I spoke with Boston-based lefty comic Matthew Filipowicz the last time he and Josh Bolotsky brought their “Mystery Science Theater 3000”-style evisceration of the first Atlas Shrugged film to the Hub, back in November 2013. At the time, their plan was “to make one of the worst films ever made actually fun to watch,” and to “slowly but surely advance our crypto-communist agenda on an unsuspecting public.”
With those missions accomplished, and with successful Atlas Riffed gigs under their belt in New York and Chicago, the duo is back to tear up Atlas Shrugged Part II: The Strike, also based on the 1957 selfish bastard playbook by Ayn Rand. Their series is one of the most exciting and hilarious running jokes in progressive humor, and it’s awesome that they’re back in the area, this time on Saturday (1.17) at ImprovBoston in Cambridge. I shot Filipowicz a few questions for a preview of the thrashing that awaits …
CF: Have you been at some kind of party or dinner recently where it came up that you do this with someone who actually adores Ayn Rand?
MF: It does happen. Ayn Rand’s writing speaks to many people’s inner 12-year-old. When you’re young and really self absorbed and you think that literally the entire world is plotting against you. Most people grow out of that. Some don’t and join the Tea Party.
CF: In the process of doing these, do you maybe think about Ayn Rand a little more than you should?
MF: Anything over a passing thought is thinking more about Ayn Rand than one should. But, like it or not, her work has a legacy that has caused a lot of pain for the poor and working class around the world, so, unfortunately, we have to think about her. Though, if one is going to think about her by watching these films, one should only do it under comedic supervision. With professional comedic guidance we can make these bat shit crazy right wing concepts tolerable and hysterical.
CF: As a lefty comic, if we took Ayn Rand away from you, would it be like taking weed away from a hip-hop artist?
MF: It would be tough, but one would be able to find other modes of inspiration. Sean Hannity could be your LSD. Rand Paul could be your whippets.
CF: If Atlas Shrugged Part I was the worst movie of all time, how is it possible that Atlas Shrugged Part II is even worse?
MF: Atlas Shrugged Part I is one the worst films ever made. Yet, Atlas Shrugged Part II manages to make Part I look like Citizen Kane. I really didn’t think that was possible. The film fails in every conceivable way. Poorly acted, poorly written, poorly directed. I can’t be sure but I’m pretty sure the film was poorly catered. The actors all look tired and malnourished.
CF: Seriously though. What is the difference between the first and the second one?
MF: Well, for starters, between Part I and Part II they replace the entire cast. Not one actor. Not two actors. The entire fucking cast. We have some theories as to why they did this. One is that maybe the entire cast went Galt. They saw the first one and decided there’s no way in hell we’re going to be in the next right wing shit burger. Theory two is that the producer figured he could get another cast for less money. The first film was a financial failure, so according to Objectivism, those moocher actors don’t deserve to keep their jobs.
The second one also has not one but two Robocop villains in bit roles. Ray Wise and Paul McCrane, who is the guy who gets dumped in toxic waste by Robocop. Also, the film was co-written by a writer whose main past credits include a couple of “Walker, Texas Ranger” episodes, so you can imagine how good the dialogue is.
CF: Considering that the Atlas Shrugged movies have entirely different casts from one to the next, not a single repeat offender … Did you feel like you should have maybe taken on a third comic or something to shake things up? You know, just to keep up with them?
MF: Maybe we can replace ourselves with less funny people for the third.
CF: What should people wear?
MF: Tuxedos. Ball gowns. Anything that makes you feel like a selfish right wing asshole. You can bring your own globe and shrug.
CF: So I assume this means we will eventually see you back for a third installment?
MF: Altas Shrugged joins its place in the pantheon of great film trilogies. Cannonball Run. Look Who’s Talking. Crocodile Dundee. And yes, like Ayn Rand’s horrible ideologies, we aren’t going anywhere.
The commentary on the film will take place Saturday, January 17th at ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Cambridge MA at 4pm. Tickets are $12 or $10 with the code RIFF15 and can be purchased HERE.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.