‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’: 4 Lessons that Apply to Work and Life

We’re such a nerdy and geeky bunch here on the QLP Blog Squad, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Whether you want to nerd out with someone about the Avengers and learn how to perfect your brand at the same time or squeal with delight over Leslie Knope’s awesome attitude and how you can be a great leader like her, we have a blogger on our squad to geek out with.

Excellent companions to a Friday or Saturday night

To further contribute to the geek-fest, an article about “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (or shortened for those awesome hard-core fans, “MST3K”) needed to be added to the mix. For you fans out there, great news! You should continue watching your MST3K DVDs because this hilarious show provides not only great entertainment value but also gives some great workplace advice at the same time.

They’ve been off the air for thirteen years (Sorry, I didn’t intend to make myself or anyone else feel old with that remark. Ouch!), so here’s a refresher for everyone: In the not too distant future, Dr. Clayton Forrester and his assistant Frank, two scientists at the Deep Thirteen Research Center, get bored one day and decide to send Joel, who is a janitor there, (and in later seasons Joel is replaced with Mike) into outer space on the Satellite of Love. While he’s there he builds two robot friends, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo so he doesn’t go crazy from isolation. As if being up there wasn’t torture enough, Dr. Forrester and Frank send up bottom of the barrel, grade “Z” movies that they force the gang to watch. How they respond to the movies is what makes this show amazing and a cult-classic!

Okay, okay. We’ve got all the administrative stuff done and over with. Let’s see how you can rationalize all that knowledge from the show and apply it to your work life!

Don’t stress out, your boss was just asking how your weekend was!

Learn to Effectively Think on Your Feet: The gang has to endure horrible movie after horrible movie, and because of this their ability to come up with witty remarks on the fly has been sharpened. You may not have to think of funny or sarcastic remarks at the drop of a hat, but being able to think on your feet is a skill everyone should master. When your boss asks you a question, instead of stammering a barely audible noise, take a deep breath and relax. Repeat their question and organize your thoughts as best you can before rambling on for twenty minutes to a yes/no question. For even more tips, check out this great resource on “Thinking on Your Feet”.

Keep Your Friends Close: Friends can help you get through anything, even robot friends that you create. Crow and Tom Servo may not meet the typical criteria for friends but they do help the guys stay sane. Talk to your coworkers and see if there’s someone or a group of them that you enjoy talking to on other topics besides TPS reports. Eating lunch with a group of people will help you stay sane as well because it’s time away from your computer screen and a two-way conversation to enjoy.

Never Take Things Too Seriously: Being able to laugh at your situation instead of stressing out about it will do a lot more good for you than pulling out your hair. The MST3K gang up there has a great sense of humor and they all get along which makes those horrible Z-movies a bit easier to watch. Yeah, sure they could freak out about the fact they’re up in space for God only knows how long, but instead they focus on having a good sense of humor about their predicament and getting through it.

Eh, things could always be worse.

Make the Best of the Situation: If you’re stuck in a crappy place where you don’t want to be and no way to change your situation, make the best of it. The guys don’t just mope around waiting for a shuttle to come pick them up to take them back home; they make the best of their new reality. Trust me, I bet your work situation can’t be any worse than being forced to endure crappy movie after crappy movie with the only form of entertainment being what you or your robot friends create. Reward yourself when you get some painstakingly annoying task completed, like ten minutes on your favorite social network site or a treat-sized Kit Kat bar from your desk drawer.

I doubt the creators of the show intended to pull any sort of in-depth analysis of it. In fact, they cover all possible questions about “science facts” in their theme song: “If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes / and other science facts (la la la), / Then repeat to yourself, “’It’s just a show,/ I should really just relax’”. However, life lessons can be seen in almost any situation (good or bad) so take a deep breath, be ready for anything, and make the best of your current situation. Lotsa luck!

Can you identify with any of these life lessons? Do you have any other life lessons that can be pulled from ‘MST3K’? Who did you like best: Joel or Mike? Sound off below!

Amy Hoidas

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ Community Manager. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on


  1. Eric

    MST3K?!?! Man. They really do abbreviate everything nowadays.

    Without knowing much about it save the premise, I’ll more than gladly agree than approaching things with a sense of humor always, always helps.

    Alright. No time to be signing this with my full name.


    • Amy Swanson

      C’mon ELab, all the cool kids are abbreviating things nowadays 😉

      Having a sense of humor and laughing through things always makes it a lot more bearable for some reason. Not sure why, but it always helps. Maybe because if we see the hilarity in something it distracts us from all the bad things associated with it? That’s what my one class in psychology has to offer, haha!

      TFSBALACMA!! (translation: thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, much appreciated!!)

  2. Wash

    I think after years of watching many MST3K episodes, MST3K: The Movie might still be my favorite one. I also always recommend that one as a jumping off point for anyone looking to get into the show!

    Also, Rifftrax!

    • Amy Swanson

      I haven’t checked out ‘MST3K: The Movie’ yet, but you’re the one to ask so I’ll write that one down to check out.

