The comedic quartet known as the of The Ministry of Unknown Science – Jason Berlin, Rico Gagliano, Eric Trueheart, Timothy Walker – are members of the over-educated, over-worked underclass that keep Hollywood afloat. They have degrees from places like Harvard and the American Film Institute and held previous positions as writers for various television programs.
After meeting at Burning Man, they have performed their science themed act around Los Angeles since 2001, often in their very secret “Theory Labs” – they took to blindfolding a reporter from the local media while driving him there. Sadly, the Minsitry had to abandon the labs in February 2006 because of a cease-and-desist order from the landlords citing excessive noise, a failure to adhere to fire safety regulations, and a lack of a dance permit, bringing an unfortunate halt to their experiments.
If you’ve enjoyed The State, or its less inspired offshoot, Stella, then Ministry material will seem familiar. The site has some 20 short clips with a now defunct rotating clip of the week – it’s currently stuck on “Rabbi Hirschfield, that Wascally Wabbi.
Most, though, are science, or science-fiction based – a field test of new testicle protection technology; riffs on 1950s-style educational videos; a group of overlords addressing their clone army as they prepare to attack the sun; and so on. Clips are short, and revolve around the four core members, their alter-egos – Doctor Fistula, Armitage Shanks, Professor T, and Cap’N Shady – and a small supporting cast, as they “conduct complex multi-media experiments in pursuit of results.” They take the whole scientist thing very seriously.
The themes of the skits lend themselves to some delightfully pathetic special effects – an observation that was not lost on the creators. The animation of the clone army approaching the sun in their very phallic looking ships is a B-movie highlight.