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Austin troupe spends evenings making fun of movies -- and getting paid for it.

Photo: Mr. Sinus Theater
Photo: Mr. Sinus Theater

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Photo: Mr. Sinus Theater

It's happened to everyone. You're sitting in your local movie theater, minding your own business, trying to watch a movie, when you hear it -- the unmistakable sound of the moviegoer's greatest annoyance, the heckler. Try as you might, you can't seem to ignore this person who seems hell-bent on making sure you can't hear a single word of the film over their commentary.

Now, Austinites are paying for that opportunity.

Photo: Mr. Sinus Theater

But these aren't your ordinary hecklers. Comedians Owen Egerton, John Erler and Jerm Pollet -- the boysof Mr. Sinus Theater -- are actually more

entertaining than the films they mock. In their sold-out shows at the Alamo Drafthouse downtown, the group takes down

movies such as Top Gun, Xanadu and Dirty Dancing, with skits, songs and yes, heckling.

"Austin is full of geeky people who read books and like to talk back to movies," says Erler.

"So, the geeky people, who are into references, they love that type of stuff, and they also love to see Hollywood taken down a few notches," Egerton adds.

However, Mr. Sinus Theater didn't start out busting down blockbusters.

Photo: Mr. Sinus Theater

"When we first started, we were using, in a very rough way, the model of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000," Erler says. "So, they would do old '60s and 1950s B movies, with real low budgets . . . Those were fun times doing those kind of bad movies that nobody had seen before, but then at a certain point we started doing bigger budget movies from Hollywood. We did Xanadu, and that's when people started really packing the theater. We sold out pretty much every show of Xanadu. Before then, we were playing the half-full theaters."

Mr. Sinus isn't just about making fun of movies, though. It's also about creating a unique audience experience.

"There is that sense of community," says Pollet. "There is an intimacy to the show. It's nice. I think that people want more intimacy and participation when they go out. It's fun to be in a movie theater and yell out loud or to get to know the person next to you or just to laugh together. It's great."

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Susan Babb is a senior in Radio, Television and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently a production intern for KLRU, working specifically with Austin Now. In the past, she has had experience writing, producing and hosting a live television show for KVR-TV. Susan will be graduating in December and hopes to pursue a career in television.

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