SAN JOSE, CA — The award-winning TV comedy Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) is coming to San Jose in an all-new live show featuring Joel Hodgson, original host and the creative vision behind the beloved TV and Netflix comedy 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 will play the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, January 23, 2020, with the never-before-screened film Circus of Horrors. [Click here for event information]
“This is our third national tour, and it’s bigger than the first two combined,” said Hodgson. “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!”
Premiering in 1988 on KTMA-TV in Minneapolis, 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.
The featured film, Circus of Horrors, is described as a garish 1960s British thriller showcasing colorful circus acts, plastic surgery, and animal attacks by stagehands in fur suits. (Warning: It features pop hit “Look for a Star” over and over again.)
Joel Hodgson started in show business as a stand-up comedian during college, headlining in comedy clubs in Minneapolis. After graduation in 1982, Joel moved to LA and became a regular at The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.
In 1983, Joel was booked for his first network television appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, followed by HBO’s Young Comedians Special with John Candy. The following year, Joel became a regular guest on both Letterman and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, with four appearances on each. When he wasn’t on television, Joel was performing his act in comedy clubs and theaters across the country.
In 1987, Joel was invited by Jerry Seinfeld to co-write Seinfeld’s first HBO special, Stand-Up Confidential, where Joel began to take an interest in other aspects of production. In the period after this, Joel 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 Joel 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 eleven years, producing nearly 200 episodes and a feature film. It also collected several Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award along the way.
In 1995, Joel explored more work in Hollywood, including creative development for The Jim Henson Company and Walt Disney Television. As a writer, Joel co-wrote the Disney feature Honey We Shrunk Ourselves with Nell Scovell, as well as Cartoon Network’s Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Joel also was a magic consultant for the series Sabrina the Teenage Witch and for Penn and 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 Joel’s career had provided, he developed and began performing his one man show Riffing Myself at theaters and comi-cons. He also started performing again with the original cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in a show called Cinematic Titanic, which Joel 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, Joel created the #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter campaign, and along with the show’s “backers,” raised over six million dollars 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 2016 and received critical acclaim, including “100% Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.
Netflix commissioned a second order for the series, which was called “MST3K: The Gauntlet,” and it also met with critical praise, including another coveted Rotten Tomatoes “100% Fresh” review.
Joel is currently the Chief Creative Officer of his company 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 on Dark Horse Comics.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour is presented as part of the Broadway San Jose 2019–20 season.
Broadway San Jose is a partnership between the Nederlander organization of New York and Team San Jose, the managing entity for San Jose’s publicly-held performance venues and civic centers.