In March (of the year that shall not be named) my wife, myself, my brother and his wife had the opportunity to visit the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Cheesy Movie Circus Tour at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah. Joel Hodgson was the host for the show. We were also introduced to future MST3K host, Emily Marsh. It turns out that we were lucky to see one of the last shows on the Cheesy Movie Circus Tour. A week or two later, everything shut down in the story we all know. That show was one of the few highlights in the year that shall not be named.
Fast forward to a year and a half later and the MST3K Time Bubble Tour arrives back at the same theater in Salt Lake City. Armed with a vaccination card (or proof of a negative test) fans could once again laugh at the live riffing of a bad movie we had hardly heard of. It felt good to keep our sanity with the help of our robot friends. And… not everything went off without a hitch. But that is why they call it a live show.
At the previous show, we were far in the back in one of the balcony sections. My mother had purchased the tickets for all of us as a Christmas gift. For 2021, we purchased our seats on the ground floor only eight rows back. Unlike the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert last month, everything was on the main stage. So we wanted to be as close as possible. We were not disappointed.
Yvonne Freese came out on stage as Mega Synthia and set up the scene. This clone-relative to the various Forresters (the baddies of MST3K) has invented a time bubble that will surround the theater and move us back and forth in time while she subjects Emily and the bots to the latest experiment, a bad move from 1985 called “Making Contact“. Let’s just say that the movie was worthy of being heckled by the bots.
The jokes were wonderful. We were laughing our butts off the entire show. Especially over all of the different 80’s references seen in the movie. You could tell this was made in the days before you had to have permission to show it in your movie. There was a ton of stuff from Star Wars, Sesame Street, major league sports teams, Star Trek and more.
As with any MST3K show, there were several comedic skits. They were very well done and very funny. I would recommend watching the show to see how these skits, with props, were used in the Time Bubble Tour.
And then… disaster happened.
A light rain which had started when the show begin, turned into a major snowstorm. Friends on twitter had talked about Thundersnow that was happening outside. These were big thick heavy flakes. We don’t know if it contributed directly to what happened in the live show, but I’d believe it. There was only about 20 minutes left in the show when suddenly the lights started flashing and the fire curtain slowly came down in front of the actors. They were waving at us as the curtain reached the stage with this surprised look on their faces. Not knowing if this was part of the show or not, I didn’t pull my phone out to take a photo. Thankfully, Justin Carmony documented the incident on twitter confirming for me (afterwards) that this was not part of the show. The actors had to do some improvisational lines to get us back into the show. The final of the movie was a bit confusing, because I have no idea what happened. Wikipedia doesn’t really have a description of the movie at the end. This also lead to another oddity that afflicted the show.
When all of the graphics come back up, they are backwards. This includes the final skit where we all escape from Mega Synthia’s time bubble. Again more improvisation was required. Luckily, we were able to escape. Only to find out the snow has turned Salt Lake’s roads into a massive slush pile.
Utah drivers are bad enough when the weather is pleasant. Add enough snow to sled down on and you’ve got a slippery situation. So our exciting day is ended by a very long and very slow trip home. Thanks to the iron nerves of my wife behind the wheel, we were able to make it. Remember people, four-wheel drive doesn’t mean four-wheel stop.
If you get a chance to see the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Time Bubble Tour, go. Especially if you’ve ever enjoyed any of the MST3K series. There are tributes to the past actors who have paved the way for this new group and they are carrying the torch proudly.