Screenshot from MST3K: The Movie (1996)
In 1988, MysteryScience Theater 3000 (usually shortened to MST3K by its fans) started airing on KTMA in Minneapolis, Minn. The show, which consisted of a team of comedians watching and making fun of bad vintage movies, was so popular it eventually made syndication on Comedy Central before its cancellation in 1999. You may not have heard of MST3K, but you may be familiar with what they do, as they pioneered the pastime of "riffing" on bad movies for entertainment. While finished, the show has gained a cult following over the years.
Screenshot from a viewing of Parts: The Clonus Horror (1997)
So where’s Stout in this obscure little piece of television? Mike J. Nelson, one of the head writers on the show, eventually replaced a role played by series creator Joel Robinson. Beginning in Episode 512, Mike J. Nelson began playing a fictional version of himself, hosting the show, in which Mike apparently went to UW-Stout before finding himself stuck on a satellite orbiting the earth, forced to watch bad movies with wisecracking robots (The actual Mike J. Nelson attended UW-River Falls). Stout is mentioned in the show once or twice due to this. The most famous reference is Mike's character wearing a UW-Stout shirt in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. In another episode during a viewing of "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Died and Became Mixed-up Zombies," (yes, that is an actual movie title) when a character wakes up in a cold sweat, one of the robots quips, “Look familiar Mike? Morning after the UW-Stout Spring Fling?”
No word on if UW-Stout ever plans to offer a degree in making fun of movies!
by Abby Anderson
Screenshot from a viewing of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Died and Became Mixed-up Zombies (1997)