10/31/07

Dramatis Personae: Rifftrax Edition

Michael J. Nelson: The Master Riffer. Mike is host of the movie-mocking podcast. He was head writer for Mystery Science Theater 3000 for most of the show and replaced Joel Hodson as host for the latter half of its run. Rifftrax is his baby, and he’s featured in every single one of them. Edit: Except for the ones featured in Rifftrax Presents, a series of riffs defined by his non-presence.



Kevin Murphy: Another MST3K alumnus, Kevin did puppeteer duty as Tom Servo from MST3K Season Two through the end of the show. He is the most prolific guest riffer, appearing in more Rifftrax than any other guest.





Bill Corbett: Bill comes from MST3K as well, having puppeteered Crow for the last three seasons. He doesn’t appear quite as frequently as Kevin, but still has quite a few Rifftrax under his belt.





Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka: Lowtax, of course, runs the (in)famous online humor site, SomethingAwful.com. To date, he has only appeared in the Rifftrax for the very troll-less Troll 2.



Chad Vader: A Day Shift grocery store manager by day, but by night, um... I think he's a Day Shift grocery store manager by night too; the only difference being that "by night", he's off duty. Darth's younger brother has inherited his brother's awesome Force powers and awesome life support suit (complete with James Earl Jones-esque voice-altering technology), but not his awesome sinister machismo. This pathetic coat-tail rider tags along with the Rifftrax crew to add his insights to the riffs for Episodes II and V of the Star Wars series.


Neil Patrick Harris: Star of screen and, um, bigger screen I guess, Neil is best known for his television work, beginning with his breakout role as Doogie Howser M.D., moving up to his current project, the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. He appears in the Rifftrax for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.



Mary Jo Pehl: Formerly known as Pearl Forrester, the bad guy during the later years of MST3K. Mary Jo only appeared in one Rifftrax (Glitter) before jumping ship to Cinematic Titanic, but she returns occasionally to vex Bill Corbett, as seen, er, heard in X-Files: Fight the Future.





Bridget Nelson: Wife of Michael J. Nelson, former writer/performer on MST3K, best known for her bit parts as Mr. B Natural and Nuveena: Woman of the Future. Bridget has appeared in two Rifftrax—the ultra-girly Grey’s Anatomy and the Nicolas Cage train wreck Next.





Fred Willard: Comedian, improv champ, and film and television star Fred Willard (best known for his work in the semi-improvised comedies of Christopher Guest) joins Rifftrax for the (and I use the term loosely) classic SciFi adventure, Missile to the Moon.





"Weird Al" Yankovic:This singer, actor, comedian, director and all around bon vivant is most famous for his phenomenal success parodying the most popular songs of the last four decades. Aside from that, however, you'd be hard pressed to find anything else that's weird about him. In fact, he might just be the most normal person working in Hollywood. Al joins Mike to mock Jurassic Park for the second time of his career.



James Lileks: I had not heard of Mr. Lileks before he appeared on Rifftrax's short list of Very Special Guest Stars, but he is apparently a blogger, columnist, writer and humorist of some renown. Look for him on the commentary track for Spider-Man 3.








Matthew J. Elliott: I had not heard of Matthew Elliott either, but here he is, providing solo commentaries for the newly established line of non-Mike riffs in Rifftrax Presents. By day, Mr. Elliott is an editor and author of mystery novels, and a performer of radio dramas. By night, he possesses the calmest, sanest voice to appear on Rifftrax thus far. Look for him on the commentary tracks for Dark Water and House of Wax.



Richard Cheese: Vegas crooner Richard Cheese will sing anything to a swingin' lounge beat, including (but not limited to) the songs of Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Sir Mixalot. Mr. Cheese's music is featured on the soundtrack of Ocean's Eleven; his speaking voice is featured on the Rifftrax for same.







