Few people love bad movies like Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett love bad movies--you know, movies that are "so bad, they're good"? The pair is known for their work on the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, and now are part of the team that creates RiffTrax--downloadable commentaries that you play along with a cheesy or shlocky film to create the sense that you're hanging out with your friends and making fun of the movie. Only your friends are professional comedians.
Kevin and Bill joined Ask Me Another at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota to take part in one of our favorite games, "This, That or The Other." In this edition, led by house musician Jonathan Coulton, Kevin and Bill go head to head to guess whether hilarities such as "War With the Mutant Spider Ants" or "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats" are movie titles, Choose Your Own Adventure book titles, or Weekly World News tabloid headlines.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and we are live from St. Paul, Minnesota, the home of the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.
EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll choose our own adventures, plus we'll put "Orange is the New Black" author Piper Kerman in the puzzle hot seat.
EISENBERG: Let's say hello to our next two contestants. They were writers and performers on the cult TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
EISENBERG: And they continue to make fun of bad movies for our enjoyment with RiffTrax, please welcome Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.
BILL CORBETT: Hello.
KEVIN MURPHY: Hello, folks.
CORBETT: There's nothing like a hometown crowd.
EISENBERG: They love you. Oh, yeah.
MURPHY: Can I just go home now? It's not going to get any better than that.
CORBETT: Great greeting.
EISENBERG: We are thrilled to have you. To begin with, just for anyone who doesn't know, what is RiffTrax?
MURPHY: We do film commentary except we try to make it funny. Essentially watch an entire film...
MURPHY: ...or a short or a long film, or a current feature and we do a commentary track in which we try to make fun of whoever's on. I'm making this sound really dry and boring.
CORBETT: Yeah, you really - the key word here is try to make it funny.
MURPHY: That's right. We attempt. We dare.
CORBETT: We actually succeed occasionally.
MURPHY: We do.
EISENBERG: And then I can take this-I download this and I use it...
CORBETT: Download, yeah.
EISENBERG: ...for my own enjoyment.
MURPHY: That's right. Yeah.
CORBETT: And the enjoyment of others, Ophira.
EISENBERG: I see.
EISENBERG: I can have friends, still, is that what you're saying? Hello.
CORBETT: You can have friends.
EISENBERG: So when you're in a movie theater watching movies just for pleasure do y9ou have to stop yourself, hold back from just yelling out all kinds of...
CORBETT: No. I'm actually kind of a prig about that. I don't like talking in the theaters.
CORBETT: I tend to shush people who are like me.
EISENBERG: Oh, yes.
MURPHY: I'm the same way. When you pay money to actually hear the movie that's fine. When you pay money to hear us, then we will let fly.
EISENBERG: This game is one of Jonathan's favorites. It's called This, That, or the Other.
JONATHAN COULTON: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Oh, boy.
COULTON: I do like this game and it is among the goofiest trivia games one can play. So Kevin and Bill, I'm going to name an item and all you have to do is tell me which of three categories that item belongs in. Because of your particular areas of expertise, today's categories are: Weekly World News Headlines, Choose Your Own Adventure Books, or Actual Movie Titles.
COULTON: Of those of you who are unfamiliar with some of these categories, the Weekly World News was a supermarket tabloid that specialized in articles about aliens, the Loch Ness monster, Elvis sightings, and it now lives on as a website. The Choose Your Own Adventure books were a popular children's book series from the '80s and '90s in which the reader could make decisions that affected the outcome of the story. And Titles of Movies are titles of movies.
COULTON: We're going to alternate questions between Kevin and Bill so there's no need to buzz in and just tell us is it a Weekly World News Headline, a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or an actual movie. And the winner will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Are you ready?
COULTON: OK. We're going to start with Bill. Bill, "Purple Squirrels on the Rampage."
CORBETT: I want it to be a movie but I don't think it is. Choose Your Own Adventure.
COULTON: No, I'm sorry. It's a Weekly World News headline.
CORBETT: See, the word rampage is key here.
COULTON: Yeah. It could be anywhere, I guess. OK. Kevin.
COULTON: "Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town."
MURPHY: Wow. That's got to be a movie.
COULTON: That is a movie. That's correct.
EISENBERG: I auditioned. Did not get a callback.
COULTON: Were you going to be a chopper chick or a zombie?
EISENBERG: A zombie.
COULTON: All right. Try for the sequel which is Zombie Chicks and Chopper Top.
COULTON: OK, Bill. "Prisoner of the Ant People." It's hard, right? Could be anything.
COULTON: No. I'm sorry.
CORBETT: Oh, I stink at this!
COULTON: It's a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
EISENBERG: It does sound like the worst adventure of all time.
EISENBERG: It's like of the ant people? We'll just - I...
CORBETT: Right. What kid chose that?
COULTON: OK. Kevin, "The Dracula Fish Returns."
MURPHY: Weekly World News.
COULTON: Yeah. That's right.
MURPHY: Oh, man.
COULTON: OK. Bill, "War with the Mutant Spider Ants."
COULTON: It's a Choose Your Own Adventure.
CORBETT: The adventure I chose was Great Shame.
CORBETT: Are you sure you didn't pick from Choose Your Own Nightmare?
COULTON: If you want to answer this question wrong, turn to page four. OK, Kevin. "Death Bed: The Bed that Eats."
MURPHY: I-there's been a lot of Weekly World News and it does sound like a title with a colon in it so I'm going to go for a movie.
COULTON: You're right. It's a movie.
CORBETT: You had to get that right, didn't you?
COULTON: It does seem like you can rule out Choose Your Own Adventure on that one.
COULTON: Right before bed.
MURPHY: The Bed that Eats?
MURPHY: Just like...
COULTON: All right. Bill, "Surfer Ghost."
EISENBERG: Oh, no. Oh, no.
COULTON: I know; you're very gun shy. I can tell.
CORBETT: I am. Yeah. I've been wounded. Weekly World News?
COULTON: You got it!
CORBETT: King of the world!
COULTON: OK, Kevin. "The San Diego Chulapa Monster."
MURPHY: Chulapa. Oh, I know about this monster and I believe this would be Weekly World News.
COULTON: Yes, that's right.
COULTON: OK. This is your last set of questions.
CORBETT: Oh, thank god.
COULTON: OK. Bill, "The Great Zopper Toothpaste Treasure."
CORBETT: Choose Your Own Adventure.
COULTON: That's right!
CORBETT: Oh, thank god.
CORBETT: I'm back, ladies and gentlemen.
COULTON: OK, Kevin. "Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx."
MURPHY: You know, I'm seeing Mathew Broderick here. I'm going with movie.
COULTON: It is a movie.
COULTON: Starring Gene Wilder as Quackser Fortune.
COULTON: Gene Wilder, right in between "The Producers" and "Willy Wonka."
EISENBERG: A little art movie.
COULTON: A little art movie. "Quackser Fortune." Well, our long national nightmare is over. Art Chung.
ART CHUNG: Yes.
COULTON: Puzzle guru. What happened in that game?
CHUNG: Well, we found out that Kevin has a subscription to the Weekly World News.
CHUNG: Because he is our winner.
EISENBERG: So great having you both on stage. Kevin, you're going to be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show, but let's have a huge hand for Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.
CORBETT: Thank you, everybody.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1999") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.