I'm Kevin Murphy. I played Tom Servo for nine seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I'm also author of the book "A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey." presently I work with my fellow MST alums Mike Nelson and Bill Corbett on Rifftrax.com. We're doing a live riff of "Manos: The Hands of Fate" in theaters nationwide this Thursday, which you can check out here: http://rifftrax.com/live In the meantime, ASK ME ANYTHING, although maybe not about algebra. I suck at algebra. This is my first IAmA, and frankly I'm more wigged out about this than I am about doing Manos live. Oh and here's proof, over at my Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/kwmurphy

UPDATE 3PM CENTRAL - I'm still answering questions, but I'm slow, sorry - this is actually a blast! I'm going to keep going until 3:30 Central then take a break to get some work done. But then I'll be back round 5:00 to catch up, hopefully. Thanks All! - kwm

UPDATE 3:30 PM CENTRAL. Okay, this has been a hell of a lot of fun, and you've all made me feel very welcome to the Reddit world. I appreciate it. I'll check in again at about 5:30 for an hour or so. Thanks, Folks! -kwm

UPDATE 5:15 PM CENTRAL - Okay I'm diving back into this thread - I'm delighted at how many cool, new, unsual, thoughtful questions there have been. I'll answer as many as I can until about 7PM Central, then I really do have to finish packing for Nashville. -kwm

UPDATE: 7:05 CENTRAL - It's the Beer Frame Folks, I've cracked a Surly Furious and I'm going for another 30 minutes, until 7:35, so I'll try to answer all I can, then follow up over the next few days.

UPDATE 7:36 CENTRAL _ hate to say it, but I'm out of time - Thanks again to all who came and asked the sublime and the ridiculous. I'll try to follow up later in the week. Cheers! -kwm

Comments: 1527 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

Daniel2497297 karma

What kind of a shit-hole planet is this?

kwmurphy251 karma

I loved saying that line...

myconoid145 karma

So, what really happened to Joel? Aliens? Boredom? Fist fight with YOU?

kwmurphy355 karma

Joel, God bless him, was always interested in trying new stuff. Also, he had a lot of conflict with Jim, making work pretty unpleasant for him. so he decided to start new stuff elsewhere.

beevbo134 karma

Do you miss being a puppeteer? I think you did an amazing job getting Tom Servo to emote for a puppet who had no eyes and a face that wasn't malleable.

kwmurphy264 karma

I mis the character - Tom was so damn much fun to perform. I do not miss holding ten pounds of polystyrene over my head.

Krashenbern133 karma

"This is the most orderly bank robbery I've ever seen..."

It took me many years as a child, growing up with you funny people every week (and reruns) to realize that the silhouette at the bottom of my screen wasn't actually meant to be there, nor the hilarious commentary.

It never sunk in until I saw Danger: DIABOLIK - for real, on television, un-MST3K'd. It was a dark and terrible day.

I wish I had a pertinent question, but mostly I just wanted to thank you for the great times on Saturday mornings when I could laugh at a silly movie with my daddy.


kwmurphy68 karma

Thanks so much!

jeremiahwarren116 karma

Rifftrax are amazing. How do you feel about the people that have pirated them through YouTube?

kwmurphy328 karma

I'd just reiterate that if you like us, and want us to keep doing our stuff, then vote for us by paying for us. I think we're a good entertainment bargain.

jdrexmo98 karma


kwmurphy154 karma


thejoe88 karma

I'm struggling to think of a question.

Can I just say thanks for everything? ...Oh I can? Well hey, Kevin! Thanks for everything!

kwmurphy86 karma

Yes you can say that, and thank YOU.

mcketten87 karma

Kevin: not a question but finally a chance to thank you.

In 2008 I deployed to Iraq. With me was quite possibly the largest concentration of MST3K and Rifftrax fans I had ever met in one single area. I wrote you an email about it and you had your "people" send me a bunch of signed stuff, including a Plan 9 poster signed by the entire crew, some t-shirts, etc.

The stuff arrived when I was in theater and by then I had lost your email address. I have never properly thanked you. So I wanted to do so right now.

