Mary Jo Pehl of Rifftrax Returns to The Brain That Wouldn't Die

In this episode of Castle Talk, Jason chats with Mary Jo Pehl of Rifftrax. Pehl is a writer, comedian, and commentator, published everywhere from magazines and anthologies to NPR's All Things Considered, and she's the author of the 2022 book DUMB DUMB DUMB: My Mother's Book Reviews which came out this past May. But many of us know her as one of the voices and minds behind the Peabody-Award-winning Mystery Science Theater 3000, and over the last few years as a part of the comedy duo Bridget & Mary Jo on the Rifftrax video series with writer/comedian Bridget Nelson. Their most recent release is a new riff on the 1962 cult film The Brain That Wouldn't Die. 

Mary Jo Pehl of Rifftrax Returns to The Head That Wouldn't Die
Castle Talk logo and The Brain That Wouldn't Die poster were used with permission.

A lot of Pehl's conversation circles around returning to a film that she helped turn into a beloved MST3K episode nearly thirty years ago– The Brain That Wouldn't Die was an early episode on which Pehl was a writer for the show and was also the first episode in which "Mike Nelson" (a TV version of (and played by) writer/comedian Michael J Nelson) acted as the host of the show. Now, Bridget Nelson and Pehl return to the show. Across the expanse of time, different jokes appear, Pehl says. They wouldn't have "pushed back" against the material then the way she would now, and whole worlds of gendered conversation have opened up in the intervening years.

Pehl also talks about the creation of her book Dumb Dumb Dumb, which resulted from finding a trove of short reviews written by Pehl's late mother on notecards. The results are often as hilarious as they are koan-like ("Brass Verdict/Michael Connelly/Can't remember but kept me interested.")

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Jason Henderson hosts the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series editor. The newest volume is Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 8: Thinly Veiled 80s. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His most recent book is 18 Miles from Town: a Midlife Crisis Thriller. Find Jason on Twitter at @jasondhenderson.

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About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
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