What’s the MST3K-Zappa connection all about?
I asked the Brains one time which of them are the big Frank Zappa fans. Trace and Kevin said in unison they all are! (for more proof of this, watch the closing credits and stinger to episode 523) This connection explains my ability to create The Cheepnis List of MST3K Zappa References.
Frank Zappa was also a big fan of MST3K and of cheesy monster movies in general. A transcript of his intro explanation and lyrics to his song Cheepnis can be seen here. It explains it all. Another example of his love for sci-fi cheese can be found on the album The Man From Utopia, in the song lyrics of The Radio Is Broken. How many MST3K episodes are referenced in these two songs? More than a few!
Then there’s this article from Total TV Online dated November 1, 1997:
“MST3K… made the late Frank Zappa an instant convert when he channel surfed into “this guy wearing a clown nose and a beanie copter roasting a puppet over an open fire.” The clown was now-departed (and much beloved) Founding Father Joel Hodgson; the roasted puppet was plucky Tom Servo; and Zappa was equally bemused by the cinematic turkeys being roasted for the main course. “He just loved crummy old science fiction movies,” says writer and voice of Servo Kevin Murphy, who thought “Frank Zappa on line one” was a joke until he picked up the phone. And though Zappa died before fulfilling plans to collaborate with Best Brains on a giant spider movie “told from the spider’s point of view,” the Mothers of Invention mastermind would have had a field day digging through the moldy vaults now at MST’s disposal.”
From my own vault of MST memorabilia comes a 1993 BBI memo which mentions a former Zappa band musician visiting to watch taping:
If you wish to get even more obscure, witness that Simpson’s creator Matt Groening is both a big MSTie and a Zappa fanatic. His homage to MST3K shows up on both The Simpsons’ “Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1” and Futurama’s “Raging Bender“. Aside from his often-admitted love for Zappa’s music, I have a home video tape of Matt showing up at Franks’s house on Matt’s 39th birthday in 1993.
For a yet far more subtle connection, consider that in the 1970s, Zappa sometimes introduced himself on stage as Rondo Hatton (star of episode 702 – The Brute Man) and I even have an FZ bootleg called “The Rondo Hatton Band”.
Finally, as Frank said in a 1981 interview, “I’m a monster movie fanatic.”
What more needs to be said than that?