'Better Call Saul’s Proksch Goes Around the World With Yo-Yo Trick
One of the more memorable characters—and certainly the most memorable vehicle—in this young season of Better Call Saul on AMC is hapless drug dealer Daniel Wormald, who—and there are spoilers just ahead—loses some valuable baseball cards in a break-in. He then loses his gorgeous yellow Hummer, flame decals and all, which muscle-man Mike Ehrmantraut memorably describes as “a blinking neon sign of a vehicle that says drug dealer.”
Wormald is played by Mark Proksch, who I wrote about on the B&C site many, many years ago, though I—and many—did not know his name. Proksch had an alter-ego named K-Strass who punked several Midwestern TV stations, going on their morning shows in green shorts, suspenders and a psychopathic blank stare, to do yo-yo tricks and talk about his efforts to teach kids about the environment. But the true trick was, K-Strass couldn’t actually work a yo-yo (in one appearance, he realizes he’s forgotten his yo-yo string; in others, he maims himself with his yo-yo), and instead uses the air time to tell the befuddled anchor, and viewer, the sad tale of his life.
It’s a heady mix of Ali G and the Jerky Boys. I really can’t describe these bizarre pieces of performance art, but YouTube can. I’ll just say that, if you’re ever having a bad day and need a pick-me-up, they are truly hysterical.
And that’s how the writers on The Office felt about them; showrunner Paul Lieberstein invited Proksch to come out to Los Angeles to meet the gang, and a few months later, Proksch was playing the warehouse doofus Nate on the NBC comedy.
“I was living in Milwaukee and had no inkling about having a career here in Hollywood,” says Proksch, who notes that he also met his wife on The Office.
Proksch says K-Strass was one of many characters he would play to amuse his friends. He would stay in character the entire time he was visiting the TV station, right up until the show went to commercial and the anchor inevitably stormed away from the dud of a guest. “I did that character for 10 or 15 years,” he says. “I know that character back and forth.”
The Office gig led to an audition for Better Call Saul. Proksch says there’s some common ground between K-Strass and Wormald; he calls them both “arrogant idiots” full of “false bravado.”
Besides Saul, Proksch has a recurring role in the new Fox comedy Son of Zorn, starring Jason Sudeikis, and has a pilot being considered at Comedy Central. He’s also in the cast of the horror comedy film Another Evil that will play at South By Southwest.
Proksch says his local TV appearances from the late Aughts are entirely responsible for his showbiz success. “Make a jackass of yourself,” he says with a laugh, “and it can pay off.”
And the one truthful part of his old local TV clips is Proksch’s yo-yo skills, or lack thereof. “I’m terrible at yo-yo,” he says. “I don’t like yo-yo.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
By Jens Koerner