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LAist Interview: Michael J. Nelson of RiffTrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Michael J. Nelson first appeared on the scene as the (seasons 5-10) host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which he and robot pals Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot provided a hilarious running commentary to some truly bad sci-fi movies. In the years since MST3K, Nelson has written a number of books, made some guest appearances on NPR, and reunited with the old MST3K gang under the name "The Film Crew."

Last year, to the delight of MSTies and movie fans everywhere, Nelson launched RiffTrax.com. The website provides downloadable commentary that can easily sync with popular DVDs via MP3 device, CD player or computer. Nelson is a riffer on each track, and "guest riffers" have included people such as Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot), Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo), "Weird Al" Yankovic, Neil Patrick Harris and Fred Willard. LAist spoke with Nelson last week and got the scoop regarding bloopers, politics and Los Angeles:

One thing I’ve always appreciated about your work is that it’s comedy that’s both edgy and clean. In your opinion, why don’t more comedians go that route rather than going blue?

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Well, I think because it’s easy to go blue and it’s just so common at comedy clubs. I like the restriction of not taking that route, and I think it makes you more creative. The novel I wrote is not for kids, but I wrote it as a challenge—as sort of a G-rated book to see if I could make adults sound like they’re actually talking, but never use blue language. And it was really fun to try to do. I had to place the novel in sort of an alternate universe to make that seem real.