70. “Gymkata!”

The episode:Fugitive Alien,” ep. 310

The riff: Exclaimed by Joel as the movie’s wig-wearing alien heroes/villains (it’s simultaneous) do a lot of destructive flips and smash things to bits.

The explanation: It’s a reference to a rather obscure film of the same name. “Gymkata” was released in 1985, six years before this episode, and starred real-life Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas as Jonathan Cabot, the developer of a new martial art that blends the movements of gymnastics with the deadliness of getting punched right in the face. The film was not a commercial success at the time of its release, but became something of a minor cult classic over time for its complete ridiculousness.

Novelty factor: I actually heard of “Gymkata” for the first time recently, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear a reference to it in a riff. I had penciled it in as a possibility for one of my own future bad movie nights, but this pretty much seals the deal. And as it turns out, it was a very popular reference for Joel and the Bots–according to Annotated MST3k, this is only one of seven episodes with “Gymkata” riffs. Can’t wait to see this movie.

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