Riff Traxing Black Fist

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will recognize a not-so-subtle nod to the cult television show in the Wealthy Street Theatre’s March 13 comedy event, WST3K presents “Black Fist.” Both shows share a common premise: as an audience watches, comedians view a movie that they deem to be of exceedingly poor quality and provide improvised and often sarcastic commentary to elicit audience laughter.

Ben Wilke, comedian and co-owner of Deep End Films in Grand Rapids, is organizing the event, which comes after previous incarnations ran for over a year at Dog Story Theater as “DST2K” for the theater’s Monday Night Comedy events. For the Wealthy Street show, Wilke will be a commentator alongside three other area comedians: Nardos Osterheart, Joe Anderson and D.K. Hamilton. Hamilton was dubbed “Funniest Person in Grand Rapids” by Grand Rapids Magazine in their latest awarding of the title.

“We used to do shows like this when I was doing comedy in Chicago,” says Wilke, who previously performed for three years as part of a Second City improv house team in Chicago. “It’s really laid back. We’ll talk about the movie before the show. [The movie’s] so bad you’ll laugh without us commenting. It’s like watching a horrible movie and commenting with your friends but your friends are really, really funny.”

Wilke says the combination of the positive response after performances at Dog Story Theater and conversations with Wealthy Theatre director Erin Wilson prompted the inclusion of the show as part of Wealthy Street Theatre’s LaughFest lineup.

“We’re hoping to kick the show off here,” he says. “We’re hoping to make it a bi-monthly show [at the Wealthy Street Theater].”

The positive response after DST2K initially screened “Black Fist,” a film about an African-American streetfighter starring Richard Lawson, ed to WST3K choosing to lampoon the film again at Wealthy Street Theatre. The comedians will be silhouetted on the movie screen through rear projection, allowing the audience to watch the film and the comedians simultaneously.

“[The film] is hilariously awful,” says Wilke. “[Audience members can expect] an ab workout from laughing. The movie is so bad it’s funny, and we’re so funny it’s bad.”

According to the LaughFest website the show is rated R for “adult content with some profanity/vulgarity,” which Wilke says is more attributable to the film content than the cast.

“It’s a film in the public domain and there’s some nudity scenes,” he says. “We don’t get super raunchy.”

The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Peter Wege Auditorium. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door or online.

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