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NERDING DAY

Nerding Day: The Mortal Kombat Live Tour Promo 🌭

I’m really going to do it. I’m going to write 2,000 words about a six-minute interview between Los Angeles weatherman Mark Kriski-

And his interviewee-

That’s Sidney Liufau, a Polynesian martial artist who you might recognize from nothing. This, I guess. If you needed a Pacific Islander leading man, which the 1990s rarely did, he could stand in the background and be Chinese or whatever. He had bit parts in Bloodsport III, Blade, and was actually in the Mortal Kombat movie as Shang Tsung! … … … ‘s unnamed henchman. His biggest role was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the episode where Worf married Dax. He played the erotic Fire Dancer at an alien parasite’s bachelorette party.

Sidney’s chance to step into a major role came with the Mortal Kombat Live Show, because this was 1996, and studio executives figured if you wanted to watch Ninja Turtles or Thundercats or Mortal Kombats or whatever, you probably also wanted to watch somebody who kind of looked like them sing a song about friendship in a hockey rink. Local news affiliates fucking loved live shows because every time one swept through town, they could kill 5 minutes of show for the cost of a craft services table (accidentally pictured below).

This puff piece opens with thirty seconds of adequate stage fighting. The frantic techno Mortal Kombat theme plays. It is 8:31 in the morning. It is officially too early for this shit.

Right from the jump, we can see this promo is not going well. This appearance is beneath both Sidney Liufau and Mark Kriski, and they’re both in a race to see who can make the other acknowledge that first.

These two are the stars of this unfolding disaster, but they’re not the full cast. Let’s check in on your Mortal Kombat Players!

Everyone knows our first warrior, he’s the white drama kid earning Experience Credits, it’s-

Seen here wielding nunchucks he made from dowels and twine like he’s me in the sixth grade, it’s criminal mastermind-

Looking pretty good from afar, just don’t get too close to the-

Or you’ll see his mask looks like papier mache bananas made by Outworld children at remedial summer camp. This isn’t Scorpion, it’s-

A last minute replacement, it’s the hairdresser who owed his hungover stuntman boyfriend a BIIIIG favor, meet-

Fresh off the set of a Rage Against the Machine video where they played Socialist Raver #17 and On Call Crowd Filler (Uncalled), it’s-

Baraka should have full prosthetic make-up and blade arms or at least something, anything at all, while Kabal should definitely not have a military surplus vest, but I guess nunchuck twine is shockingly expensive.

That’s not the full cast, but we’ll meet Sonya Blade later in deeply unfortunate circumstances.

You know how these segments go: The real reporters can’t be assed, so it falls to the weatherman to toss an adult in foam suspenders softballs like “what kind of good time should children expect from Mortal Kombat Live?” But Mark Kriski absolutely does not give a shit about how well this piece goes. He’s vaguely heard something controversial about Mortal Kombat, and you know what? Maybe this is his chance to show he’s more than just a weatherman and host of Kooky Kriski’s Wild Wacky Animal Corner every Sunday from 6:15AM to 6:20AM.

He calls it a video, so he might not even know what a video game is, he definitely doesn’t know this is from one. It’s possible Mark Kriski thinks these people are Mortal Kombat, and they’re some kind of brutal dance troupe famous for their stage gore. Regardless, he leaps at this chance to fire some hardballs right down the gullet of a sleepy career extra.

Now, surely the Mortal Kombat Live showrunners understood the controversy around Mortal Kombat. The pearl-clutching morality police of the ‘90s, fearing their own increasing irrelevance, made that game a crusade. It was under constant fire to justify its own existence, of course the higher-ups would have coached their cast before all TV appearances. Take it away, Sidney:

He is a possum playing chicken with an 18-wheeler. Sidney has been coached on up to seven Mortal Kombat puns and nothing else. Now he has to wing an eloquent answer for a bad faith moral campaign.