Thank you so much: as a lifelong fan it was an awesome surprise to get so much stuff. The biggest fans in my unit also got their T-shirts and I still have my DVD cases and posters that were autographed. Huge treasures for me!

kwmurphy98 karma

And thank you for serving. I'm happy and honored if we were able to make it a bit less tough.

We'd frankly LOVE to do a USO show, if we could ever get the logistic together.

PackinSteel82 karma

Could you elaborate on that banner you received in the mail when you took over to be Tom Servo? You know, the one that said "I HATE TOM SERVO'S NEW VOICE". Any favorite moments working with MST3K?

Thank you for doing this!

kwmurphy180 karma

I still have that banner! Pulled it out at Dragon Con a couple of years back when I did a panel with Josh Weinstein, the Original Tom Servo. Yeah, it was just some person who really hated my voice and best thought it expressed with an eleven foot banner, on perf paper, printed dot-matrix. it's actually one of the few bits of memorabilia I have. And I know, that sounds kinda sick in a Cormac McCarthy way.

mummifiedstalin74 karma

When is Rifftrax going to hook up with Cinematic Titanic for a geek explosion?

kwmurphy118 karma

it would be fun to share the stage with Cinematic Titanic. It'd also be crowded.

GenXCub70 karma

Can you give us all a quick "I regret nothing!" Also, the bears love you Kev.

kwmurphy188 karma


boots189368 karma

Are you still involved with Best Brains LLC in any way? I work for a board game company that is interested in licensing MST3K. Is Jim Mallon the person to contact?

kwmurphy88 karma

I have a teeny tiny bit of ownership in Best Brains and absolutely no say in the biz operations, sorry.

[deleted]61 karma

Did you come up with most of the jokes in a single viewing of these movies, or if not, how many times did you watch them?

kwmurphy102 karma

We sort of watch them in chunks, repeatedly reviewing scenes, over several days. it's an odd sort of close reading of a text. And quite often the first thing in your head is the funniest, but not often enough, which is why we engage a film for days at a time.

Benkenon8259 karma

What is your favorite riff out of all the mst3k's and rifftrax?

kwmurphy162 karma

This changes all the time. I recently saw SPACE MUTINY again and loved it. As for Rifftrax, MUTANT is my current favorite.

zombiepete55 karma

Do you get along with Mike and Bill as well as you seem to, and how much have you enjoyed Rifftrax as an endeavor (I frequent the site and look forward to seeing you via satellite Thursday)

kwmurphy132 karma

I don't know if I'm closer to any two adult men as I am to Mike and Bill, and yet we don't do a lot of socializing. the time we spend together is great fun and intense energy and there's this astonishing level of trust and support I feel from them that makes me want to constantly up my game in order to simply keep up. I love those clowns.

mgroves51 karma

Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?

kwmurphy66 karma

Sail on, silver bird...

ProvoloneWolf49 karma

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

kwmurphy104 karma

I wanted to be an astronaut. But I was worthless at math and color-blind, so out the door that went. After that, believe it our not, I wanted to be on TV.

susaninparis49 karma

What's the worst job you've ever had?

kwmurphy89 karma

I shot training videos for my Dad's Employment agency. I hated that job, hated his business, loved him though.

valisai48 karma

I just wanted to say that the Space Mutiny riffing is poetry. I still yell out those names in my head when seeing buff dudes.

kwmurphy85 karma

"We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese" Thanks, still makes me chuckle.

fantabulizer46 karma

Do you miss doing host segments, especially songs?

kwmurphy76 karma

Always loved the host segments, and LOVED doing songs. hell yes I miss both.

filterless44 karma

What's your favorite beer?

kwmurphy110 karma

Right now, my favorite Beer is my local - Surly Furious. It's strong, bitter, brilliant.

