Joseph Scrimshaw and Bill Corbett know comedy. They also know movies. So their latest project, CineMadness, shouldn't really come as a surprise. In it, the two will chat about their lifelong affinity for film, be it a cinema classic or the absolute dregs of the movie-making world.
Scrimshaw's original shows have made him a favorite of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and beyond. Corbett is best known for his years as Crow during the Sci-Fi Channel era of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and, in recent years, as a regular on the post-MST3K RiffTrax. Last year, Scrimshaw produced (and starred in) Corbett's Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1. The two have also created My Monster, which has played at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, the San Francisco Sketchfest, and a Jonathan-Coulton-sponsored cruise.
It was after that cruise last year when the two started to talk about crafting a new show together. "I wanted to have something in my repertoire that was more of me talking to the audience, more presentational," Scrimshaw says.
They ended up with a play that is "modular, where we can work in guests every night," Corbett adds. "It's kind of like a travelling medicine show."
CineMadness will include monologues, music, and "absolutely voluntary" audience participation. "In terms of content, we don't want to just make fun of movies. We're going to look at how movies actually affect our lives, and how it changes the way we see things," Scrimshaw says. "One monologue I have is what Star Wars has meant to me. There's so much noise around it now, but I want to get back to the experience of seeing this when I was four years old."
Corbett will dig into his own past in a couple of different ways. "I've wanted to do a piece exploring my whole relationship with dubious movies. What makes a bad movie, and who gets to say what a bad movie is? I want to take one movie that I've loved in my life and see the interesting arc it's taken. I loved it as a kid, then I had disdain for it, was ashamed for it and then came around again," he says.
Corbett has his own experience with making "bad" cinema. He's the scriptwriter for Meet Dave, an Eddie Murphy vehicle that was both a commercial and critical flop (with a 19 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes).
"My own screenwriting experience is that the movie I wrote wasn't very good. It got changed entirely, but it would be really churlish of me to say, 'What a shit experience.' I made some money and got a chance. Often, stuff is made with the best intentions and it still can be a horrible mess," Corbett says. "I'm trying to balance the weight of the brickbracks I've thrown over the years, and I try not to be a knee-jerk cynic about everything."
A trio of special guests will help Scrimshaw and Corbett. Local actor (including the Coen's A Serious Man and Nickelodeon Universe's Scream Collector) Ari Hoptman will join them on the first night, followed by Kevin Murphy (who was Tom Servo on MST3K and is one of Corbett's RiffTrax collaborators), and Trace Beaulieu (who was the original Crow, Dr. Clayton Forrester, and is a member of Joel Hodgson's Cinematic Titanic).
"They all have direct experience with movies and are really funny when talking about movies," Scrimshaw says.
CineMadness will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 (with Ari Hoptman), November 11 and 12 (with Kevin Murphy), and November 14 and 19 (with Trace Beaulieu) at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Tickets are $14 (in advance) and $18 (day of the show), with a $2 discount with a 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival button.