NEPA Scene Staff

‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ creator Joel Hodgson brings final live tour to Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 23

‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ creator Joel Hodgson brings final live tour to Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 23
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From a press release:

It was announced today that the award-winning television comedy “Mystery Science Theater 3000” is returning to Wilkes-Barre with an all-new live show featuring Joel Hodgson, the original host and creative vision behind the beloved TV and Netflix series for more than three decades, in his final live tour.

Produced by Alternaversal LLC, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour comes to the F.M. Kirby Center on Wednesday, Oct. 23 with the never-before-screened film “Circus of Horrors.”

Tickets, which are $39.50, $49.50, and $59.50, plus fees, go on sale this Friday, Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. and will be available at the Sundance Vacations Box Office at the Kirby Center (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre), online at, and by phone at 570-826-1100. A Kirby Member pre-sale begins Thursday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m.

Following the wildly successful Watch Out for Snakes! Tour in 2017 and 30th Anniversary Tour that stopped at the Kirby Center in 2018, Hodgson will don the red jumpsuit one final time as Joel Robinson to host Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour alongside the world’s greatest – and only – movie riffing robots: Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy.

The show gives fans the chance to sit in the same theater with their favorite characters and promises all of the “MST3K” signatures and rapid-fire hilarity that have built “MST3K’s” loyal following over more than 30 years: a cheesy B-movie, hilarious riffing, wisecracking robots, silly sketches, and Hodgson in the red jumpsuit as host Joel Robinson.

“This is our third national tour, and it’s bigger than the first two combined!” Hodgson said. “I really wanted to do something special since it’s my farewell tour with ‘MST3K Live.’ Also, Tom, Crow, and Gypsy have become such great live performers, I decided to give them the ultimate challenge: a movie riffing robot circus!”

“Circus of Horrors” is a garish 1960s British thriller showcasing colorful circus acts, plastic surgery, and animal attacks by stagehands in fur suits. Be forewarned that this movie features pop hit “Look for a Star” over and over again.

“If the tour is coming anywhere near your town, and you consider yourself an ‘MST3K’ fan, you absolutely owe it to yourself to get a ticket,” wrote.

“MST3K” has earned its place in history as one of the Top 100 TV shows of all time (Time, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly), receiving multiple Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award along the way. Following a record-setting Kickstarter campaign, the series was revived in 2017 with all-new episodes now streaming on Netflix.

Created by Joel Hodgson, the first season of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” aired in 1988 on KTMA-TV in Minneapolis. Set on the Satellite of Love, the series follows a hapless host trapped by mad scientists on a satellite in space who is forced to watch some of the most outrageously unfortunate B-movies ever created. To keep sane, he’s built two robot sidekicks and together they do a running commentary on the films, affectionately mocking their flaws with inspired wisecracks and acting as a lively movie theater peanut gallery.

“MST3K’s” national broadcast life began in 1989 on the Comedy Channel (later to become Comedy Central), where it ran for seven seasons. The show’s final three seasons aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson. When he left in 1993, series head writer Mike Nelson replaced him as the new cheesy movie victim and continued in the role for the rest of the show’s run. The format proved to be popular, and during its 10 seasons and 197 episodes on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, it attained a fervently devoted fan base, known as “MSTies,” and critical acclaim, including a Peabody Award and two Primetime Emmy nominations.

In late 2015, Shout! Factory and Hodgson formed a new partnership, known as Satellite of Love LLC, to acquire the global IP rights to “MST3K” with the aim of producing new episodes and managing and developing the IP in other areas. The highly successful “MST3K” Kickstarter campaign to #BringBackMST3K, spearheaded by Shout! Factory and Hodgson, surpassed its goal by funding the production of 14 new episodes and set the world record as the highest-funded film and video crowdfunding campaign in history. These episodes of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with new host Jonah Ray debuted as a Netflix original series on April 14, 2017. Later in 2017, Netflix renewed the series for another season.

Hodgson started in show business as a stand-up comedian during college, headlining comedy clubs in Minneapolis. After graduation in 1982, he moved to Los Angeles and became a regular at The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.

In 1983, he was booked for his first network television appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” and HBO’s “Young Comedians Special with John Candy.” The following year, Hodgson became a series regular on both “Letterman” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” with four appearances on each. When he wasn’t on television, he was performing his act in comedy clubs and theaters across the country.

In 1987, he was invited by Jerry Seinfeld to co-write Seinfeld’s first HBO special, “Stand-Up Confidential,” where Hodgson began to take an interest in other aspects of production. In the period after this, he began doing ensemble work in the Minneapolis area producing two stage productions, “Heavy Levity” and “Spookfest 87,” while continuing to invent and design props, toys, and robots.

It was in 1988 that Hodgson created “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the groundbreaking movie riffing series, which premiered on St. Paul’s local UHF station, KTMA, in Minnesota. The show migrated to cable on the Comedy Channel, then to Comedy Central, then Sci-Fi, and ran for a total of 11 years, producing nearly 200 episodes and a feature film. It also collected several Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award along the way.

In 1995, he explored more work in Hollywood, including creative development for The Jim Henson Company and Walt Disney Television. As a writer, he co-wrote the Disney feature “Honey We Shrunk Ourselves” with Nell Scovell, as well as Cartoon Network’s “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.” He also was a magic consultant for the series “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and for Penn & Teller’s “Sin City Spectacular.” HBO also commissioned Hodgson’s experimental comedy special “The TV Wheel,” which premiered on Comedy Central.

With the background and experience his career had provided, Hodgson developed and began performing his one-man show Riffing Myself at theaters and comic cons. He also started performing again with the original cast of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” in a show called “Cinematic Titanic,” which he refers to as a “readers’ theater” version of “MST3K.” The group’s run spanned nearly seven years with over 100 live performances.

In November of 2015, Hodgson created the #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter campaign, and along with the show’s “backers,” raised over $6 million to fund new episodes of “MST3K” while setting a world record for the most successful crowdfunding campaign for a film and video project ever.

The first new season after the Kickstarter was titled “MST3K: The Return” and featured an all-new cast as well as cameos by the original “MST3K” cast and writers. It launched on Netflix in April of 2016 and received critical acclaim, including a 100 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Netflix commissioned a second order for the series, which was called “MST3K: The Gauntlet,” and it was also met with critical praise, including another coveted Rotten Tomatoes 100 percent “fresh” review.

Hodgson is currently the Chief Creative Officer of Alternaversal, which is the company responsible for the creating the new IP for “MST3K.” This includes the #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter campaign, 20 feature-length episodes for Netflix, two national tours of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live, and a six-comic mini-series for Dark Horse Comics.