The episode: “12 to the Moon,” ep. 524
The riff: Opined by Mike during a quick shot of a black, bearded astronaut as he straps himself into a rocket and prepares to blast off for the moon.
The explanation: The character in the film bears a pretty close resemblance to Rosey Grier, a stand-out defensive lineman in the NFL. Grier was known as something of a lovable oddball in his career, and had a bevy of unusual hobbies, which included needlepoint and knitting. He starred in a number of MST3k-worthy movies after his football career ended, such as “The Thing With Two Heads.”
Novelty factor: I knew who Grier was, but nothing about his knitting hobby. This is a good example of a riff that requires you to have a lot of information and deduce multiple things very quickly. The shot of the Grier look-a-like is on screen for only a moment when knitting is mentioned, and to understand the joke you have to first make the physical comparison, and then know that Grier was into needlepoint.