Areilah42 karma

Despite Tom Servo's strong feelings about Canada, will the live rifftrax ever happen up here?

kwmurphy72 karma

I certainly hope so. We have a lot of Canadian fans, despite our seemingly endless bashing.

maxbarkly42 karma

Given the changing landscape of media from when MST3K started to Rifftrax now, what are some of the legal and copyright hurdles you've had to go through over the years and have they gotten better or worse? Are there any shows or rifftrax you guys did that you couldn't release due to rights problems?

kwmurphy59 karma

We almost had the Lilly Tomlin / John Travolta film MOMENT BY MOMENT, and the same with Elvis Presley's CHARRO. But damn if they didn't slip away...

TheBoredGuy39 karma

Do you have any plans to write another book?

Also, I love you.

kwmurphy52 karma

Thanks, I'd love to write another. I'm working on a novel, and it's a blast.

haircut_10037 karma

In Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, you laugh a great deal at the jerk newspaper writer spewing flames out of his "mouth" after he cast a spell. Would you say that is the funniest scene you ever saw in a movie doing MST3K?

kwmurphy62 karma

That movie and its mashed up hash of a plotline was so absurd, everything they thought was scary was instead hilarious.

LLBee36 karma

Hi Kevin, do you know if there are any plans for a DVD release of Manos at all, as I live in the UK and I'd really like to watch it at some point. Thanks! (edit for clarity: I was referring to the Rifftrax of Manos, not Manos itself. Thanks anyway guys!)

(also is corn grass?)

kwmurphy65 karma

Don't know about the plans beyond the live show. Sorry.

And YES. Corn is grass.

thestsp35 karma

Huge fan! But I've always wondered, is it instinct to start riffing on movies when you go out to see them in a real theater? Also do you shush other people when you hear them talk in a theater?

kwmurphy63 karma

If someone talks during a movie, I politely ask them to shut up. And no, I don't riff on movies in a theater, but I often to at home.

AllenPerks33 karma

Do your weapons have any effect on me?

kwmurphy54 karma

"Haven't I previously indicated that your weapons are useless against me?!"

jsmurph32 karma

This is more of a request than a question, but would you (and Mike and Bill, ideally) be willing to follow me around for a day and riff my life?

kwmurphy64 karma

FOr millions and millions of dollars, yes.

TheEttinauer32 karma

I read your book A Year At The Movies at a pretty dark time in my life and it seriously helped me rediscover the magic of cinema, inspired me to seek out new art and new experiences, and made me a better film-goer. I have a few questions about your movie-going experiences in the 11 years since the writing of that book.

What have been some significant or memorable film-going experiences since then, either due to the theater or the film in question? What are your thoughts on the continuing changes in movie preservation and public presentation, including 3D and digital presentation? Are there any conclusions or observations you made in writing the book that you disagree with or have reconsidered? And more simply: What is the most recent movie you've seen in theaters that you really enjoyed?

Thanks for your time. I hope the live riff is a huge success.

kwmurphy49 karma

Thanks for the kind words about my book, I'm glad you liked it. I'm glad that full-on movies are now coming to IMAX - I just hope they really learn to use the formet. SO much potential. My most recent favorite experience was seeing Army of Darkness in a park.

watership31 karma

Are there any movies that one of the Rifftrax crew just HATED, but the rest of you loved doing? I just want to know about the pain.

kwmurphy50 karma

I think that happens quite a bit. Laser Mission simply sat on my head, and the little comic relief bastard in Prisoners of the Lost Universe genuinely did piss me off.

bunnymud29 karma

Do you plan on doing the epic "5 year plan" dialogue in the "Manos" live show. That would put me on the floor

kwmurphy64 karma

it wouldn't be nice to reveal what we will or will not include in the show. But this much I can happily say - this riff is a top-to-bottom rewrite, all fresh stuff.

maggiebree26 karma

Thanks for doing this! Coming to the Belcourt Thursday to see you live-live for the third time. You guys seem to use the Belcourt quite a bit for RiffTrax, not that I'm complaining, but is there a reason? It's the fantastic audiences, right?

kwmurphy37 karma

It is in part because our video producers are based there, but in truth, the audiences have been unbelievably great. it's a show-biz town in all the right ways.

