Riffs that haven't aged well

I watched Bride of the Monster last night, which has the great musical number based on the Hired short. But that’s not what I’m posting about. Bride of the Monster (the movie) was directed by Ed Wood, who was a cross-dresser. Now, usually, MST3K (especially in the Joel and Jonah eras) punches up more than down, but in this episode, there were a couple of trans jokes made at Ed Wood’s expense, which was disappointing, though sadly not unusual at that time.

By “riffs that haven’t aged well”, I’m not just talking trans jokes. It could be very topical references from the '90s modern audiences don’t get. It’s usually not a problem for me, but occasionally, something comes up that makes me go “Whoa!” or “That’s old.”


The Bob Packwood jokes are pretty funny, but not too many people get them today. Also “John Sununu goes for a haircut” in The Starfighters.


I’m not bothered by an “expired” riff just because it’s about someone who was popular in the past. As a kid, one of my favorite parts of watching Looney Tunes was my Silent Gen dad explaining to me who people like The Great Gildersleeve were. Or what “So round, so firm, so fully packed!” was really a reference to.

Now there’s the internet, so if your dad’s not home you can investigate on your own.

Humor becomes a free-wheeling historical record of people and ideas that aren’t around anymore.

That said, one of the Gamera movies had a riff of, “There’s a little Nip in the air,” which… no. I’m glad they didn’t do that again.


I can’t think of any right now. Hmm.


Yeah, I rewatched Bride of the Monster recently and had much the same thought. It’s not just one or two jokes either, it’s like they couldn’t let go of it. The jokes about Bela Lugosi’s addictions struck me as a little off colour too.

They all felt so unnecessary as well - there was enough in the movie itself to make hay with that there really seemed no reason to delve into the personal lives of those who made it.

I suppose it’s one of the perils of watching anything made for it’s own time thirty years down the line. The bounds of what is socially acceptable change and some things can make for uncomfortable viewing. Not to absolve people of responsibility, but I’m confident noone involved with MST3K would be making the same kinds of riffs today.


I want to add that I find the hypocrisy of a lot of the riffs in Soultaker to be off the charts. Really irksome if not actually offensive. The guys leer for a whole sub-segment at the heroine in the bath scene, but then they also mock her for writing herself -what?- one or two lines where her paramour says, “You’re beautiful.” Feh.

I saw their opinion of her really bleed into the fandom, too. Someone called her a Mary Sue, and… no. The whole driver of the movie’s plot is that only her family and her dueling suitors really love her. No one else does. She’s much more a traditional damsel in distress than a modernized action hero.


She’s hardly the first person to write their own starring vehicle - some of whom have won Oscars.


The ongoing Larry Csonka bit in Final Sacrifice comes to mind- it wasn’t until I watched the annotated version on YouTube that I had any clue who the heck that was. I just accepted not knowing for years.

But you raise a good point with Looney Tunes- how often do they use a Peter Lorre impression that people aren’t so likely to get?


There’s a Shake-A-Pudd’n reference in Being from Another Planet that was probably horribly aged at the time of the episode’s broadcast (I’m an 80s child, and I had no idea what the hell Joel was referring to), but it’s still hilarious for reasons I can’t entirely figure out.


I love topical humor – not to be confused with tropical humor – but it comes with a limited shelf life. I believe the container is even dated. SCTV is one of my favorites, but it was almost all topical, and even the skits based on traditional local TV programming would have no context to young viewers now. It’s particularly true when the ‘joke’ is just a reference to something familiar.

Having said that, one of my favorites is in Earth vs. the Spider when Crow starts chanting “Wait for da beep! Wait for da beep!”


I never lived in the Midwest, so I have no idea if the Menards references in The Deadly Mantis, The Undead, and The Giant Spider Invasion count.

That being said, I love the HELL out of those Menards references, and I wish they used more during the Sci-Fi era.


[nod] It’s not a good movie, but plot-wise it holds together better as a story than many other movies we’ve seen on the show. I’m inclined to think that one reason is her script.


Menard’s is still a thing, and they opened locations in the St. Louis area before I moved to the East Coast a few years ago. Definitely no Menard’s out here.


Pretty much any Japanese film they did had some racist elements to them, quite jarring for today’s audience for sure.


It was an absurd idea for a product and I think it hung around about a week. :smiley: There are whole Halls Of Shame online for advertising fiascos like that.

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Crow shouting “Lovely!” A reference to ‘Frenzy’?! It always creeps me out.

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Yeah, Menards is still up and about and all, but I meant that I didn’t know if they still circulated ads in the vein of “it’s a ___________ of savings at Menards!” or some such deal.

Stuff like this:

Ray Szmanda, the guy that the MST3K gang references in those Menards riffs, passed away in 2018, but I wasn’t sure if Menards still ran ads in that “something something something SAVINGS AT MENARDS!!!” style.

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Heh! Not surprised at all that Shake-A-Pudd’n was a flash-in-the-pan kinda thing!

Yeah, something like that would have “fiasco” written all over it, no?

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I live right by a Menards. I say, “it’s a giant spider invasion of savings at Menards” when I pass it.



Mad respect. It would feel wrong not to say “It’s a Giant Spider Invasion of savings at MENARDS!!!” when passing it.