I’ve loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 since I was 11 years old. This should come as a shock to exactly no one who’s ever spent any significant amount of time with me. I discovered it on Sunday mornings on Comedy Central in 1996, and was instantly hooked. Anyway, I fell in love with the show, even when I didn’t get most of the references. Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, and the Bots were funny as hell, and even my eight year old sister now gets a chuckle out of some bits from the show, and it stopped production over year before she was born.
My discovery of MST3K was also around the time my Mom’s cancer, which she’d been fighting for years, really started to get the better of her. This was a miserable time in my life, as I remember very vividly being in denial about how sick my Mom was. When my Dad told me that things weren’t looking so great, I remember lying awake in bed that night, worried sick. Then I thought to myself, nothing is going to happen. My Mom has been around my whole life, and that’s not going to change, I thought. Call it hope, call it denial, whatever, I was certain that this wasn’t changing.
I was quite wrong. My Mom died on February 1, 1997. Almost twelve years later, I have memories of that entire horrible week that are so vivid, they may as well have happened yesterday. I tried to put on a brave face, but it was all an act. I was wrecked.
Some months later, my brother and I were watching our VHS copy of MST3K Episode 513, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die. My Dad was watching it with us. We were all laughing, and, to be completely honest, it is the first time I can really remember laughing after my Mom’s death. My Dad, after the show finished, asked if they sold any more episodes of MST3K on VHS. They did, we told him, so in to the car and off to Borders we went, where we picked up Episode 301, Cave Dwellers, and what may be my all time favorite, Episode 303, Pod People. We got home, watched both episodes, and laughed so hard our sides ached. It was, to this day, one of the best nights of my life.
Over the next couple years, MST3K became a staple for my family. We taped each episode on the Sci-Fi Channel and watched them as a family, and laughed and laughed and laughed. We probably haven’t done this now in about eight years, and I really want to get my brother and Dad and I together and watch one again, for old time’s sake.
I know this is going to sound cheesy, but my point is this: MST3K was one of the first things that made me feel human again after my Mom’s death. I laughed my ass off at that show, and it felt good. The best laughs a person can ever have are the ones that come out they feel they are at their lowest point. I really needed to laugh then. MST3K helped make me feel good again, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.