Some things are just meant to be together.
Bella and Edward. R2D2 and C3PO. Holmes and Watson. “Sharknado” and Rifftrax.
Yes, we’ve not heard the last from “Sharknado.”
The Syfy channel original movie, which became a viral hit after lighting up the twitterverse on its premiere in 2013, has spawned a sequel, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” – with some scenes shot right here in Buffalo. It premieres July 30 on the network. But before that, “Sharknado” is going to get the Rifftrax treatment, a sure-to-be hilarious commentary by the gang from the long-running TV series “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.”
For “Rifftrax Live: Sharknado,” the Rifftrax trio – Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett – will appear live at the State Theatre in Minneapolis to watch “Sharknado” with an audience while adding their patented quips and wisecracks to the movie experience. It will be broadcast live to more than 700 theaters in North America, including the Elmwood Regal and Transit Regal with a rebroadcast in those same theaters at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. A preview of “Sharknado 2” will be shown in which local viewers are sure to see some familiar sites.
“It was fortuitous,” Nelson explained about the pairing of Rifftrax and “Sharknado.” “A lot of people were sending us emails and calling us to say “Sharknado,” you obviously have to do it. The makers of ‘Sharknado’ were in touch with Fathom Events, who we work with on our live shows, and said they wanted to do a ‘Sharknado’ event. So we thought ‘how about we put the chocolate and peanut butter together’ and they went for it.”
In “Sharknado,” a freak storm causes sharks to be swept up in a tornado and then rain down upon the inhabitants of Los Angeles with bloody results. It stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and John Heard.
Nelson had only seen extended clips from the movie before agreeing to riff on it. The first time he watched “Sharknado,” he said, it was with a “clinical eye” for whether the filmmakers were serious when they made the movie or if it was a big joke from the start.
“If it’s just a big joke, comedies don’t really work for us,” Nelson explained. “Luckily that wasn’t the case. They were trying to make an action movie with quips.”
Was there something definitive about “Sharknado” that made it a Rifftrax film?
“Tara Reid helped a lot. She sort of anchors it for me,” Nelson laughed, mischievously adding that he was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was someone in the movie who is a worse actor than Reid, the boy who plays her son. “Every line is like the first time in acting class.”
On the award-winning “MS3TK,” which ran for a combined 11 years on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy), the trio skewered mostly black and white B-movies and could famously be seen in silhouette on the bottom of the screen watching the movie.
Nelson said performing Rifftrax with a live audience adds to the experience for him.
“A lot of my time is spent sitting watching movies and writing jokes. It’s a solitary existence. Being able to get out in front of a live audience and perform what you have written is a burst of joy,” he said. “There is something about getting the immediate feedback. I forget sometimes that it’s great fun and I’m really, really lucky to be doing what I do.”
“When we get on stage in a live venue it gives us that extra bit of energy,” he said. “We get to mess with each other and mess with the audience in a way that I really love.”
He especially enjoys it when the audience finds things to laugh about that didn’t occur to the Rifftrax guys.
“They will find something really, really funny in the movie that never even occurred to us. That always delights us. We watch the movie 30 times and never noticed it,” he said, with an obvious respect for the Rifftrax fans.
“We’ve always said we have the greatest fans in the world. Generally very, very nice people who have an affection for the type of comedy we do. We’re not world destroyers, we’re not huge celebrities and that’s perfectly fine with me. I love what I do.”
What: “Rifftrax Live: Sharknado”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Elmwood Regal and Regal Transit