Issitheus26 karma

Hi, Kevin. Thanks so much for doing this AMA. I brought Rifftrax with me to both Star Wars and Titanic, some of the best ideas I ever had. I'm curious, which did/do you prefer doing, Rifftrax or MST3K?

kwmurphy47 karma

At its best, MST was such a family thing, like a group of goofy friends with a stage and cameras and we could do whatever we want. Rifftrax is great in a different way, we can relax into ourselves and pl;ay off each other like a jazz trio.

i_vocaroo_you25 karma

I got to tell Bill this and I wanted to say it to you as well.

I had a pretty shitty abusive childhood and the work you guys did on your show was one of the only sources of joy I had as a kid. Things are better now, so I wanted to say a sincere thank you from one human to another for making me laugh until I had tears. You helped shape a sense of humor of which I am very proud.

Can't wait for Manos, and as long as you guys keep bringing the funny I'll keep up with the money.

kwmurphy35 karma

That's very kind, and bravo to you for surviving. Child abuse if one of the darkest crimes imaginable, and those who go through it and survive are usually courageous people who have had good support and love in getting through the Hell of it, so I hope that's the case for you.

We'll do our best to keep bringing the funny.

indiegeek24 karma

Hey Kevin - Screw this whole silly "comedy" thing - I want to talk mandolins. Got a particular favorite out of your electric mandolins, and which one is the most comfortable to play when wearing a sexy santa outfit?

kwmurphy28 karma

I have a reissue MandoCaster, that weird lot that came out in the nineties, I think, and it's pretty damn nice, though I want to replace the pickup. But nothing sounds like the F-5 my father gave me back in the eighties.

BobaFeta23 karma

i have never laughed so hard in my life (tears rolling down my face) as i did during the break scene during "santa claus" when everyone was caroling and the hot chocolate spills onto crow and his eyes fall out and everyone starts screaming hysterically.. was that planned or was that an accident? also, i would like to say i have a mini tom servo doll in my living room that i proudly display on a shelf of fancies.

kwmurphy42 karma

Crows eyes falling out was damn near impossible to plan, and when it happened we always tried to roll with it. This is one example when it worked - didn't plan the eyes popping out, but went with it. One time the eyes caught fire, and believe me those ping-pong balls go up fast and bright - I still laugh myself silly today when I see it.

TheDocWhovian22 karma

Why haven't you guys done any MP3 Commentaries in a while? I think the last one was Breaking Dawn a couple of months ago.

Like, I know you're busy with the live riffs and whatnot, but the A-list movie riffs are my favourite, and it kind of bums me out that they haven't been around in a while.

kwmurphy32 karma

Really juicy big titles that people will actually watch are often hard to find. but there's a big crop of blockbusters a'coming out, so stay tuned...

mgroves21 karma

Based on some interviews and Wikipedia, it seems like Mike sits on the relatively conservative side of the political spectrum while you and Bill site on the relatively liberal side. Obviously this is a gross generalization, but is it close to the truth?

If so, does it affect your relationships and writing when you know you're writing and delivering jokes that poke fun of each other's own "sides"? Is this even an issue that you've ever discussed? What is/was the MST3K/RiffTrax policy on political jokes?

kwmurphy84 karma

If anything, I'd call us all engaged thinkers, and I've never based a friendship on someone's politics. You miss out on a lot of good friendships that way. I think of myself as an Angry Centrist. And good humor transcends partisanship.

lexyloowho21 karma

I used to read the Rifftrax blog compulsively when it was updated, and I have a very odd but vivid memory of you being mentioned as some sort of an "icon" in the bear community. Now I can't seem to find the reference or anything other than bear conservancy websites. Was it all a dream? Are you a grizzly?

kwmurphy51 karma

Heh heh heh, and grrr. It was a reporter from a gat weekly who informed me that i am "somewhat of an icon in the Bear community." I was flattered.

sirmuskrat21 karma

Who voices Disembaudio? Come on, you can tell us. We promise to keep it secret.

kwmurphy46 karma

I will go to my grave.

samthehammer20 karma

The nearest theater showing Rifftrax Live is about an hour away. Worth the drive?

Also, did you see there's a Birdemic II?

kwmurphy46 karma

We'll do our damndest to make it worth the drive.

