Frank Conniff at Dragon*Con 2008
August 30, 1956 |
New York City
Frank Conniff, Jr. (born August 30, 1956) is an American writer and actor who is best known for his portrayal of TV's Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). He is the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor Frank Conniff.
Although a native of New York City, where he had accumulated some experience in stand-up comedy, Conniff found himself in Minneapolis in the mid-80's undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse, according to a 2007 interview. He stayed in the city following treatment, working simultaneously at a fast-food restaurant and in local comedy clubs. Eventually he won out-of-town engagements across the upper Midwest. It was during this period that he struck up friendships with future MST3K stalwarts Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Bridget Jones and others, as well as Lizz Winstead, later co-creator of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central network. Conniff was appearing in a North Dakota venue when he was informed by MST3K head writer Nelson of his selection as the replacement for one of the show's originals, J. Elvis Weinstein.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
From the second through sixth seasons of MST3K's run on Comedy Central, Conniff played TV's Frank, one of the "mads" (short for "mad scientists") along with Dr. Clayton Forrester (played by Trace Beaulieu). During his years with the program, Conniff was also part of the writing team, and the individual responsible for screening and selecting many of the films shown.
Work after MST3K
After leaving MST3K behind, Conniff went on to become executive story editor for the popular ABC series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. He made a few on-air appearances on the show, most notably as "Rootie Kazootie", a baby-turned-adult due to Sabrina's wishing spell. He later showed up as a writer and later as head writer on the Nickelodeon TV series Invader Zim. Invader Zim was cancelled in the middle of its second season, but received positive critical reception during its run. In the summer of 2005 Conniff provided the voice for legendary cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody in two episodes of The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd. He has made many appearances on 'Dr. Floyd'.
Currently, Conniff hosts Cartoon Dump, a monthly comedy/music revue that ends by showcasing some of the worst cartoons of all time, at The Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles. Recently, fellow Mystery Science Theater alum Joel Hodgson joined the cast, creating his own puppet, "Dumpster Diver Dan".
In 2011, he was one of the contributing writers and performers on the Jimmy Dore show.
On October 30, 2007, original MST3K host Joel Hodgson announced he was starting a new show with the same "riffing on bad movies" premise as MST3K called Cinematic Titanic, together with former MST3K cast and crew members Conniff, Beaulieu, Weinstein, and Mary Jo Pehl. Conniff continued to tour with Cinematic Titanic until they stopped touring in December 2013.