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Michael J. Nelson

At the 2008 Comic-Con
Born October 11, 1964 (1964-10-11) (age 45)
St. Charles, Illinois, U.S.
Official website

Michael J. Nelson (born October 11, 1964) is an American comedian and writer, most famous for his work on the cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). Nelson was the head writer of the series for most of the show's eleven-year run, and spent half of that time playing the on-air host, also named Mike Nelson. In addition to writing books, Mike is currently part of the online movie riffing sites RiffTrax and The Film Crew alongside fellow MST3K alumns, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy.


Early life

Michael John Nelson was born in St. Charles, Illinois. He is of Danish and Irish descent.[1][2] He lived in Geneva, Illinois, until the age of 12, when his family moved to northwestern Wisconsin.[3][4] He studied theater and music at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, but he left before graduating and moved to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area.[3]

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Nelson was working as a waiter at T.G.I. Friday's and doing occasional stand-up comedy when he was offered a job on Mystery Science Theater 3000, typing up the suggestions in the writing room. The writers told him to feel free to make some comments on the movies they were watching, and Nelson impressed them so much with both his wit and comedic timing that they made him a staff writer (and, later, head writer).

When series creator and host Joel Hodgson decided to leave the show halfway through the fifth season, he chose Nelson as his replacement — reportedly because he thought Nelson was a natural leader, a gifted comedian as well as a gifted musician, and also that Nelson simply looked good standing next to the show's puppets.[5]

Work since MST3K

Since the series ended, Nelson has worked steadily as a writer, publishing several books (as of March 2006): Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese, Mike Nelson's Mind Over Matters and Mike Nelson's Death Rat!, the last being his first novel. His other works include a series of pop culture humor books, Happy Kitty Bunny Pony, Goth-Icky, and Love Sick, as well as a monthly column for Home Theater magazine. He also wrote for the short-lived game show Let's Bowl, which gained a cult following of its own. He has commentary tracks for DVD releases of several films, including Reefer Madness, The Little Shop of Horrors, House on Haunted Hill, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Carnival of Souls and Night of the Living Dead. With his MST3K co-stars Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, he is part of a comedy team called "The Film Crew" which has created comedy segments for NPR. The first Film Crew DVD, Hollywood After Dark, was released July 10, 2007, and three more followed in the months after.

Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mike Nelson (left) and Kevin Murphy at "Exoticon 1" convention panel in Metairie, Louisiana, November 1998. They are contemplating New Orleans Mardi Gras beads.

In 2006, Nelson was appointed Chief Content Producer for Legend Films. He will be responsible for building and leading the company's creative content, providing on-going commentaries and developing other premium web-based programming. "I'm very excited. Legend Films is such a great fit for me—talented people who consistently put out a great product. Plus, there are Flaming Hot Cheetos in the lunch room vending machine. That made it an easy choice to join the team", enthused Nelson.[6]

One of the projects put together by Nelson and Legend Films was RiffTrax, a website offering the purchase of downloadable audio commentaries. The first commentary made available through the service was for Road House. In a September 2006 podcast interview, Nelson felt that Rifftrax may be the closest thing to a reunion of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 team.[7]

Personal life

During a 2004 interview with the fansite MST3K Review, Nelson described himself as a Protestant and a conservative: "I read the National Review cover to cover. Check in at every day. Check the Washington Times daily. Listen to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved on a regular basis. Read Mark Steyn with regularity. Read the Weekly Standard. So, yes, I do vote Republican."[8] He reportedly referred to the Minneapolis Star Tribune as "the Star and Sickle, or the Red Star Tribune". He also reportedly stated he believed that the devil "was behind American Beauty. And Pulp Fiction was one of his better works, too."[8]


Nelson is married to fellow MST3K writer Bridget Jones, and the pair have two sons. They moved from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area to San Diego, California in mid-2006.[5]

See also


External links


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