• Hey, It's That Voice! #31: Joel Hodgson

    Hello and welcome back to that weekly article that lets you look deeper into the voices behind your favorite characters. That's right, it's time for "Hey, It's That Voice!" Today, we will be looking at the voice behind the mayor of Beach City, Mayor Bill Dewey!

    As mayor of Beach City, Mayor Dewey is very panicky and it shows that he is quite incompetent at his job. It doesn't mean he doesn't have the town's best interests at heart, rather he tries and fails more often than not. It does explain all of the diversions that he tries to set up to keep the public at ease. But despite all of this, he does try to do good. So, just who would be the person who voices this mayor? Why, that would be Joel Hodgson!

    Even Mayor Dewey loves Steven.

    Born February 20, 1960 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Joel Hodgson started his career on the stage in the seventh grade with him performing as a magician and a ventriloquist. He performed around his hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin, while attending Ashwaubenon High School. He left to attend college at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minnesota to study Theatre and Mass Media. While at college, Hodgson developed his magic act to include comedy, which was well received throughout the Twin Cities area. In November of 1982, Hodgson moved out to Los Angeles, where he began performing regularly at The Comedy Store and The Comedy & Magic Club. At the age of 22, Hodgson was featured as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman. However, despite being a popular stand-up comedian, Hodgson left stand-up in 1985, citing that he needed a "creative sabbatical". Despite his "creative sabbatical", Hodgson was still sought after for numerous roles, including Woody Boyd in the sitcom Cheers, helping co-write a special with Jerry Seinfeld, and he was the first choice to portray Philo in the "Weird Al" Yankovic film UHF (the role would be given to Anthony Geary).

    However, there was a reason why Joel Hodgson turned down the role for UHF. At the time of filming for the movie, 1988, Hodgson was working on another project for KTMA in the Twin Cities area. And I will admit right here, it is one of my favorite shows:

     "Just repeat to yourself 'it's just a show,/I should really just relax.'"

    Mystery Science Theater 3000 (affectionately called MST3K by the fans) was made for KTMA in Twin Cities area. After the first season (referred to as season zero), the show was picked up as one of two original shows that would be picked up by the new The Comedy Channel (which later would merge and become Comedy Central). The other show that was picked by the Comedy Channel was also a Hodgson creation, The Higgins Boys and Gruber.

    Hodgson played the role of Joel Robinson, "just another face in a red jumpsuit", who watched and comments (or riffs) on horrible B-movies with the help of "his robot friends". Part way through the fifth season, Hodgson left Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993. After 107 episodes, Hodgson stated that there was a mixture of reasons as to why he left, including feeling uncomfortable with acting and being in front of a camera as well as creative differences. However, he would continued writing for the show and the show would go on with a new host in the form of Mike Nelson (portrayed by head writer Michael J. Nelson). The show would continue for a total of ten seasons (moving from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel), a film, and a revival slated for a Netflix release in April 2017 (which will include prop and set designing help from Rebecca and Steven Sugar).

    The crew of the Satellite of Love (left to right): Gypsy (voiced by Jim Mallon), Crow T. Robot (voiced by Trace Bealieu), Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson), and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy). Not pictured: Cambot.

    Hodgson's other work outside of Mystery Science Theater 3000 includes some other work in front of the camera. Fans of Freaks and Geeks might remember Hodgson as the Salesman and DJ. He was also reunited with a number of his former co-stars in the video game Darkstar: The Interactive Movie. Hodgson reprised his role as Joel Robinson for a fourth season episode of Arrested Development, starting with Trace Bealieu who reprised his role as Crow T. Robot. The duo also star together in Other Space.

    As for writing, Hodgson has done quite a bit of work. He assisted in writing Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, You Don't Know Jack, and 116 episodes of the first year of Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

    Finally, Hodgson worked on another project called Cinematic Titanic. Together with other MST3K alumni (including Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl), the five continue riffing B-movies live in front of an audience. The first tour took place in 2007 and the project concluded in 2013.

    Hodgson will be working behind the camera to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000 to Netflix in April this year. Who knows what this next season may lead to?

    A fan can dream, can't they?

    And that will do it for this edition of "Hey, It's That Voice!" Join me next time where we look at the voice behind Ronaldo and Peedee's pops!