Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester

Mary Jo Pehl (pronounced "Peel") is an American actress and writer. She is best know for her portrayal of the sinister Pearl Forrester, mother of Dr. Clayton Forrester on Mystery Science Theater 3000. She also served as one of the show's writers.


Early life[]


Mary Jo's Tater Tot Hot Dish

Mary Jo was born on February 27, 1960 in Circle Pines, Minnesota. She grew up with four siblings and, initially, pursued a career in nursing. Eventually she decided she had made a "major bad career choice" (she hated the sight of blood) and pursued a career in comedy.[1]

She would go on to appear on VH-1's Stand-Up Spotlight and A&E's Comedy on the Road.

Mystery Science Theater 3000[]

Mary Jo joined the writing staff of MST3K in 1992. For her, the show matched up well with her interest in bad movies "the ineptitude of the people who make them".[1]

She made several appearances as various guest characters, as well as portraying Magic Voice, before debuting as Pearl Forrester in Bloodlust!. The following season, after the departure of Frank Conniff as TV's Frank, Pearl became a regular, starting with the "Turkey Day" edition of Experiment #701 - Night of the Blood Beast.

When the show returned for Season 8 on The Sci-Fi Channel, Pearl was promoted to lead "Mad", a role Mary Jo continued until the end of the original run of the show.

At 2016's San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Mary Jo would reprise her role of Pearl Forrester for an appearance on the revived Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was also announced that she would contribute to the writing of several episodes. Mary Jo ultimately appeared as Pearl in 3 episodes of Season 11.

In 2021, Mary Joel Pehl joined Joel Hodgson and other members of the new series casts for the #MakeMoreMST3K​: Livestream #III, which featured a screening of Experiment #913 - Quest of the Delta Knights. During the event, it was announced that Mary Jo would return in the new series as Pearl Forrester in some capacity. She appeared briefly as Pearl in the season premiere, and in the subsequent special Manos Tribute. She also appears in many of the Madvertisements.


Following the end of MST3K, Mary Jo joined several other former cast and crew in the production of the web series The Adventures of Edward the Less in 2001 for the Sci-Fi Channel's web site.

In 2007, Mary Jo joined Joel Hodgson, Josh Weinstein, Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff in the riffing project Cinematic Titanic, appearing in all twelve of the project's DVD releases and touring with the group through 2014.

Also in 2007, Mary Jo Pehl recorded a RiffTrax audio track with Mike Nelson for the film Glitter. She has since become a regular writer and performer for RiffTrax, recording a popular series of RiffTrax Presents feature films and shorts with Bridget Nelson (including a new version of Angels Revenge).

In 2010, Mary Jo appeared in the "interactive movie" Darkstar, which also included several other MST3K alumni.

In fall of 2014, Pehl appeared in the DVD-music video comedy short The Frank along with other MST3K members.

In 2015, she released Songs in the Key of B Movies, an EP of songs inspired by various films from the MST3K canon.

In 2016, Pehl co-created the proposed half-hour comedy series Renfest, which also features Trace Beaulieu and Dave (Gruber) Allen.

In 2018, Mary Jo Pehl began producing and starring in the webseries Ruth Larson Lives!, a parody of lifestyle vlogs, as well as appearing on a podcast, 3rd and 40 alongside Emily Ziring and Ken Dahler.

In 2019, Mary Jo produced a pilot for a new webseries called America Obscurious. The project is a mockumentary about bizarre phenomena featuring Kevin Murphy and Trace Beaulieu.[2]

Mary Jo Pehl joined the Mads for a Q&A session after their livestream event of a second Night of Shorts in 2021. She joined them again in 2022 after their presentation of The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

In 2021, Mary Jo began a Twitch channel, primarily for The Mary Jo Pehl Show, a variety/chat show featuring Mary Jo and various guests and comic sketches. The channel also hosts Movie Jo Night, where Mary Jo watches a movie, reacting to it live.



Regular roles[]

Guest appearances[]

Personal quotes[]

  • "The atmosphere in the writers’ room was cacophonous. There was no pausing to say, “Let me add to that joke.” And the typist had to transcribe everything that he or she could catch. Sometimes we’d be stopped on a frame for a good 10, 15 minutes because there were so many jokes."
  • "That considerably reduced our movie pool. And they were also more attentive when it came to reviewing the scripts. They went through them for standards and practices. Somebody objected to our using the word putz."
  • "Around 2001, I went to a movie theater, and two people in front of me were talking. And the person in front of them turned around and asked them to shut up, and said, “This isn’t Mystery Science Theater, you know.” That was the first taste I got of the show’s lasting effect."
  • "The idea of riffing, of mocking, of commenting on things is very prevalent nowadays. Obviously, it was happening before Mystery Science Theater codified it. But it just seems to have pervaded a lot of the way comedy is done now—it’s its own genre now. The one thing that I do find a little disheartening—and I don’t know if we started the ball rolling on this—is that nothing is sacred anymore."

External links[]