Those of you with social anxiety might recognize this as a nightmare. Just an audible nightmare coming from somebody’s mouth on live television. To say nothing important, or to sidestep the question entirely would have been one thing. To reflexively fall back on positive martial arts talking points when you’re playing a guy who eats souls is what those of you with improv training will recognize as a nightmare again.

But shit. He got through it, right?

Mark Kriski takes one step forward, three steps back, and high punches.

This is quite possibly the worst thing that ever happened to Sidney Liufau and he was an extra on You, Me, and Dupree. This is a strong, confident adult man who got dressed up like 4th place in an elementary school costume contest and he’s getting dunked on by a weatherman. That’s so humiliating it’s somebody’s fetish now. They call it Krisking and you can buy special leather blazers for it on Etsy.

I’m not here to take Sidney Liufau to task. Mark Kriski is winning but it’s like watching the Washington Generals shut out the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s no fun, against the natural order of things, and possibly a hate crime. The morality panics of the ‘80s and ‘90s were in as bad faith as they are today, and Kriski is only doing this because he’s hungry. He knows the anchor desk is where you pull the real tail, and there’s no such thing as a weather groupie. Sidney Liufau is not trained for this, he shouldn’t have to be, he’s on the spot, he has a lot of excuses… but he still might have just said the dumbest thing in knowable human history. Saying Mortal Kombat’s main message is teaching children to be concerned about violence is like saying the real point of Doom is to make Sunday School fun for toddlers.

Mark somehow lets Sidney bail without pressing that terrible answer. He does not grill Shang Tsung about how he just said that ripping out video game spines is an educational tool to keep kids out of fistfights. Either there’s mercy yet in Kriski’s dark heart, or he wants to skip to the part where Sonya Blade beats him up. I can’t tell which is the real answer, so let’s check Mark’s body language-

The clenched teeth smile, the little fists gripping the cuffs of his own blazer. Mark Kriski looks like he just found out that big box under the tree is a Playstation. This is what a dog does when you open a pack of bacon. A beautiful young woman is going to beat the hell out of him at his place of business and the only reason Mark Kriski is not visibly hard is because he just came and your refractory period ain’t the same in your ‘40s.

Mark interrupts the instructions to walk right up to Sonya and point at her body parts. He talks to everybody in the room but her about how hot he finds them. This is how you find out that thing has a hemi at a car show, it’s not how you react to a human being. This is a man who has absolutely been thrown out of a shoe store. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading the situation wrong. Let’s check in with Sonya’s body language-

That’s Kerri Hoskins, the actual motion capture model for the original Sonja Blade. She’s a Playboy playmate too, which means she has a Master’s Degree in Received Creepery and she’s going for a Doctorate in Unwelcome Touches. She’s not taken aback because of what Kriski said. Vanilla Ice has said ten times worse in the grotto, and praising someone’s six-pack is fine in most scenarios – if they didn’t want you to notice their abs they’d eat bread. It’s the fact that Mark broke a news segment to walk over and yell to his ancestors about the hot meat he found. Anybody would be thrown by that, because it’s madness. Kerri’s also been diagnosed as on the spectrum, so she might struggle some with social cues. Going on live TV to have a weatherman aha her body parts like he’s just found Waldo is an unsolvable social dilemma. And Mark isn’t done! It’s like he’s just discovered ogling, this might be his first ogle and he’s trying to explain to everybody what he invented. He starts to go on about Kerri’s body again and Liufau actually says-

What! What a fucking champion, holy shit! I’d say this is revenge for Kriski putting him on the spot earlier, but Sidney Liufau says that with the automatic authority of someone who has bounced for a stripclub. He’s a man very comfortable using his size to enforce a woman’s physical boundaries, and I’m going to go ahead and guess that if he’s an LA local, this ain’t even his first dance with Mark. He might have Kriski protocols and special holds that make use of a poorly tailored blazer.

The demonstration must go on, despite the dangers we have established: A scantily clad, very hot young woman within strangling distance of a mediocre middle-aged white man in a position of authority. We really should’ve seen what happens next coming.

