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Leslie Hodgson

Leslie Hodgson

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Joel Hodgson began his performing career as a teen magician in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but by the time he was attending college in Minneapolis in the late 1970s, he had begun branching out into a more absurdist style of stand-up comedy making extensive use of whimsical inventions he dubbed "gizmonics." Far more cerebral and surreal than Gallagher-style prop comics, Hodgson stood out from conventional stand-up comedians, and by age 22, he was appearing regularly on both "Late Night With David Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live." Burned out on stand-up, he retreated to his adopted hometown of Minneapolis in the mid-'80s and with the help of a local television producer named Jim Mallon created a TV show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The series used Hodgson's gizmonics and puppets to make fun of the goofy public-domain movies otherwise gathering dust in the library of Minneapolis' KTMA-TV. After one season at KTMA, "Mystery Science Theater 3000" was picked up by The Comedy Channel (soon rebranded Comedy Central) and became one of the biggest cult favorites of the 1990s. However, behind the scenes, Hodgson and Mallon were clashing about the show's direction, and Hodgson ended up leaving his own...

Joel Hodgson began his performing career as a teen magician in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but by the time he was attending college in Minneapolis in the late 1970s, he had begun branching out into a more absurdist style of stand-up comedy making extensive use of whimsical inventions he dubbed "gizmonics." Far more cerebral and surreal than Gallagher-style prop comics, Hodgson stood out from conventional stand-up comedians, and by age 22, he was appearing regularly on both "Late Night With David Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live." Burned out on stand-up, he retreated to his adopted hometown of Minneapolis in the mid-'80s and with the help of a local television producer named Jim Mallon created a TV show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The series used Hodgson's gizmonics and puppets to make fun of the goofy public-domain movies otherwise gathering dust in the library of Minneapolis' KTMA-TV. After one season at KTMA, "Mystery Science Theater 3000" was picked up by The Comedy Channel (soon rebranded Comedy Central) and became one of the biggest cult favorites of the 1990s. However, behind the scenes, Hodgson and Mallon were clashing about the show's direction, and Hodgson ended up leaving his own show in 1993, replaced onscreen by head writer Michael J. Nelson. Hodgson partnered with his brother Jim to form a post-production studio that provides effects for television shows and largely retired from performing, although he did have a small recurring role on another cult favorite, "Freaks and Geeks."

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