Original Mystery Science Theater 3000 writer & cast member Mary Jo Pehl has announced a new livestream series in collaboration with Dumb Industries: The Mary Jo Pehl Show. The monthly comedy-variety show is set to premiere on Twitch Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 8pm ET / 7pm CT, with Pehl hosting an interactive hour of comedy every fourth Tuesday of the month, free to all viewers.
Chris Gersbeck, founder of Dumb Industries and producer of the popular The Mads Are Back livestreams with MST3K’s Trace Beaulieu & Frank Conniff, will be producing.
“When the pandemic first started I moved in with my widowed Dad for the duration, taking up residency in his basement,” Pehl said when asked how The Mary Jo Pehl show came about. “I started a Facebook Live show where I updated people on my Dad, his parsimony with pancake syrup, and the general goings-on in Fridley, Minnesota, where he lives. Tens and tens of people enjoyed it, I had a blast, and it kind of grew from that.”
The Mary Jo Pehl Show will be a loosely structured variety show with the format, theme, and content set to change with each episode. The premiere episode will find Pehl presenting a series of unaired pilots and never-before-seen short films she has been involved with over the years, in what she is referring to as “The Failed Film Festival.”
Amongst the films to be presented are the pilot for RenFest, a sitcom starring Pehl as the newly-hired Second Assistant General Manager of a renaissance fair alongside her Cinematic Titantic co-stars Trace Beaulieu and Dave (Gruber) Allen, the pilot for America Obscurious, a mockumentary-style comedy also featuring Beaulieu in addition to MST3K & RiffTrax ’s Kevin Murphy, plus a series of sketches Pehl produced and starred in featuring her own down-on-her-luck character Ruth Larson.
“‘The Failed Film Festival’ is kind of a tongue-in-cheek career retrospective of projects I worked on with some great people, that just never really found homes,” Pehl said. “‘It’s really intended to be a lighthearted take on creativity and work in general, and I’d love people to be buoyed by the idea that they should just keep doing what they love to do.”
Mary Jo Pehl was one of the original writers and actors on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and was featured as the beloved arch-nemesis Pearl Forrester. Pehl was a producer, writer, and performer with Cinematic Titanic, a live theatrical version of MST3K that played to sold-out audiences across the country, and she currently teams with MST3K alum Bridget Nelson on RiffTrax.
Pehl has also been featured on Hidden America with Jonah Ray and Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite. Her commentaries have been on NPR’s All Things Considered, and she has appeared in the Mortified stage show and featured on its podcast. Mary Jo is, of course, best known for being a crossword puzzle clue in a national magazine, and her stage show, One Across: My Life As a Former Crossword Puzzle Clue, which has been featured at comedy and theater festivals throughout the land.
Themes for future episodes of The Mary Jo Pehl Show will be decided by the fans, with Pehl providing several possible options at the end of each show and letting viewers vote on which they’re most anxious to see next.
“I’m really excited for suggestions from fans for shows,” said Pehl. “But plans for future episodes include movie watching parties – I won’t be riffing, but I’ll be experiencing and reacting to movies with viewers in real time. There will also be ‘The Partridge Family Book Club,’ in which people who’ve read any of the novelizations will be invited to be part of the Book Club; and I’ll also be reading excerpts from my junior high journal, among other things. There’ll always be Q&As, and connecting with everyone on the chat function.”