Today I learned ...

I love that I will never get all the riffs … what seemed like just a funny line for 30 years is actually a quote from a movie I haven’t seen, or a reference to a TV show I never caught in reruns, or some such thing.

Have your eyes been opened to a riff recently? Share it below!

Today I learned: The riff “you stupid zinj” by Joel in Eegah refers to Zinjanthropus boisei, the former classification of a Pleistocene era hominid.


That’s a good question (and subject) - yeah it’s great when you get a fresh laugh from an old episode.

I know it has happened, but I can’t recollect a recent example of it. Sometimes it is not that it’s obscure… I’ve always liked (and everyone knows about) noir for example - but this year I watched a LOT of film noir, so when I revisited Amazing Colossal Man and someone threw out the line “Hospital noir” (because the lighting in that scene was very noirish), I got a brand new big laugh out of a quip I never really paid attention to before.

As to the esoteric, I’ll think on this and see if any spring to mind.


I will say that the “Brontosaurus might be real” riffs in Rifftrax (I think in Dinosaurus) and MST3K (Beast of Hollow Mountain) are remarkably decent representations of the scientific situation. Also, some of the Arachnia science riffs are quite convincing. Not perfect, but the Rifftrax writers are went hard-core!

Still, every time I hear Mike say “gavial” instead of “gharial” I cringe.


I’m adding this to the website. Okay if I give you credit?

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I had to do some digging and actually found it here, so credit should go to Crouching_Penn_Hidden_Teller.


It me several years after first watching The Crawling Eye to realize that I had seen the actress who portrays Anne Pilgrim before as Roberta in the Disney adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson.


Two riffs that had been going over my head for years because I hadn’t seen the movie they reference happen in a bunch of MST3K and RiffTrax episodes:

  1. der weiße Engel (I kept trying to look it up phonetically, but y’know … German pronunciation.)
  2. “Is it safe?”

I never got the “Hamdingers” reference until I joined this board and it was mentioned in another thread, accompanied by a picture of the canned meat product from the '70s that was available in the upper midwest. A quick google found the following:

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Here’s a fun one: Today I learned that Alexander Phipps named a Yes album.

In 1985, the band Yes released a live album and video from their 90125 tour called 9012Live, directed by Steven Soderbergh. At the beginning and end of the video were clips from the short Young Man’s Fancy (a section that was cut from the MST3K version) in which Alex mentions “the rhythm of big generators.”

Yes named their next album Big Generator (1987).


Today I learned that “legs made of gold” Babs from Horrors of Spider Island (Barbara Valentin) was Freddie Mercury’s companion (or lover, according to some rumors) late in his life.


As I mentioned during the livestream, I just watched Chinatown for the first time last month, and so while watching Manos again I finally got the line “She’s my sister, she’s my daughter!” while one of the wives is getting slapped.


I was just rewatching Angels Revenge in the Gizmoplex. Around the 50 minute mark, there’s a scene at a beach. In the movie, Jack Palance plays a drug kingpin. In the scene, two of his unnamed thugs are posing as fishermen, waiting to pick up a shipment of drugs. Our heroes, looking to steal the shipment before it hits the street, are posing as a bevy of beautiful beach bunnies. One of the thugs goes to chase the women off so they won’t witness the drug shipment come in, but he’s more interested in chasing their tails. He’s also comically (or at least, that’s the writers’ intention…) dimwitted.

There’s a riff about him being Sandy Hackett. AnnotatedMST tells me that’s Buddy Hackett’s lesser-known son, also a comedian. I don’t know what made the MST crew think of him, but I decided to go to IMDB to find out if that actually was Sandy Hackett. I had to scroll down a fair way to find the credit, but it turns out that actor is, in fact… Cody Palance, Jack Palance’s lesser-known son.

ETA: Nope. I was wrong. Sorry. The two fishermen characters are named Joe and Billy, and Billy is played by Ralph Harris. Cody Palance shows up at the end of the scene, when the guys in the boat dropping off the drugs come to shore and get beaten up. Cody’s the one who goes to take the drug-filled buoy back and gets drop kicked. He’s credited because (unlike the rest of the beach thugs) he has a spoken line. “I’ll get the merchandise.”


Growing up, we had a grand total of three (sometimes four) TV stations. We never had cable, and I’m a major wimp when it comes to scary movies so I haven’t seen many of them. I’m also a bit younger than the guys on the show so there are a ton of references in the riffs that introduced me to things I never knew before watching the show. This includes movies, books, songs and people.

For example, the “Who’s trilling? Maybe it’s Lionel Trilling.” riffs that came up on occasion got me to look up Lionel Trilling, an essayist and critic.

The Intellectual Bikers sketch got me to look up the Algonquin Round Table.