Have not yet seen Birdemic II, but I'm beginning to drool....

mummifiedstalin19 karma

And why is everyone turning down my invitations to go to Manos on Thursday with me? What kind of shit-hole plan...er...town is this?

kwmurphy38 karma

Philistines. Tell'em there'll be ladies wrestling in nighties.

Quasimodem196918 karma

Kevin - what's the one question you always wanted to be asked, but never were?

kwmurphy41 karma

Wow! Probably some sort of James - Lipton-y question, like "what's your favorite foreign word?" (answer - "cacahuate.")

yukinonymous18 karma

Since you sing so much do you enjoy karaoke?

kwmurphy54 karma

Only the right karaoke will do. My favorites are "I started a Joke" by the Bee Gees, and Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman."

ThatGuyFromFark18 karma

Just wanted to say how much I loved your work on MST3K and continue to with Rifftrax. Have you ever thought about getting in bed with movie theaters to provide Rifftrax headsets for all the terrible movies coming out? I know I sure as hell would pay extra for that at the theater.

kwmurphy25 karma

That's a fiendishly clever idea! The main reason we've never approached a studio to do a commentary track, is that it's a studio and they would never stop lying to us and messing with our product. But wouldn't it have been fun to have a riff in your head as you sat in the theater watching THE ROAD?

Hobbitopoly17 karma

Love the Rifftrax stuff! What was the worst movie you ever had to sit through when you did MST3K? (My bet is Invasion of the Neptune Men...)

kwmurphy49 karma

I still think that RED ZONE CUBA tops my MST hate list...

Scotthulhu17 karma

Do you prefer Husker-Du's earlier hardcore stuff or their later melodic sound?

kwmurphy24 karma

I really only heard the Huskers when they were slammin' like mad.

DrakeKesda17 karma

Do you have any advice for starving writers/comedians, not pertaining to eating routines?

kwmurphy22 karma

Don't quit. Persevere. Write all the time. If you need motivation, maybe read Steven Pressfield's WAR OF ART. But do the work.

lizardinmycoffee16 karma

First, you are awesome! Tom Servo is my favorite on MST3K!

In MST3K, when you would perform choral pieces as Tom Servo, like Starfighters and Quest of the Delta Knights, who composed the songs and how long did it take you to record all of the parts?

kwmurphy20 karma

Thanks! Mike and I generally composed all the chorale stuff that Tom did, and then it was just an exercise in overdubbing. I have a lot of harmony singing in my past, so the parts would come together pretty fast. Sometimes we'd use a keyboard as a reference, but we could often knock out a song in a day from idea fo finished concept. We had to, we had a deadline.

tigerears16 karma

Has your work on MST3K or Rifftrax ever got you in to trouble with filmmakers who didn't enjoy the treatment?

kwmurphy73 karma

Oh, I heard that Jo Dante hated us for riffing on MAROONED, and I think Tommy Wiseau is confused about just what we did with his movie. We didn't steal it, Tommy.

OxGaabe615 karma

Any thoughts on doing an actual tour, riffing a movie live and present in theaters/venues across the country/world? I think you've done them before, but I might be confusing it with Cinematic Titanic (is that a bad word?).

kwmurphy41 karma

Yeah, the "Live in Theaters" show gets us to a lot of places that a live-on-stage show could not, small towns, remote towns. And the ticket price is pretty decent.

Tyanazai15 karma

Is there a movie that you tried to riff but just were not able to and or will not riff?

kwmurphy28 karma

We've never given up on a movie. There are plenty we screened and then changed our minds, but we've not ever started a move and bailed.

zadocvamp14 karma

Will you and Bill and Mike ever come to the East coast anytime soon?

kwmurphy32 karma

Trying to get there. I'd love us to do a week at a club in NYC, for instance.

richardajensen14 karma

Do you have any fondness for any of the MST3k movies, or any of the 'bad' movies you've done at RiffTrax? Movies that were just goofy, or maybe could've been better with a bigger budget?

