By Loryn Stone
At first, I could have sworn that a Motivation Meme Bot was following me.
When I discovered via Twitter that there was a huge crew of very active Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, I felt the warm and fuzzies on the inside. But as I kept my eyes open and saw the same names joking and laughing together, I finally found the fans I was looking for- everyone was so nice. Among the group of amazing people, one man seemed to lead with effortless optimism. He’s kind. He’s caring.
And he makes a damn funny meme using our favorite MST3K characters to motivate us.
Today on PopLurker, we’re going to get to know Kevin Smith, the devoted MST3K fan who just wants to see everyone do their best in life.
Even if it takes a little extra motivation.
Hi Kevin! Thank you so much for letting PopLurker showcase you today! We’re so excited for the chance to interview you. Let’s start from the beginning. Who are you and what is your background?
It’s an honor to be asked! My name is Kevin and I’m from central California originally. I grew up in what you could call a negative household and grew up to play around a bit in comedy. My dad would always tell me to stop talking, be quiet (and really, that was the nicest thing he’d say). I did stand-up comedy for a couple years in the 90s. That actually made my dad proud, which was ironic. I’ve written scripts, I helped collaborate independent films. I just love entertainment and comedy.
Are you involved in any other fandoms?
No other fandoms prior to the summer I got involved in the MST3K Revival League. I hopped in to see what people were talking about and it was like finding the family you didn’t know you had. Then the older episodes dropped on Netflix and Hunter (my son) started liking MST3K. Because my son is on the autism spectrum, him connecting with the show was the big push into the “fandom” and collecting merchandise. We watch it together as a family. It was the first thing that ever made him want to connect with me. It gave me my son.
Do you remember your first time watching MST3K? Was your life immediately transformed or was it a specific episode that really did you in?
I started watching in 1994-1995, about halfway through the series run. The show was already in the Mike era at that time. I didn’t have cable living out in the country and I was poor. But, we moved to the city and got cable. One day I was channel surfing and saw the intro and recognized the movie into the intro. So, I decided to keep watching. I watched the whole thing and was in love. But I have to admit, I felt a little dumb because I had no idea who Joel was until I happened to catch a Joel rerun. But seeing Mystery Science Theater 3,000 brought me to life in a whole new way. It made me realize that riffing is good, natural and funny. These guys in the theater, they sounded like me and my friends. It made me feel like it was okay. I had sleepovers with my friends and every Sunday morning we’d huddle around a TV and watch episodes together.
To this day, while I love all of the show, I’m most comfortable in the Mike/Dr. Forrester/Frank era because it’s where I got my start.
You’re THE GUY for MST3K Memes. What inspires you to make new ones? How did the MST3K Motivational Memes start?
I used to make memes and birthday cards for my friends from IMDB image stuff and just got bored of it; as did my friends. I started making the MST3K memes once I got involved with the Revival League. The motivational memes were well received and I enjoyed doing them.
Originally, when I started making the memes, I had MST3K Motivation and Demotivation. I stepped away from the demotivation, because I wanted it to be all inclusive. Motivational memes for everybody. It’s one of the reasons I chose to create these memes anonymously. At this point, I’m taking what I’m good at and making it positive and accessible to a broader, happier audience. And that’s really when the jokes are good.
MST3K Motivations, to me, is a collective; a group effort. MSTIES are the collective hippies of the fandom community. Compared to some other toxic fandom stories, MST3K has the fewest “Gate Keepers”. MSTIES want to share with you what they know.
Funny enough, my wife is not a MSTIE. But when she starts getting curious about an episode or asks about a joke and I can’t wait to share the riff. Riffing is one of the least appreciated forms of comedy, but it’s organic and funny.
You’re one of the strongest voices in the fandom across social media, among a few others in the MST3K community. How have those friendships affected your relationship to the fandom?
Oh absolutely! I’ve been blessed within the last year to have the opportunity to meet so many new people and make so many new actual friends. We make each other better.
Here’s a funny story for you. One time, I bought an MST3K thing on eBay. The guy I bought it from asked if I was “The Famous Kevin Smith”, and I immediately presumed he meant from Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob. I scoffed and was like “No”. But then I read further and he asked if I was Kevin Smith from the MSTie groups. I was absolutely flabbergasted. But that’s the love you get in the MSTIE community.
