Colorful Comments on the Black and White Screen

Photo Courtesy of

Francesca Testen, In-Focus Editor, Cartoonist

The Weinberg Center often hosts theater productions, special guest speakers, and movie screenings. On November 18, The Weinberg Center hosted a different type of event: live

 movie riffing. Riffing is when a host makes funny and entertaining comments during a movie as it is playing. The 1990’s television comedy Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), created by Joel Hodgson, was a program that specialized in this. The characters in the show, imprisoned aboard a satellite orbiting earth, were forced by two mad scientists to watch horrible movies. Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff, who played the mad scientists in MST3K, appeared at the Weinberg Center to riff on two movies at two separate shows.

The first movie, played at 3 p.m., was The Tingler (1959) which was about a parasite that fed off of people’s fear. The film, which had numerous technical errors and awkward pacing. These aspects were entertaining all by themselves and were made much funnier by the riffing of Beaulieu and Conniff, who seemed to comment on the pratfalls of the film at just the right time. Far be it from me to comment on what makes a movie good, but The Tingler seemed like it was bad on purpose. The plot seemed to drag and was very bizarre. The character development was poor; I had no reason to want to root for the characters. Every character in the film was either evil or had no personality whatsoever.

There was an intermission between the shows which included a meet-and-greet event with Beaulieu and Conniff. Along with dozens of other fans, I was able to speak with them and get a picture. Merchandise was being sold, and, according to Beaulieu at the start of the 8 p.m. show, it was almost all sold out.

At the 8 p.m. show, Beaulieu and Conniff riffed on Glen or Glenda (1953), a film about a cross-dressing man struggling to reveal the secret to his fiancée. I will start by saying that this film made absolutely no sense. It was more of an infomercial than a film, except for the weird fantasy sequence, and the commentary was outdated and biased against transvestites and transsexuals. Despite the offensive commentary and the cinematic issues, including horrible lighting and repeated footage, the film was somewhat funny for how outdated and bad it was. The riffing by Beaulieu and Conniff made a bad film better, as they joked about the antiquated ideas and the horribly cheesy dream sequence which had no relevance to the plot.

Despite the fact that these movies are considered bad today, it is important to remember that they were considered good when they were created. We can be happy that film technology has improved so much in the past few decades…and that there will always be movies to riff on in the future.

Looking for a great show? Go to the Weinberg to experience quality entertainment!

The Nutcracker                                                A Christmas Carol

December 8, 2017 8 p.m.                               December 15, 2017 7:30 pm

December 9, 2017 2 p.m.                               December 16, 2017 2 p.m.

December 9, 2017 7 p.m.                                December 16, 2017 7:30 p.m.

December 10, 2017 2 p.m.                              December 17, 2017 2 p.m.


The 23rd Annual Messiah Sing-Along                          Phil Vassar and Kellie Pickler

December 19, 2017 8 p.m.                                            December 22, 2017 7 p.m.


The Deanna Bogart Band- New Year’s Eve Eve            1964: The Tribute

December 30, 2017 7:30 p.m.                                         January 12, 2018 8 p.m.


Cartoon Fest 2018

January 6, 2018 2 p.m.