Now, to be fair Liufau tells Mark “this is what happens when you try to go for her neck,” and gives him the nod. But nobody expected him to GO for it. That is not the lunging strangle of a first time woman strangler. Everybody knows what these martial arts demonstrations are – you move in slowly so they can show you some choreography that almost looks like fighting. But Mark Kriski just saw the last nut before winter and he didn’t give a shit that the hawk was circling. He charges past Sidney, gets to Kerri’s neck, and starts squeezing.

She’s once again thrown off – all the careful anti-choke strategies she uses on Pauly Shore at the Playboy Mansion go straight out the window. For just a fraction of a second, for one brief, insane moment, we watch the Channel 5 weatherman strangle a half-naked autistic woman on live television while six men dressed like video game characters idle helplessly. Mark Kriski will never beat this moment. You can see it carve into his brain like a muscle memory. He’ll be able to recall every second of this every single time the r/Strangling subreddit leaves him soft.

Then Kerri gets back in the game, throws her memorized stage combo, and Mark Kriski mock retreats to tuck his erection up behind his JCPenney belt.

The post orgasmic clarity hits Mark and he stammers through the rest of the interview. That hungry sleuth ready to nail a fire dancing himbo to the wall for video game violence is gone. In his place is a reedy and awkward Mark Kriski, most of his brain working on what to tell his wife about this. “I tripped going in, honey – you know these loafers are slippery! It’s just like that time in Foot Locker, darn it all sometimes you just stumble and a college student’s foot winds up in your mouth. We’ve been over this!”

He hops over to interview Kerri Hoskins about nothing, which was also clearly not in the game plan. Mark Kriski is trying to sell a sense of normalcy he does not feel after the real Mark briefly exploded out of its Kriski shell. I actually can’t tell if Kerri’s buying it, let’s check in on her body language-

Mark Kriski better memorize that expression, he’s going to see it again – first on his producer after the segment ends, and then again on his wife when he gets home.

Right as they cut away to commercial, Mark goes back in for some playfighting with Kerri Hoskins. He does a mocking crane kick pose, which we all recognize means “this karate stuff is bullshit garbage for children and fuck you for thinking otherwise.” Kerri steps in on him in a way that says less “sure, I’ll play” and more “I’m planting my feet for an uppercut.”

Decades later, Mark Kriski would be involved in another scandal with everybody’s favorite comedian, Kathy Griffin. If, totally unprompted, he just jumped in and started strangling again I think we as a culture would have been fine with that. But that’s not what happened: Mark interrupted during perhaps the only valid and reasonable point Kathy Griffin has ever made, that older women are vastly underrepresented in comedy, and said it wasn’t true. He wasn’t even doing the interview! He butt in to a separate segment somebody else was filming just to Well, Actually a woman comedian about women and comedy. Kathy shut him straight down by asking him to name five, he schooled her by naming zero, and then said “um, I’m not into the comedy thing.” The sole subject was comedy, Mark.

I don’t know, maybe if he’d gone and seen the 1996 Mortal Kombat Live Show he would’ve come out a changed man, I hear it had some really positive messages.

This article was brought to you by a hot Hot Dog tip from Cyberzone.

6 replies on “Nerding Day: The Mortal Kombat Live Tour Promo 🌭”

I grew up in LA and was of prime Kombat age at the time – I rented MKI but never actually got to play it since I got grounded the same day – but I don’t remember the live show at all.

Oscar winner and Punisher War Zone director Lexi Alexander played Princess Kitana in one of these stage shows. She would approve of Ms. Hoskins uppercutting that guy’s head into orbit.

I am pretty meeeh about Twin Peaks in general but that was definitely my favourite episode.

In the recent games, Mortal Kombat has been in favour of bringing back all the crazy lore from the past 25 or so years. It’s cool to see all the characters share the spotlight, old and new, famous and obscure. I can’t wait til mk12 when they bring back one of their most out-there villains, Mark Kriski.

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