      I’m immensely jealous that you and Jill have gone to see a few Rifftrax events. One of these days they’ll have a date that I can make!!

      Thanks for the comment!!

      • Jana Quinn

        This Island Earth is definitely one of the best. My favorite line: “I’m your pilot, Claud Rains. Your co-pilot, Harvey the Rabbit.”

    • Jill Tooley

      I’m with this guy! The movie is excellent and it’s easily accessible for people who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a show before.

      Yes, you need to attend a Rifftrax event one of these times! It’s seriously so hilarious. Thank goodness they’ll never run out of crappy movies to make fun of!

      A little bit more on-topic, I love your “Never take things too seriously” point. If we don’t have a sense of humor, how will we ever get through the hard times? And for that matter, how will we ever have fun during the easier times? Thanks for turning one of my favorite things into a cool blog post! 🙂

      • Amy Swanson

        “Thanks for turning one of my favorite things into a cool blog post! :)” You don’t know how much that made me smile, Jill. Thank you so much!! 😀

        I don’t know who said it first, but I’m pretty sure there’s some quote about ‘laugh when you want to cry and things will be better’… or something along those lines. Good advice, hard to follow sometimes, but good to hear.

        I’m keeping an eye on upcoming Rifftrax events, nothing is going to keep me from the next one!

  3. Cybernetic SAM

    YESSSSS! This is awesome AMY! I grew up watching MST3K and I never would have thought to make these connections but they all work so well! I love it! Great job!!!!

    • Amy Swanson

      Awww thanks for the kind words, Sam! It was a really fun post to research (and a great excuse to marathon through a DVD box set too!)

      My boyfriend got me hooked on this show a few months ago when he found out Netflix had them available for viewing. With so many episodes it’s going to take a while to get through them all. Not that I’m complaining 😀

  4. Mikey

    Ah, MST3K was always one of my favorite shows growing up, and I still love it. I also second that you should watch The Movie; though I always thought that the concept of MST3K itself being a movie with a theatrical release to be …well, weird, I can’t argue with results. And I love that these guys are still in the business of riffing with Rifftrax! I’ve been to a couple of their live events, and I have dozens upon dozens of their commentaries on my computer, and their all hilarious. Oh, and as for Mike Nelson vs. Joel Hodgson, I’ve always been partial to the Mike years. I don’t dislike Joel, but I’ve always just thought Mike was funnier. Great post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      I’m so jealous you’ve been to some Rifftrax events, Mike! I’ve heard they’re a lot of fun and really entertaining. A couple theaters around here show the events, which is nice so I don’t have to go to Chicago to partake in the hilarity.

      I’m with you on the Joel train, they’re both funny but I like Joel more 🙂

  5. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’ve seen bits and parts of MST3K, but never one in its entirety. That being said, I really like your 4th point, Amy. Rarely in our lives will we be in the “perfect” situation. But by making the best out of it, you can still have a great time.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Amy Swanson

      It’s a real funny show, you need to have a quirky sense of humor to watch it, but once you get it you’re hooked.

      Glad you liked the post, Mandy 🙂 Thanks!

  6. Rachel

    MST3K/Rifftrax is one of those things I keep hearing about but have never experienced. Sounds like my cup of tea, though. And these are great tips whether one is familiar with the series or not! Great stuff, Amy 🙂

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks Rachel 🙂

      I think you’d enjoy the show, seems like something right up your alley!

  7. Jenna Markowski

    I’ve never seen MST3K before, but it definitely seems like something I should check out! I think for me the most important tip here is learning to think on your feet. That’s something I struggle with quite a bit. If someone catches me off guard with a question, even if I know the answer I still scramble to gather my thoughts.

    Excellent post, Amy!

    • Amy Swanson

      Haha, I scramble to collect my thoughts too, Jenna. Maybe not with family and friends, but definitely with some people.

      Thanks for the comment, I’m so glad you liked the lessons 🙂

  8. keith

    Has it really been 13 years?!?!? Such a great and entertaning show. I would always get sucked into an episode if I came across it on T.V. They do provide some great lessons for work and life.

    • Amy Swanson

      Oh my goodness, it’s so easy to get sucked into watching them!! It seems like the worse the movie, the better the commentary, haha!

  9. Jana Quinn

    MST3K is a hilarious show and apparently an excellent source of business advice! I like the one about making the best of a bad situation. Stuck late on a boring project? Make a game out of it like creating paper airplanes out of rejected drafts. Keep yourself sane at all costs.

    Another thing I loved about MST3K is that their scope of references was so unbelievably wide. Hmm, maybe a follow-up article on how to network all of your resources? 🙂

    • Amy Swanson

      Keeping yourself sane at all costs is something that we hear a lot, but it’s not until we’re in a crappy situation do we realize how important it is. I really like your suggestion about making paper airplanes out of rejected drafts, I’d much rather see them lying around the floor than a bunch of papers with pen marks covering them.

      Love your idea for a follow-up article, that one could be in the works 🙂

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