hair and take off those nails was a real bitch at the end of the day.

timdorr21 karma

Mary Jo, hello!

You're best known for MST3K, but I know you've done a lot outside of that world. So, what career achievement or work are you most proud of that doesn't involve movie riffing (MST/CT/RT)?

AMA_MaryJo51 karma

I did a web series a few years ago called “Ruth Larson Lives” about a failed product demonstrator at a local grocery chain.

I’d been sitting on the idea for years, couldn’t get legs under me, and I finally did it.

It was hard for me to ask my hilarious and talented friends to work for free, but dammit, they all pitched in and they make me laugh so much. So whether or not it’s great art, meh, I’m glad that I followed through on something.

colossuskidd21 karma

Pineapple on pizza? Yes or no?

AMA_MaryJo78 karma


mr_chip17 karma

I just have general career questions, so apologies if this is overloaded with Q’s. Can you talk a bit about how you got into comedy? Were you always wanting to be a performer or a writer? What’s it like working with the same people for decades now? What’s the work in your career that you’re most proud of?

Your work has brought a lot of joy to my whole family. Thank you!

AMA_MaryJo42 karma

I didn’t think you could a performer or a writer - I come from a family of accountants and teachers. Comedy/writing found ME after getting fired from a lot of jobs because I didn’t get how the corporate/day job worked!

A friend dragged me to an open stage, I had three minutes of material, forgot two minutes, but it just kind of built from there.

I’m not just proud of MST3K, Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax, each in their iteration, I’m also proud of growing as a writer, continuing to discover my voice and hopefully being better at what I do.

Alxcooldude317 karma

What are the 5 most requested Movies you have been request to do on MST3000 that you have done yet ?

AMA_MaryJo29 karma

Don’t know that I could narrow it down - we’re always getting suggestions but I don’t keep track. What are YOUR five most MST3K requests that we should have done??

TeenSpirit116 karma

Which of the robots is your favorite?

AMA_MaryJo30 karma

OH COME ON!! Way to put me on the spot!

Honestly, and I’m not trying equivocate, what Kevin, Trace and Bill brought them gave me affection for each version.

ugagradlady16 karma

What's the worst movie you ever roasted on your shows?

AMA_MaryJo41 karma

Manos is fairly obvious but… ANY of the Coleman Francis oeuvre.

WizrdOfSpeedAndTime16 karma

What is your favorite short that you have riffed?

AMA_MaryJo30 karma

I LOVE the Farm Family series that Bridget and I did.

unicorndeathrace13 karma

Hi Mary Jo! How's Ruth Larson doing? I miss her vuh-logs.

AMA_MaryJo16 karma

You are soooo sweet!

Hoping to get more in the hopper one of these days, but world and time - and budget - enough!

Pezdrake11 karma

Tell me.... as someone who has a lot of suggestions for films for Rifftrax, what's the bureaucratic process of identifying and obtaining rights to films? (I tweeted you about a FANTASTIC Corman film "Sorority Girl" a while back and really really want you and Bridget to riff it)

AMA_MaryJo19 karma

I’m not terribly familiar with how rights are obtained. On MST3K there were a lot of PD films and/or films that Comedy Central/HBO had the rights to.

Sorority Girl would be great, but we’ve found that once a filmmaker is on to us, they challenge access to their films - this was our experience with Roger Corman and a PD film we tried to do with Cinematic Titanic. Can’t speak to how RiffTrax goes about it.

JuggerBot_5 karma

Hey Mary Jo! Have you seen any of the tribute shows Achievement Hunter have done?

They have a show they do that they have said is directly inspired by the laughs and joy that your show has brought them.

AMA_MaryJo5 karma

No, I haven’t! I’ve seen a lot of other “comedy bands” who riff, and Master Pancake in Austin is a favorite who’ve I gotten to work with - I’ll have to check out Achievement Hunters. Thanks for the heads up.

casimar712 karma

How did the Sidestream event come to happen and/or are you thinking this could be the first of many?

claytempleton1 karma

Curious if you’ll be riffing on Sidestream or just watching along?

AMA_MaryJo6 karma

I decided to approach this Sidestream viewing a little differently! I’d never even heard of the movie, haven’t ever seen it, and I’ve chosen not to read anything about it!

I thought it would be fun to discover it with y’all or see who all has already seen it!

But I mean, c’mon, judging by the title and artwork, it’s right up our alley.