Every Comedy has Controversy

My favorite comedies are engrained with elements of the truth, which often leads to uncomfortable confrontations. These confrontations often stem from the “victim” being forced to reconcile or even acknowledge something uncomfortable or unpleasant. It is with themselves the problem lies, yet it’s so easy to blame the ones who present this information.

Especially when the comedy is as blunt as it is on MST3K.

Mystery Science Theater 3000’s reputation of holding no punches is accurate, and many times the actors and/or direction is criticized in a way that would leave Winston Churchill and Lenny Bruce rolling in their graves. The humor could be directed at appearance, (lack of) acting skills and just downright awful attempts at making movies. And that’s exactly the kind of humor which can easily become interpreted as personal attacks. I go crazy for these kinds of behind-the-scenes stories, but while it’s kind of a sadistic pleasure to search for angry responses to the show, it surprised me greatly to see how little animosity there actually was towards the show. 

The main point of this post is to try and find out why so few people responded with malice and torches etc. There are plenty of reasons that support this, but in my opinion, the main reason why MST3K never needed to worry about hate mail came with the end credits; they thanked the authors of the First Amendment. 

It’s tongue in cheek, potentially sarcastic and ultimately, an extremely bold statement that makes one think about it. The way MST3K got away with a lot of what was said came from a reminder that everyone has the right to speak about something, even if it is criticism, and the interesting thing is that they didn’t say that specifically, they didn’t get all “preachy” about people’s rights or hung up on their own opinions— they simply thanked them. 

If you have an idea of why MST3K would have been able to escape the criticisms other comedies raise, leave a message in the comments.



7 responses to “Every Comedy has Controversy”

  1. Kelcie Willis says :

    I imagine the specific people/camps may not have been too happy about being made fun of or parodied, but it seems like the show is the type to have a small cult following, even from the time it originally aired. So compared to maybe South Park, it’s content may have been over shadowed.

    Shout out to Evan – it won a Peabody (back in the day)!

    • hauntedtorgo says :

      Yes, I agree! While South Park was more overt in its humor, it definitely was more brash and cartoony than the live-action films often made by people who were unable to see just how bad the films were.

  2. nathanritch says :

    I really enjoyed this post. As a new comer to MST3k, having just discovered it in the past year, I find it interesting that you say their was little backlash to the show. I also never realized that they thanked the First Amendment in the closing credits so thanks for pointing that out. My personal theory about why their were so few cases of behind the scenes animosity stems from the fact that many of the mistakes made in these films are essentially indefensible, so that the creators would be put into a possition of either laughing along with the crew or being more embarassed by trying to defend the final product.

  3. Jeff says :

    I can’t say I have watched MST3K, but it is interesting how there never really was backlash with creators of films being made fun of on the show. If the movies being parodied really were that bad, maybe the creators were fine with any kind of attention their stuff got. Maybe the creators of these films were just not too worried about “some goofy show” like this.

  4. tavisgray says :

    I think you make a good point about the best comedies being engrained with truth, and I think that applies to story-telling in general. I’d say that people didn’t respond with those torches because if they had, they would likely have been antagonized by the public or the media for not allowing a comedy to have a little fun or be humble enough to see themselves made fun of.

  5. darbyceleste says :

    Like other people have mentioned, I immediately thought of South Park when reading about the humor in MST3K. South Park is such a well known show that in certain ways, it is an honor to be mentioned on the show and mocked. Like Jeff mentioned, I wonder if the film creators enjoyed the fact that they were noticed by a show such as MST3K and were chosen to be focused point. Unfortunately, I have never seen this show so I do not know much about it’s humor. It’s humor they have chosen for the show seems unique, so I will definitely be checking it out soon!

  6. allief199 says :

    It’s always amazing to see what types of things Networks and writers can get away with! You never know how people will react especially when someone is the butt of a satirical joke. I do think it’s always great to be noticed and stand out from the crowd however, but do agree that some people can take jokes too far. I’d be interested in watching this episode and checking out the humor for myself!

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