The really odd part about talking with Kevin Murphy over the phone is that your mind drifts during the discussion. While he's discussing his role with RiffTrax, his voice triggers you to imagine that you're talking with a red gumball machine with tiny flailing hands.
Each of Murphy's words sounds like it's part of a smartly crafted wisecrack aimed at some cheesy movie, like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
Yes, that rapid baritone voice on the other end of the line is the same one who joined his pals to skewer dozens of bad movies on the cultish Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
To a lot of us , Kevin Murphy is Tom Servo. And Tom Servo is Kevin Murphy.
For 10 years, Murphy, Mike Nelson and Bill Corbett (who voiced Crow T. Robot) would voice the MSTK3000 crew on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel before the show's cancellation in 1997.
These days, Murphy is joined by Nelson and Corbett in a different kind of riff show. They perform for Rifftrax.com where online visitors can relive the MSTK3000 experience through on-demand streaming video as well as DVDs and Blu-Ray for purchase. They also present a semi-regular in-theater events known as RiffTrax Live!, which are live stage performances of the riffing filmed before a live audience and beamed to cinema screens across the U.S.
Last week, RiffTrax took on Sharknado 2: The Second One, in advance of Wednesday's Syfy network premiere of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
Murphy knows movies. In 2002, he visited movie theaters around the world every single day for a year, chronicling the journey in the book A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey.
Murphy took a moment to talk about what it takes to riff in the Sharknado era.
Q: Is there a special talent involved with a well-placed barb?
A: "It's really hard to do it spontaneously. We spent a lot of time writing a script and getting it just right. It's really weird with Sharknado because you're trying to turn a dumb experience into a pleasurable experience."
Q: The Syfy Network claims it had more than one billion estimated impressions on Twitter, a lot of them snarks in 140 characters or less. How would Tom Servo tweet?
A: "The odd thing with Twitter is timing. By the time they land a punchline, you gotta try to land a joke. And you're busy typing and you miss the moment. You have to be more generalized and land a joke off a specific line. With a movie like Sharknado, a joke lands and there's another 30 seconds of total confusion."
Q: Will you be watching Sharknado on Wednesday?
A: "I've seen enough. I'm taking a break. There's a lot of scar tissue left to heal."