Everyone I speak with online are my friends. MSTies are smart people and are creative and good at helping others. Whether its sharing the tapes, rallying for a cause or helping make someone’s day better. MSTies are loving people who want to give and help. MSTies are a bright light in fandom. It’s the message within MST3K. Look on the bright side. Turn the negative into a positive. Tear apart that ship and make your robot friends. It has a lot of family values. Joel scolds those bots and grabs Crow by the ear pretty often, ala Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas.
As cliché or simple as it sounds, Joel Hodgeson always said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. It means you need to create, make art, exchange your inventions. There are so many incredible artists and creators in the MSTie fandom. And they’re some of the nicest, smartest people in the community. Talented people like Jaime Hitchcock, right here in our fandom just as happy to know you as you are to know them!
In a perfect world, what would happen at an MST3K convention and who would you get to meet?
I almost got away with doing MST3K Motivations Live during the Mads Are Back! Show. I was going to go on Periscope and Facebook Live but the Wi-Fi was broken. We wanted people to get excited before the show for who didn’t get to see Watch Out for Snakes! tour or Mads Are Back! at their local theater. We wanted Trace and Frank to talk to the fans, take it live, meet MSTies.
I wanted to talk to MSTies, I want to meet and hang out with other fans. I got to talk to a man who brought his own Servo and the Mads signed it. I filmed it, and the man said “You’re my kind of people” because he learned about MST3K Motivations. My ideal is to travel to Cons, like DragonCons where Felicia and Jonah are going to be and help promote and produce motivational content to get the message about the show out there.
But I also have to add that Season 11 and the Revival was a modern-day miracle. Crowd funding Season 11 went against the norms of the entertainment industry where people said this isn’t possible. Finally, today, we have the merchandise we want, we have the visibility, and even the new music is for sale. I never ordered from the old Info-Club back in the day. But now, I hoard my collectables, and nothing has left my MSTie collection except except for two things: the small Gypsy figurine I gave to Rebecca, the new voice of Gypsy and the woman who plays Synthia. I gave Jonah, the new host, an autographed photo of Johnny and Martin Landow from the movie Ed Wood. I told him that as the new host of MST3K, he made me smile. And my kid sings along with him EVERY day. Jonah likes riffing, he loves MST3K, the fandom and he legitimately loves Joel. It’s clear to the fans, and he fits right in on that Satellite of Love.
Have you ever met any of the people involved in the show, on or off camera crew?
A few. I got to meet Joel at the live show. He’s so genuine and happy to meet everyone. I’ve met Trace and Frank. Rebecca and Jonah. I haven’t met Grant, but I was super nervous because I bug him so much online. Going to that live show was the greatest experience of my adult life, short of marriage and kids. I feel like something happened to me that night. We started off singing the theme song together. Which normally isn’t my thing, no way. By the end of the show, Joel comes out and sings “Clowns in the Sky” from the end of the episode Pod People.
It was really moving to be in a room filled with that many people who loves a show singing the same song. There was just so much love. Everyone was singing, and no was judging each other. It’s like why can’t every day be like that? I fight for the moment every day- I’m a MSTie. I’m with other MSTies. I want to tell everybody. And that’s why I do the Motivations. I want to go back as The Motivator. I can’t wait for the next live tour to be able to talk to everyone and see what their reaction is. That’s what I want to do- travel to cons and do this with other MSTies.
I recently went to see The Mads from MST3K live, with them knowing full well of who I am! Let’s just say I poke fun with their images a lot. That went much better than I could have hoped, though! I got to spend some good time talking with them and I absolutely adore The Mads; they’re true gentlemen.
I also want to add if anyone or any MSTie ever needs help, just use the hashtag #MTS3KMOTIVATION and your voice will be heard.
Kevin, you are amazing. Seriously, the salt of the Earth. Thank you for giving PopLurker this interview. So, just for fun…to be cheeky…who is the best host? Joel, Mike, or Jonah?
Well, all right, fine. Joel is the father and someone I respect in comedy and entertainment. Mike is someone I want to sit and talk with. Jonah is the buddy that you can hang out and listen to music with. He’s so approachably nice. As a host, let’s say Mike because I started with him.
Follow Loryn on Twitter and tell her about your life. She also has a personal blog, and her debut novel My Starlight (a YA novel about anime, cosplaying, fandom, sexuality, love, loss, and friendship) will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications. Pre-sales will be available in July.
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