MST3K Interview: Felicia Day & Rebecca Hanson at the Turkey Day Marathon

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars and writers Felicia Day and Rebecca Hanson ahead of the show’s 2022 Turkey Day Marathon. The marathon takes place on November 24 at 7 ET/4 a.m. PT and will feature two previously exclusive Gizmoplex episodes and a short, as well as eight classic upscaled (or ‘Surgically Enhanced’) episodes and plenty of new host segments .

“This year’s annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Turkey Day Marathon is the largest event in nearly 30 years,” says the event synopsis. “Join your friend MSTalong with hosts Felicia Day and Rebecca Hanson for a day filled with turkey…of the cinematic variety!”

Spencer Legacy: Felicia, you’ve been playing Kinga since 2017. As a fan of the series way before that, has that first crazy thrill ever worn off? Or is every day still really exciting?

Felicia Day: The most exciting days are when Joel is on set and you can hear his voice behind you and I feel like the TV is on because he has such a clear voice. And then I think, “is he real? Is it really behind me?” But no, it’s really great to feel like I own Kinga in a way that I didn’t even at the beginning. And this last season I definitely felt like I owned her – maybe even too much; I had way too much fun – but I hope people enjoy the new season, because it was a lot of fun to make.

Rebecca, what is the process of writing an episode of MST3K like? It has such a legacy and really revolutionized commentary and riffing. So how is it to be done?

Rebecca Hanson: It’s like stabbing your own eye repeatedly. Repeatedly. Well, kidding, kidding. Just for fun. The process changed a bit this season from what we’ve done in previous seasons. What was great was [that] I felt like it was much more collaborative this time. All of our writers rooms this season were Zoom rooms. We’re working on this program called Collaborate, where if you want to write ahead of time, you can. It is also wonderful when we are first in the room; sometimes we generate ideas there spontaneously. We’ll fine tune the writing process afterwards by doing some riff production. Then there will be some days where we pitch ideas for host segments. It’s great to hear all the crazy things people want to write about. Our lead writer would assign us different things and we just wanted to [do them] immediately. So there are many layers. Am I making this sound too complicated or too simple?

It is exactly what I hoped it would be.

Felicia Day: It’s quite nice. It’s really fun because it was more collaborative. The last few seasons it was more like you sent your cracks in and then they went through them and picked them. It was really fun just being able to support other people’s comedy and just realizing how brilliant the writers on the show are.

Felicia, how do you think your history with online media, whether it’s The Guild or all this stuff you’ve done, has prepared you for this role? Especially now that MST3K has its own online service?

Felicia Day: I guess I’m just a do-it-yourself girl who’s always trying to get into the system but never quite gets in. So I think after all these years, I think I like this better. Mystery Science Theatre has always been kind of fringe, everyone knows about it, but it’s not really part of anything. It just does its own thing. I definitely feel like I share that spirit. The fact that the fans have made this happen for a few seasons now is just phenomenal. It just goes to show that just because Hollywood greenlights some things, it doesn’t mean they really know what people want to see. Whatever happens in the future, I am truly grateful to have been Kinga and to have been a part of one of my favorite shows.

Rebecca, you both act and write on the show. Do you have a preference for one or the other? Do they blend into each other?

Rebecca Hanson: They totally blend into each other. That’s my background. I come from an improv and sketch comedy background, so this is a bit straight forward. It’s fun to write for others. It’s fun to write for myself. It’s fun to write with others and it’s really the dream scenario. So to do this for MST3K, which is a show that shaped me comedically, it’s such a nice ride to be on this side of it. So I like it all and I love being on camera and I love being in front of the live audience. I was doing live shows and Netflix and then the Gizmoplex season, like the whole thing. I love it all.

Which of the remastered Turkey Day episodes was your favorite?

Felicia Day: Well, I haven’t seen the remastered versions of it, but I have to say Catalina Caper has always been one of my favorites. Also, Mitchell – they definitely hit the nail on the head with the best episodes. And I really love Santos and Beyond Atlantis. They will be seen for the first time or spread out because the season has been at the Gizmoplex rolling out. So I think it will be really exciting not only to revisit classics like those, but also the new ones. I think people will have a really good time with them.

Rebecca Hanson: I mean, you can’t beat Mitchell like. Oh, my goodness. MitchellIt’s just one of my favorite things on earth

Felicia Day: You can not.

Rebecca Hanson: And it’s one of those that we just quote all the time. I’m a sucker too Catalina Caper. I want to say Parts: The Clonus Horrorthe one I’m not that familiar with.

Felicia Day: I actually don’t think I’ve seen it.

Rebecca Hanson: It’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I can’t wait to see it now that it’s going to look better and sound better because that’s what’s part of the surgically enhanced. The riffs haven’t changed, it’s just the visuals, like the actual movie is sharper, clearer. I’m excited to see some of these that either it’s been so long that I’m not that familiar with. It will be cool to see them better and experience them again on a crisper level.

