The episode: “Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance,” the short in front of “Red Zone Cuba,” ep. 619
The riff: Asked quizzically by Mike after the title card passes.
The explanation: Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs around the world that focus on teaching public speaking and communication. They operate speech contests, tutorials and do video series on overcoming speech anxiety and the like.
Novelty factor: I’d never heard of the organization before, but I find its name amusing. I guess he added “ancient” because it’s an older, black and white film, but it strikes me as an odd choice of words.
The episode: “Out of This World,” the short in front of “High School Big Shot,” ep. 618
The riff: Inserted by Mike as an angel and devil quarrel amongst the celestial bureaucracy, with the devil saying “Of course if you’re afraid…”
The explanation: I believe Mike is referring to the devil’s voice pitch and tone more than the actual line in this comparison to the character of Dr. Zachary Smith from “Lost in Space.” In the original 1965-1968 series, Dr. Smith, as played by Jonathan Harris, was the show’s main, bumbling antagonist. He was known for his short temper and propensity to verbally abuse everyone around him, particularly The Robot, in long, alliterative sentences. This is mocked in a different MST3k bit, when Crow does an extended Dr. Smith impression.
Novelty factor: I didn’t actually recognize it when I heard it, largely because I never saw any re-runs of the original “Lost in Space,” nor the 1998 movie. I realize now that most of my knowledge of it is probably from other MST3k references.
The episode: “Are You Ready for Marriage?“, the short in front of “Racket Girls,” ep. 616
The riff: Said with a small degree of worry by Crow as a young man walks away from a home after his rather tepid date with a young woman.
The explanation: He appears to be implying that the guy is like Richard Loeb, a convicted killer who along with Nathan Leopold, killed 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924 Chicago. The pair were wealthy students and lovers who concocted the plan to abduct and hold the boy for ransom, but also both admitted later that they wanted to kill for the thrill of committing the “perfect crime.” Their efforts weren’t so perfect, however, as a pair of eyeglasses left at the scene of the body (WTF?) eventually led back to Leopold. The pair were convicted in a media circus trial. Loeb was killed in prison and Leopold was released in 1958.
Novelty factor: No way I could have known this one, but I found it more interesting than many of the riffs I’ve looked up. Some seriously dark territory here.
The episode: “Keeping Clean and Neat,” the short in front of “The Sinister Urge,” ep. 613
The riff: Squealed in a high-pitched, manic voice as a boy bares his teeth to examine them in the bathroom mirror.
The explanation: Crow is doing an impression of Pee-wee Herman, specifically a short bit from Herman’s first feature film, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” In the scene, during the extended whimsical “Pee-wee at home” segment, he brushes his teeth in the morning, then bares them and yells “mad dog!”, referencing the foam and its similarity to a frothing dog suffering from rabies.
Novelty factor: I have to admit that I have a great fondness for “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” It’s an exceedingly weird movie that has much in common with Tim Burton’s next directorial effort, “Beetlejuice.”
The episode: “A Young Man’s Fancy,” the short in front of “The Violent Years,” ep. 610
The riff: Sarcastically inserted as dialog after a young girl ironing clothes begins a question with “Mother…?”
The explanation: More accurately, it’s spacetime and not space that is supposedly curved. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the curvature of spacetime describes the connection between physical, three-dimensional space the fourth dimension, time. He theorized that as one approaches the speed of light, it becomes easier to see the link between space and time. He also theorized a few other things that I would have great difficulty understanding or summarizing on a blog dedicated to jokes from a 25-year-old TV show.
Novelty factor: I got the general gist of what they were asking. I can’t pretend to be an expert in Einstein field equations, but I get as much as the average layman.
The episode: “Why Study Industrial Arts?” the short in front of “The Skydivers,” ep. 609
The riff: Spoken by Mike in a rather nerdy, pipsqueak voice as two young, 1950s-looking white kids work in shop class and one asks “Hey, are you making this?”
The explanation: The title of “Grand Wizard” was traditionally regarded as the highest ranking officer in the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan. In actuality, though, the title was only heard by the first Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, for two years from 1867-1869. Later, in the Klan’s second era as a “social organization,” there was a procession of “Imperial Wizards” who served as the highest ranking officials. Nevertheless, many have since claimed the title of “Grand Wizard” without any national recognition as such.
Novelty factor: I knew of the title, but I had no idea of the complex history behind it. I also knew the “Grand Wizard of Wrestling” as the title of famed wrestling manager Ernie Roth.
Note: Enjoy this wannabe’s insane, anti-Semitic rambling.
The episode: “A Day at the Fair,” the short in front of “Code Name: Diamond Head,” ep. 608
The riff: Spoken in a tone imitating the short’s narrator as “Brother Bob” peruses an exhibit on butterflies and moths.
The explanation: Only a few days after a joke about “Jame Gumb” from “Silence of the Lambs,” here’s another joke about the same character. In the book and the film, Gumb/Buffalo Bill, the killer, puts Death’s Head Moths in the throats of his victims as a symbol of the metamorphosis he is trying to undergo himself.
Novelty factor: Weird coincidence having these jokes show up within a week of one another. As I said before, I’ve read the book and love the movie, so this was obvious to me.