Parking Lot Murders, B-Movies and Shitty Staplers: An Afternoon with Wondercrust
How many dick mentions are in an interview with a comedy collective? Only three, surprisingly -- at least when you interview Riley Morris and Naaman Rodges of Shut Up and Prance.
Instead they lead with homicide and wiretapping. Morris was calling in from Los Angeles and said he was forced to murder someone for a parking spot. After that I asked if they knew how I could record the interview with my iPhone while on the iPhone, they told me I'd need an app and also "that's illegal." They then clearly stated that they are in no way involved in my un-American spy ways ... just in case the NSA was listening.
Morris is in LA on an editing gig and also to start Wondercrust West, their modified version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. They started adding audio, clips and commentary to really awful B-list movies in 2011 after a friend suggested they give it a shot. So they did. Almost begrudgingly so. Their first movie had 15 pages of double-spaced jokes, a fraction of the 30-plus pages they have today. In their own words, the Wondercrust has two standing viewings -- the last Wednesday of the month (TONIGHT!!!) at 7 p.m. at The Grotto in Fort Worth.
It's called the Wondercrust Movie Watchers Club, it's free and everyone is invited ... you can even tweet along. If you catch a joke they missed, tweet it and you just might become a full-time Cruster. Seriously, they've added several writers to their roster through the tweet-a-long.
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And so it begins ... the Wondercrust process. On Sunday afternoons Morris and Rodges round up their crew and settle in for the shitshow. They drink, they riff, they loosely build a script adding intentional humor to an unintentionally humorous movie. By the end they have live bits to rehearse, commentary to record and clips to edit in. Their goal is to build layer upon layer of chuckles, gaffs and guffaws, but never disrupt the plot of the movie. If the audience can't follow along, they won't get the jokes, and it's all about jokes.
Part of the fun is mixing in pop culture references that we're all familiar with. Like in one cinematic dumper the main character said the words "Iron Maiden." The only logical next step is to dig up Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) screeching, "excellent" and air-guitaring their slacker asses off and splice it in. As for the live parts, they let their terrible accents do most of the heavy lifting. Occasionally they'll strike gold though like they did recently when 60 seconds of the B-movie dialog was hysterical by itself simply with the setup, "Everything you're about to hear is a dick joke." Sometimes the jokes literally write themselves.
Rodges and Morris say all these little joke babies they script are sometimes trumped by a real-time bit that takes on a life of it's own. If something kills during the screening, they run with it because what the audience wants, the audience gets. If something bombs, well, that's a different story. Wondercrust is committed to laughs at all costs so if a bit blows it, they're happy to call out the creator because ball busting is always funny. As for the third male genitalia reference? It happened when they were bitching about the their suck-y ass shared stapler. Rodges said, "My dick could staple better than that." To which Morris deadpanned, "If that's true, I'm concerned for your safety. And even more concerned for your girlfriend."
Tonight Wondercrust will be screening Roger Corman's The Fantastic 4 at The Grotto in Fort Worth at 7 p.m.
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