Felicia, Kinga has had her own journey through the seasons. What direction do you hope she would go in as a person?

Felicia Day: I think she would be a great mother. I feel she would be very nurturing and patient and understanding with a child. It’s just perfect. She truly has the temperament to nurture a young child and be the best they can be. So I really want that trip for her.

Rebecca, you look like you have something on your mind.

Rebecca Hanson: Oh, I’m just… well, Kinga. Whatever Kinga says, I agree. Just hearing you say it, part of me wants you to have this fake baby, but you think it’s real and we all have to treat it as if it is real around you.

Felicia Day: Oh, that would be really fun. That would be a really good gag.

Rebecca Hanson: So she thinks she’s a mom, but we say “oh boy.” Because you know, Kinga has a bit of a temper. It would just be fun to play that aspect of like, “Yeah, that’s her baby. It’s not a real baby, but that you’re a mom.”

Felicia Day: It would actually be really fun. She’s a very damaged lady and that’s why I love the stuff I do with Rebecca. I think Turkey Day will be a lot of fun and people will really enjoy the shenanigans we get into.

Rebecca, MST3K has a very unique and good balance between serious criticism and good-natured comedy. How do you prevent the criticism from ever feeling harsh or too mean?

Rebecca Hanson: I think the way I approach writing is that maybe I try to attack more of a character choice that’s made in the movie, as opposed to like, “This plot is terrible!” You know, just ringing it out. I like to highlight what’s so annoying about a character – or maybe about the movie itself – amplifying that aspect as opposed to just slamming it if that makes any sense. So if a character has a really annoying voice in my head, all the riffs are in that really annoying voice, like the characters [do] just to infuriate the watchers even more.

Felicia Day: The Watchers. It sounds ominous.

Felicia, you mentioned this a little bit earlier, but what was that Gizmoplex experience like knowing that fans are really directly contributing and funding and really excited about this content?

Felicia Day: I just think it’s amazing. You get a lot of failures in Hollywood and you can’t really … I think the one thing I’ve learned is that you can understand the business aspect of something, but you can’t let it get to you emotionally and feel that what is rejected is not worthy. Well, it is worthy. It’s just not for them at that moment. So what I love is that Joel not only said, “I’m going to keep doing the show, but I want to build a destination. I want a place where fans can always feel at home and can connect with each other.” And it was kind of old school, but at the same time feels even more relevant now that Twitter is breaking down. Like we need to go back to the smaller communities where we can actually get to know each other [people]. That’s the way it is Cheers of online digital portals. I really appreciate what they have done. I hope to see many more seasons made on Gizmoplex. That would be amazing.

Rebecca Hanson: And to that end, it’s also been fun to create this bonus content that… I guess I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know to what extent. So not to be a total jerk, but to write Synthia Selects and do them and have Mary Jo [Pehl] does Pearl Selects and then Kinga might do one. I do not know.

Felicia Day: Who knows?

Rebecca Hanson: Then Mega-Cynthia does hers, and then all the vault pictures. There are these little blips behind the scenes with like Jonah and his Botts and Emily and her Botts. So it’s fun to make this universe even richer in the Gizmoplex.

Rebecca, do you have a particular favorite riff that comes to mind when you think of all the ones you’ve done?

Rebecca Hanson: Oh, I did?

Felicia Day: Oh God, that’s a lot. It is very specific.

Rebecca Hanson: I want to think that what always comes to mind is something I said that made the room laugh, but then it didn’t make it into the episode. I’d say one that’s quoted quite a bit back to me is probably the first time GPC drops down and she says, “that’s Mr. Filing Cabinet.” It’s an honor to do that because GPC has never riffed before and in season 11 they brought her in to do it. I didn’t write that. I can’t take credit for that. I can only take credit for saying that, but it’s fun and I love how many people want to say that back to me and that’s really nice.

Felicia Day: I have one that didn’t make it, but it was my first thing I ever riffed on and it was too Hercules and I took it way too seriously. Like I spent hours riffing. After a few more seasons you think, “girl, you don’t have to work so hard.” But there was one in Hercules where you suddenly get a close-up of the woman and she suddenly has purple hair for some reason and I made a Twilight Sparkle joke which was a deep My little pony joke that I really wanted to make, but I’m 100% sure Joel just didn’t understand where it was coming from.

Rebecca Hanson: I wrote about them too and I would definitely have!

If rights and financing weren’t an issue in any way, what would be your dream movie to riff on?

Felicia Day: I want to say Beautiful woman. It’s really bad. I don’t think it’s… obviously it might not be that family friendly, but that movie doesn’t hold up. It doesn’t hold up, and obviously it’s only because I saw it recently and I was like, “Oh, oh no.” A lot happens that doesn’t last. It doesn’t last.

Rebecca Hanson: I have called one The gnome mobile, it’s a Disney movie. It’s an old-fashioned Disney one, and it’s a ride. It’s not on Disney+ so don’t try to look for it there… I think it’s a little too random for Disney+. But yes The gnome mobile.

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