A pretty tough interview with Master Pancake Theater

Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet, Mork and Mindy, Ren and Stimpy – history has given us a fair share of powerful duos over the past few years. Some of them make us want to sing. Think Salt-n-Pepa. Some of them make us want to fight crime. Think Batman and Robin. Others make us want to eat. Again, think Salt-n-Pepa. What I’m getting at is that unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past eight years, or unless you just moved here from California, you have seen a Master Pancake Theater show at the Alamo Drafthouse. This also means that you have been exposed to a certain duo that masters the art of poking fun of cheesy movies. That Other Paper’s Michael Williams sat down with Master Pancake Theater’s John Erler and Joe Parsons to talk about many funny things, some of which will not be reproduced. Sorry.

courtesy Master Pancake The cast of Master Pancake’s Independence Day show: David Jara, Joe Parsons, John Erler, and Mac Blake 

That Other Paper Master Pancake Theater. How did you come up with that name?

John Erler Oh man, that’s a tough one.

Joe Parsons Yeah, maybe we should come back to that.

TOP Okay, moving on. I polled some of our readers and asked them what questions they would like me to ask you. Here we go. What is your favorite color?

JP How old is this reader?

TOP I asked my niece. She’s six-and-a-half.

JP Hmmm. I like green.

JE That’s tough question.

TOP This is going to be a pretty tough interview.

JP Back off a minute. Quit trying to pigeonhole us.

TOP I just ask the questions our readers want answered. So how did Master Pancake Theater form?

JE It started out in 2000 as the Mr. Sinus Theater 3000 with Jerm Pollet, Owen Egerton, and myself. Mr. Sinus broke up at the end of 2006 with Die Hard being our last show. The following spring Joe and I chose Titanic as the first film to mock under the name Master Pancake Theater. Austin’s own Leslie was our special guest that night. Did you know he really likes Westerns?

JP Ha, that’s right. I started selling shirts at the Mr. Sinus shows just hoping to be able to watch the show for free. After a while I started subbing when someone was out and then I eventually got a permanent spot in the cast.

TOP There are a lot of bad movies out there. Take me through the process of choosing a film and then putting it in the theater.

JP The hardest part is finding the right movie. There is a formula involved.

JE Movies that you loved as a kid but realized they are really cheesy as a grown-up are ideal.

TOP Like the movie you’re currently doing, Independence Day, for instance? I guess that came out about eight years ago?

JP Twelve years! Can you believe it? Seems like yesterday, but it was 12 years ago.

JE We have a lot of young readers here, Joe. You might not have recognized it at the time, but movies in the ’90s were filled with recycling propaganda. There is a clip in Independence Day where one of the characters is going around waving cans in peoples faces try to get them to recycle.

JP Save the earth from aliens, recycle! Usually the movie won’t work unless we like it. We’ve done a few movies that were stinkers like the Crossroads with Britney Spears or Catwoman (showing July 25th and 26th at the Alamo Village). But usually they are childhood favorites.

JE Once we’ve picked the right movie we try to watch it eight times before putting it in the theater. We just try to make each other laugh during rehearsal. Of course, once you put the show in front of an audience, who knows what will happen?

JP During rehearsal I was pretty skeptical about how funny this one presidential speech would be. We decided to put captions up during the speech so everyone could recite it. Turned out to kill.

courtesy Master Pancake 

JE I knew that was going to be funny. Usually once the run of shows is over we’ve watched one particular movie about 26 times.

TOP I trust you. That’s a lot of popcorn. Some people like to watch movies with the lights on. Do you have a preference?

JE If I’m in the theater I want the lights off. I don’t want to be able to see creepy people.

JP Is this your niece we’re talking about?

TOP Maybe. What’s the most memorable Master Pancake Theater show you can recall?

JE I liked Roadhouse a lot. Anything with Patrick Swayze is going to be good because you’ll laugh out the wazoo. That’s for your younger readers.

TOP Good to know.

JP This might sound kind of plugged, but the opening night of Independence Day last weekend is probably going to go down as one of my favorite shows.

JE I agree. The energy for this show has been amazing. We have an amazing cast with David Jara and Mac Blake sitting in with us. Those guys are just brilliant.

JP No kidding – they really help make this show the huge success it is.

TOP So when did you decide that you wanted to get into comedy? Who are your biggest comedic influences?

JE I know it’s the obvious answer, but George Carlin. I really appreciated him and Bob Newhart because those were the comedians that made my parents laugh, and I really wanted to make my parents laugh. My mom was always the hardest one to crack, but George Carlin and Bob Newhart could do it. Ever since I was a kid I loved watching TV. I was kind of a lonely kid so I developed a relationship with the television. I know it’s sad and pathetic, but it’s true. I would talk to my TV.

TOP Did your TV have a name?

JP No, but his penis name is Magnavox.

JE Unrelated coincidence. But I would seriously talk back to the TV. I knew from an early age that I wanted to perform.

JP I started getting into the improv comedy scene when I was about 15 with Owen Egerton. I also really got involved with sketch, so naturally some my biggest influences were Monty Python and Mystery Science Theater 3000. That stuff is still hilarious 30 years later.

JE So back to your originally question: The name Master Pancake Theater came about because Mr. Sinus Theater 3000 was being sued by the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000. We ended up brainstorming about two-hundred names to replace Mr. Sinus Theater 3000 and Master Pancake is one names that we produced. We ended not using the name at that point in time because we decided to just change the name to The Sinus Show.

TOP I hope you don’t end up being sued by a restaurant. We have two last questions from some of our readers. Fill in the blank: I would be a _______ pancake.

JP Banana nut.

JE I’d be a Joe pancake.

TOP Do you have any animals?

JP No.

JE Yes. My dog Molly. Can I change my answer for the last question?

TOP Okay.

JE I’d be a Molly pancake.

Be sure to see Master Pancake at the Drafthouse tonight, July 12 – it’s the last day of their Independence Day show. They’ll be doing Catwoman on July 25–26.


mac blake's picture

the hands in the second picture both belong to the same person; (crazy) the lovely and talented Ximena E.

Anonymous's picture

Saw this show last weekend and it really was quite good, alot better than Crossroads.

Elizabeth Bennet's picture

You guys are my heroes. When my parents were visiting a few months ago, I took them to see Master Pancake Mocks Planet of the Apes and they almost died with laughter. So thanks!