Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Seeing IS Believing
A fictitious yo-yo champion named K-Strass has been featured no fewer than 5 times on Midewest morning news shows to the horror of the anchors and amusement of audiences. You see Kenny Strassberg pulled a fast one. And he is brilliant.
In e-mail solicitations, K-Strass claimed to represent the world's only green yo-yo manufacturer and to be a professional at the obscure sport. His press release of sorts detailed a history of phony championships and awards and a positive message to people. And everyone loves a hard-luck story like the one K-Strass came with.
News shows, always hungry for a space-filler in the mornings, jumped at the chance to book someone of such a magnitude without bothering to check out the facts. For example, there is no Walt Greenberg award in yo-yo for K-Strass to have been nominated for. And those duped outlets quickly discovered he was absolutely terrible.
K-Strass vanished after discovery and everyone wants to know who he is. Turns out his agent Joe Guerke is really comedy filmmaker Joe Pickett and K-Strass may well be Pickett's business partner,Nick Prueher. They tour the country showing strange films and outtakes for the purpose of laughs. Mr. Prueher denies that he is, in fact, K-Strass. However his Found Footage Festival was not far from where the last news program placement took place. Curious.
This con was pure genius. Everyone wants to know who this guy is. Like Andy Kaufman and Sacha Baron Cohen before him, K-Strass pulled a comic sneak attack on the masses and wound up with a TON of free publicity. And the quick denial plays into the sense of want that we have to find out everything about a person and will just magnify his spotlight while he concocts his latest and greatest gag. This is elementary level marketing stuff kids. Give people a taste and leave them wanting for more.
The duped news programs feel slighted by the ruse, but they need not be, for they too garnered more national coverage than they could ever dream of in an instant. While they may feel stupid for failing to fact-check they scored laughs and ratings that only such a character can provide. This is indeed a fraud, but one calculated in such a non-malicious fashion that all benefit from it. If the message is a cautionary "don't believe what you read" tale, it has served its purpose. If it is a ploy for publicity, it worked. If it was simply for fun, it is classically hilarious.
Look out for Kenny Strassberg/Nick Prueher to lay low and then launch more similar gags to brighten his own star. He might just be the American answer to Borat. Or he may vanish into obscurity if that is what he desires, however I doubt that entirely. We love a good gag that borrows from the masters and is just different enough to make us take notice. If the character known as K-Strass markets himself correctly, he will be laughing all the way to the bank with the rest of us along for the ride.
Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously, and the Mystery Man is just the medium to convey the message.
Posted by Michel-Exildas Galipeau at 15:31