A few weeks ago, we were reminded that Mark Proksch, the actor best known now for his roles on shows like What We Do In The Shadows and The Office, visited a bunch of news stations back in 2010 pretending to be an environmentally concerned yo-yo expert named Kenny “K-Strass” Strasser.
Now, thanks to Proksch’s collaborator and The Found Footage Festival’s co-founder Joe Pickett, a pair of previously unseen K-Strass appearances have been uploaded to YouTube, hopefully to inspire a new generation of youth to learn the importance of recycling and string-handling.
In the new clips, Kenny is interviewed about his vital work at schools across the country. Getting “the 800 pound yo-yo” out of the way after showing up for one appearance with one arm in a cast, K-Strass says he had an accident that involved running late for a show, being hypoglycemic, and getting an airbag to the face in his car.
He also warns that yo-yos are “off the Richter scale when it comes to lead,” describes tricks he created in honor of his late uncle and Michael Jackson, and how basic technique can be taught by imagining that the yo-yo is reaching down into a well to save Baby Jessica.
Over email, Pickett explained that he’d forgotten that he had the above clips until the K-Strass videos resurfaced last month, but that he “realized I missed a lot of gold on these tapes.”
Pickett, who himself appeared in another series of morning news pranks, also described some of the background for the character, which comes from Mark Proksch having “easily ... the best dumb guy impression on the planet,” which they used in videos they made before and after attending college together at University Of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
“Kenny was just an extension of Mark’s finely honed imbecile character,” Pickett writes, and the idea for his appearances came from Pickett and The Found Footage Fest’s Nick Prueher realizing how easy it was to get booked on morning shows while promoting their work in the mid 2000s.
“Mark and I were living in Milwaukee around 2010 and came up with a character that morning news shows couldn’t resist,” he continues. “We sent out a few press releases about Kenny Strasser ... and the shows gobbled it up.”
Pickett writes that the original K-Strass plan was “12 morning news appearances [with] a story arc throughout about Kenny getting fired from his employer, Zim-Zam Yo-Yo’s” but that “the jig was up” once the project went viral after the seventh TV spot.
Though Pickett and Prueher would end up in legal trouble for their morning news pranks as two strong men named Chop and Steele, the K-Strass fallout was limited to “getting one angry phone call from a producer in Wisconsin” while a few other producers just “thought it was funny.”
For more of Pickett’s work, watch the Chop and Steele morning show saga in Volume 9 of the Found Footage Fest compilation series. Full K-Strass appearances (and a wealth of other videos) are also available through Found Footage Fest’s streaming service, Super Long Play Club.
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