Rev. Matt + The First Annual Monster Science Awards

Reverend Matt—once called a combination of David Attenborough and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in MPR—played by local comedian Matthew Kessen, is the star of the long-running Reverend Matt’s Monster Science (‘part science, part comedy, all monsters’), a multimedia series of deep studies of the lore of monsters, infused with comedy jokes.

This Thursday the good Reverend debuts The First Annual Monster Science Awards, a magical, star-studded gala evening of the very best in horrifying monstrosities of 2021. The bash features co-host Elora Riley and recognizes all of the greatest achievements in monster creation and discovery of the year: Best Paleontology, Best Monster Toy, Best Kaiju Material, and more with an impressive supporting entertainment lineup. We check in with Matt ahead of the season’s most important awards show. 

DISPATCH: You’ve been doing Monster Science for quite a while (there’s a Secrets of the City recommendation from at least four years ago), but this is the first ever Monster Awards. Why now? Are the monsters finally award-worthy?
Rev. Matt:
 Yes; monsters, speaking generally, really, finally stepped up their game in 2021. Or no! No, of course monsters are always award-worthy. The actual genesis of this was that two really epic, legendary new prehistoric animals were discovered in 2021, and I wanted to celebrate that; and of course countless new monster things happen every year, in movies and comics and cryptozoology and literature and so on, so the exceptional paleontology year gave me an impetus to celebrate all of it.

Monsters are your life’s work—did you start the love affair at an early age? Was it dinosaurs? Kaijus? Scary movies?  
Yes, of course! I wonder if there is anyone out there in the world who didn’t really care for monsters as a young person, too frivolous for them, not really their thing, but developed a love for them as an adult. If so, this person sounds amazing and I would love to meet them. For me, it always has been all sorts of monsters—mythological, cryptozoological, cinematic, and so on—but, as my last answer hints at, dinosaurs and such have always been my first love. 

Are you a real Reverend? Or is it more like Dr. Dre is a doctor? 
I am; I’ve done thirty-odd weddings, in California, Montana, and Minnesota, where my ministerial credentials are registered with the state. I don’t believe in God or anything like that, though, so don’t worry. In fact, I am led to understand that some of my followers have developed a drinking game for watching my shows, and that one of the conditions is “drink any time the Reverend takes a gratuitous swipe at Christianity.”

Also, if no institute of higher education has yet given Dr. Dre an actual honorary doctorate, then truly we are a fallen society.

We *love* the idea that you’re hosting a formal awards show where not only is formal wear encouraged, but you have powerhouses like Leslie Vincent, Sam Landman, Carolyn Pool, and more joining you. How do they and your bloody cool cohost Elora Riley add to the party?
Elora is my Science Assistant; this is our third major collaboration, and she always brings an astonishing level of talent and enthusiasm to everything. In this case, in particular, she also brings a grace and sophistication that a gala awards events such as this really deserves, and which you can bet I sure won’t be bringing. The same is true of Leslie and Sam and Carolyn and all of the other humblingly A-list local performers who will be accepting the awards on the behalf of the various monsters and monster creators. I was also going to say that they bring legitimacy to the proceedings, but of course nothing is more legitimate than giving small plastic awards to imaginary creatures.

As people, how much of our everyday social facade covers up the real monsters that reside within each and everyone of us? 
One hundred percent. I mean. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. Except for Levar Burton; he seems really nice. 

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