Last night some friends and I gathered at one of our local theaters to spend two hours surrounded by thrills, chills, smirks, and an assortment of laughter simply by watching a collection of short Christmas themed films being made fun of by some of the cast of the cultastic MST3K.
Most of the films came to us from Castle Films vault of misfit films. “Castle Films, pouring boiling oil into the eyes of their viewers for over 30 years.” I believe is how Mike put it at one point. Sadly, he wasn’t far off. Most of the films carried with them the visual equivalent having a bad acid trip being triggered as a result of watching Jack Black attempting to act. That’s the problem with Jack’s acting, even if you’ve never taken any drugs at any time in any of your lives, the second you see him appear on the big screen your skin starts crawling and your brain starts screaming, “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!” but you can’t because it’s, well, a bloody movie.
Thankfully though, the banter and quips that Mike, Bill and Kevin kept making helped diminished the visual trickle that we had to endure. This is the magic of what MST3K started and that RiffTrax has continued to carry on, the ability to create joy and laughter out of a pain invoking situation, which is exactly what the evening was all about.
The audience’s laugh track was already in full swing as my friends and I walked in to the theater. There were some snickers and even some wide open-mouth bursts as we began watching the preshow screen displaying a slide show of RiffTrax themed and made up movie quotes, trivia, and observations. Say what you will, but the audience is the great adjuster. They can either greatly diminish your watching experience or they can greatly improve it. My audience, the audience I was with, was ready to laugh and knew the evening would not disappoint. The energy was static with smiles standing on end.
And it was their flowing fountain of laughter that I began to pay attention to once I was settled into my seat. Some of the laughs were a bit premature, as if the laugher was so full and ready to giggle that they would start laughing at the expectation of the unknown, thinking the humor was bound to be there. Turned out their timing was a bit off and they started laughing too early. Like at the very beginning of the show when Mike, Bill, and Kevin walked out on stage, there was one chap that started laughing, in a sort of up then down pitch. Starting high where he was unable to hear anything he’s then drop the pitch so that he could hear a few words before laughing high again.
I figured he was expecting the humor to begin with the first syllable, instead of having the show begin with a few announcements from the cast. I believe the chap realized this during his second low pitched laugh. He was able to hear what was being said and stopped shortly after. He did keep “open mouth smiling” though. You know that smile, the one you’re never comfortable looking at, but you always get a picture of in your mind due to the sound of every exhale they make. You can actually hear them smiling.
One of my favorite parts about this power keg of giggles was the humming laughter. It’s kind of like the “open mouth smile” but nothing like it. See, its more of an energetic, or quantum smile, as if all the atoms that make you up are vibrating happily as positive “happy atom aura” charges, which permeate from you, allowing others to feel you smiling without seeing your face or hearing your breath.
As the first short film, or as the profession calls them… “short”, the audience began to chorus in laughter, and it is this laughter that I want to talk about.
- There was the “ha ha that is truly funny” laugh, for the many bits that were in fact very funny.
- There was the “ha-AAA” laugh, where you are laughing in amusement and then something funnier happens and you keep laughing, but all you have breath for one last blast of projecting laugh and then you have to stop laughing so your body can take a breath or you DIE!!! Ok fine, or you’ll pass out! (See not nearly as dramatic.
- There was the “wheezing” laugh, where people who are forced to breathe in, because they have laughed all their breather out, do so but have the genetic ability to laugh while breathing in. Unfortunately those laughs sound more like one scared Troy hiding from cultists under the floorboards a garbage house belonging to one Mike Pipper.
- There was also the mid range “cackle” laugh, like that of a middle aged to oldish witch about to bake two Swedish children in her oven because it’s fun and funny.
- There was the little girl high pitched “hehehehe” giggling, which all my friends know I am very capable of and proficient at. I’ve been told when I start laughing like that it is a bit infectious. However, I think it’s mostly because men over six feet tall (1.83 meters for my metric friends) with thick facial hair are not suppose to laugh like that. So when I do, the site and sound is so baffling yet comical, giggling along is really the only option that comes to mind.
- Then there was the full bodied “ha ha ha” laugh. The type of veteran laugh that men in the 50s would share with other men to identify themselves as manly men who laugh at manly things, or, ohhh I know, like Ed McMahon would use on the Tonight Show back in the day. “Ha Ha, YES!”
- There was also the “silent” laughter, which I also took part in. This is the laughing so hard that your voice gives out and you entire body is shaking with laughter, but no noise is coming out. This is usually accompanied by some thrashing about in your seat in a bought of uncontrolled humor trying to escape.
- Don’t get me wrong, there was the occasional “ha, ahh” laugh. The kind, were you start laughing because you expectation is making you laugh, but half way though you realize you expectations were set a little too high and it turns out it really wasn’t that funny. It’s kind of like that one friend that is always telling a funny joke they heard, but isn’t any good at telling jokes, so they laugh though the whole thing and then screw up or have forgotten the punch line and whole prospect of being humorously entertained is sucked away in an uncomfortable silence. At least until someone else shares a joke that brings the laughter back.
I could keep going, but at risk at making a longish post longer I’ll just wrap things up by saying to Mike, Bill and Kevin, “Thank you for a brilliant, festive, and joy filled show.” It’s truly a rare experience when at the end of a show you can get out of your seat, and hear people around you say, “That was sooo bad.” all the while grinning uncontrollably and then adding “I can’t wait to see it again.” Well done men, well done.
Did any of you catch this show? If so, what did you think?
Google Images, key words: RiffTrax Christmas Shorts, MST3K Final Sacrifice, Ed and Johnny, audience laughing, and quantum.