Josh Fruhlinger: Mr. Fruhlinger's surname seems to demand an umlaut, but doesn't actually have one. More significantly, he runs a website called The Comics Curmudgeon, where he spends every day mocking the criminally unfunny denizens of the newspaper comics page. Years of following the drawn out non-drama of newspaper Spider-Man's non-adventures have apparently driven him into an unholy pact with the folks at Rifftrax. Look for him on the commentary for Spider-Man 2.





Janet Varney: Ms. Varney is a comedienne and actress (Is that PC? Should I have said "comedian and actor"?) best known for co-hosting TBS Dinner and a Movie, and co-creating the SF Sketchfest. She plays recurring characters on several TV shows, as well as (according to imdb.com) a woman named "Fishtickle" in an upcoming skateboarding movie. In my mind, it's that last one that most qualifies her to co-write and co-perform the Rifftrax Presents commentaries for Dirty Dancing and Ghost.




Cole Stratton: Mr. Stratton is an improv/sketch comedy specialist who co-created the SF Sketchfest and has occasionally appeared on Nash Bridges, but beyond that, I know very little about him. If I told you that he's a three-time pinewood derby champion with false teeth and a fondness for butternut squash, I would probably be lying, but since I don't really know, I can't say that for sure either. The one thing I can say for sure is that he co-wrote and co-performed the Rifftrax Presents commentaries for Dirty Dancing and Ghost.


Jonathan Coulton: Like most internet troubadours, Mr. Coulton's music tends toward the nerd-themed. Unlike most internet troubadours, though, people outside the internet have heard of him. Popular tunes include his acoustic remix of Baby Got Back and the zombie-themed Re: Your Brains. He is best known, however, for writing the best video game theme song ever. Mr. Coulton appears in the Rifftrax Presents commentary for the (theoretically) nerd-themed Tron.





Paul & Storm: Paul Sabourin and Greg "Storm" DiCostanzo are, technically, separate people, but since they never pose for photos separately (according to Google image search, anyway) they only get one entry. Messrs. Paul and Storm are an internet/geek community comedy singing sensation, having sung many, many funny hits that I don't know about. (A deficiency on my part, I admit. I intend to rectify this shortly). Paul and Storm join Jonathan Coulton for the Rifftrax Presents commentary for Tron.

Joel McHale: Mr. McHale is the actor/comedian currently tasked with making fun of reality shows and similar ilk on E! Network's The Soup, a very funny show marred only by the presence of the horrifying Mankini. Mr. McHale does other stuff sometimes too, as evidenced by his imdb page, and his appearance in the Rifftrax commentary for the legendary Swayze/Sheen action/drama, Red/Dawn... Sorry, I mean Red Dawn.




Matt Sloan & Aaron Yonda: Like Paul & Storm, Mssrs. Sloan and Yonda get lumped together for the purposes of this guide. (Don't feel bad, guys. I'd do the same to Shields & Yarnell.) Sloan and Yonda are the evil masterminds of Blame Society, the production company behind Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. Chad, it's worth nothing, is a fictional character, but this has not stopped him from appearing in previous commentaries with the core Rifftrax gang. Matt, Aaron and Chad set out on their own with the Rifftrax Presents commentary for Running Man.


That Guy With The Glasses: That Guy With The Glasses (also known as Doug Walker) won the first iRiffs contest with his riff for The Lion King (unreviewed by me) and was thereafter awarded a spot in the prestigious Rifftrax Presents lineup. He's best known in internet circles for his pop-culture website ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, and for creating the Rifftrax Presents commentary for Batman Forever. Co-riffers Brian Heinz and Rob Walker are not That Guy With The Glasses, but are known in internet circles for basically the same things.


Veronica Belmont: Though Veronica Belmont is best known for co-hosting the internet technology review show Tekzilla, imdb.com tells me that she also once appeared in a documentary called Vampire Secrets as a character named Virgin #5. Having seen neither of the above-mentioned works, the first time I heard of her was when she hosted the first annual Rifftrax Live broadcast. Shortly thereafter, she appeared in the commentary for the Rifftrax Short, American Thrift.