kwmurphy30 karma

I loved all the Ptushko Russian Finnish movies, like Jack Frost and Sinbad. Just so colorful and crazy and earnest, actually watchable on their own. and I always loved the ham-fisted Science Men! films like ROCKETSHIP X-M. Such misplaced id in those films.

wardialer197614 karma

Can you explain the Hamdinger (sp?) joke from the movie? I am still after all these years oblivious to that joke. Also, MST3K the movie is still to this day, the hardest I've ever laughed in a theater in my life. Looking forward to Manos!

kwmurphy20 karma

When I was a kid and we'd vacation in Wisconsin the local Sentry supermarket had these canned chopped ham patties called Hamdingers. I loved 'em. I used to think they were made by Swift but learned recently they were from patrick Cudahey. At any rate, We needed a place that Gypsy would hide Joel's escape pod, and it seemed logical that it would be hidden with a canned meat product. Don't ask me why.

NotMagicalMike13 karma

Comment: I saw MST3k: The Movie at Notre Dame. I was the only one that laughed at the bong joke. Also, solve: Find the slope of the curve y = x2 , at the point x = -1.

kwmurphy35 karma

Thank you for laughing at our bong joke.

Go Irish.

I have no idea how to find a slope except from a chairlift.

Philtheguy13 karma

Mister Murphy, I've heard you say in interviews that the point-of-view of MST3k was very Midwestern (because of your location, and the writing staff). What qualities make up the Midwestern personality?

(Born and live in Champaign, IL and I can confirm that "The Beginning of the End" was NOT filmed anywhere near hear.)

kwmurphy39 karma

I think there's a very dry sort of mind-yer-manners attitude, a gentle blandness as if black pepper was the equivalent of a habanero, a sort of sing-songy-oh-golly lilt to the speech, and in the case of Minnesota, that thing called Nice which is a mask for seething resentment.

Squish9212 karma

Spoken with Mr. B Natural lately?

kwmurphy21 karma

He visits my dreams alllll too often...

UOLATSC11 karma

1) MST3k has been a huge part of my life since my childhood, when I'd wake up every Saturday at 6:00 AM to watch it on Sci Fi, even if it was a rerun of an episode I'd seen a thousand times. Wherever I am, if I'm lonely or sad all I have to do is fire up an MST3k episode and I feel right at home again. So seriously, thank you for this amazing show.

2) Are you aware that nearly every episode of MST3k is streaming on YouTube? Have the Brains consciously not taken action on this in the same spirit of 'keep circulating the tapes', or do they just not know?

3) Servo sings the Rowsdower song in The Final Sacrifice, which just about paralyzes my Mom with laughter every time. Do you remember who had the idea for that riff? Whoever it was deserves a Nobel Prize.

kwmurphy15 karma

1 - My Pleasure! 2 - Yeah, I have no control over that, but SHout Factory does such a great job of packaging nice clean copies of the shows with great goodies that I hope people ultimately will buy or rent them.

3 - I don't remember who, but that one is truly a classic.

edgesrazor10 karma

So the dressing in drag for RiffTrax Live - so wrong, or so right?

kwmurphy13 karma

So right!

Polite_Werewolf10 karma

First, i'd like to thank you guys for getting some lesser known, and lesser respected, films to a larger audience.

Second, regardless of quality, or rights, what films are at the top of your list that you'd like to riff on?

kwmurphy20 karma

These days I'm lobbying for us to do a silent film, whether a short or a feature. Metropolis, I'm looking at you....

krach879 karma

As someone who nearly died in a tragic Zaa-ing accident, fuck you, it's not funny.

kwmurphy14 karma

I always advocate safe zaa-ing.

Jw15928 karma

Could you guys tour to a random obscure town in North Dakota sometime? I would appreciate it.

kwmurphy14 karma

We'll come up in the dead of winter.

dkitch8 karma

Is there any movie you've wanted to do, but been unable to, due to either not being able to find a way to make it funny, or the only way to make it funny being too tasteless?

Difficulty: not "Birth of a Nation" or "Triumph of the Will"

kwmurphy22 karma

I think of "Amistad" and "Schindlers List" as examples of movies that wouldn't benefit from riffing.