Host Jonah Ray Has The Comedy Chops For 'MST3K'

by Laura Rosenfeld
Photo by Darren Michaels, SMPSP

It may not be next Sunday A.D., but Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, the reboot of the cult classic comedy show, is premiering on Netflix on Friday, April 14. As with any reboot, you should expect Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return to include some changes. That's especially going to become noticeable among the cast, which will feature a new host instead of the creator of the original series, Joel Hodgson, at the helm. Yes, Jonah Ray will host Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, so I'm eager to see what new spin he'll put on the beloved show.

But hold onto your helmets, because Ray won't be the only new face on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return. He will be joined by Felicia Day as new characters Kinga Forrester and Patton Oswalt as TV's Son of TV's Frank. However, the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 won't be completely full of new faces. The test subject's iconic robot friends, including Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow will all be back for more shenanigans.

So if you're a fan of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, you've got to at least give this new version a try, right? I mean, it seems like there's a good chance that the reboot will be able to capture some of the same campy magic of the original series. Even if it's only a fraction of it, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return should be able to provide a bright spot in these oft-dark times.

But I understand the hesitation about being on board with Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, too. I mean, the host is everything, and if Ray doesn't bring the sarcasm and silliness, things could go south real quickly.

However, I think Ray has what it takes to simultaneously please old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans while also bringing the cult classic to an even wider audience. As you will soon see, the dude knows comedy and can be compelling on screen. So do as the original theme song to the series says and "just relax."

The New Host Is Just As Intriguing As The Old One

Ray will be replacing original host Hodgson on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, but it looks like his character will have his very own backstory in the reboot. In the original series, the host was actually an employee of the Gizmonic Institute who got shot into space by his bosses because they didn't like him very much. They forced him to watch "cheesy movies" while they monitored his mind. From the reboot's official trailer, it looks like Ray will play another Gizmonic employee who gets fooled into landing on the Moon 13 research station and is trapped there so that Kinga has a new test subject for her family's "most legendary experiment: Mystery Science Theater 3000." That means, just like Hodgson, Ray will get to riff on a new batch of B movies with his robo pals. Um, can you say best job ever, or what?

He Has Hodgson's Blessing

And before any of you Mystery Science Theater 3000 purists out there get your pitchforks ready, you should know that Ray has been a part of the reboot since practically the beginning. Ray appeared in the video for the Kickstarter campaign that was launched in 2015 in pretty much the same role that he'll be taking on in the reboot. Hodgson even said back then in an update to the campaign that he was "hoping Jonah Ray will suit up as 'Jonah Heston,' the next host of Mystery Science Theater 3000." Since the reboot was successfully backed on Kickstarter, to the tune of more than $5 million, it looks like Hodgson's dream is coming true — and so will yours.

He Knows Comedy

Before this out-of-this world gig, Ray made a name for himself as a stand-up comedian. In addition to performing all over the country, Ray has also brought his comedy to TV in his own half-hour special for Comedy Central's The Half Hour series, as a guest on @Midnight, and narrating a segment of Drunk History. He's also known for hosting the stand-up show The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail on Comedy Central with co-host and Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani. His most recent gig before Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return was as the host of the funny fake travel show Hidden America with Jonah Ray on SeeSo.

You Can Listen To His Funny

Ray has also dominated the podcast game as the host of his own podcast called Jonah Raydio and has appeared on The Nerdist Podcast as well. So after you're done with S-Town, maybe give Jonah's podcast a listen for a bit of a palate cleanser, eh?

He's In A Band

In case you haven't figured this out yet, Ray is a bit of a renaissance man. Oh, yes. The new Mystery Science Theater 3000 host also has some musical talent. He's also in a new band called Pressers, who just performed in Los Angeles on April 12, the comedian recently announced on Twitter. Well, now we know that Ray is perfectly capable of singing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song if need be.

He Started His Own Record Label

Ray is so hilarious and cool that the comedy record label, Aspecialthing Records, gave him his very own imprint in 2014. It was called Literally Figurative Records. "I am gonna put out the stuff I like in the hopes that other people will too. Also, to maybe shed some light on some comics and bands that I really dig that people may not know about," Ray said of the label on his Tumblr. "This is a comedy label, this is a music label, this is probably some weird vanity project."

Now aren't you just dying to know what Ray has in store for you on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return? I know I am.