Even though it's been more than three weeks since NewsChannel 7's now-infamous interview with 'Yo-Yo Champion' Kenny Strasser, the story definitely reached its peak this week.
If you haven't been following the story, you can see our story from a few weeks ago, along with the original video of Kenny's appearance here, and hear more information on how it all started in Amy's Thursday interview with WDEZ.
Sunrise 7 wasn't the first morning show Kenny had duped. One of his arms was in a sling at WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. At WFRV-TV in Green Bay, and WISC-TV and WMTV-TV in Madison, he forgot the strings to his yo-yos, and so could only speak awkwardly about his school appearances, and simulate his stellar tricks.
Until this point, each station had just assumed Kenny was either severely over-hyped, or having a seriously bad day. Each station, understandably, simply removed any video of Kenny's appearance and hoped it would be forgotten. Because nothing had ever been written or posted about Kenny, when our Sunrise 7 team received press releases about him and searched his name for some background info, all they found was the Zim-zam Yo-yos website (which has since been removed) touting Kenny's tour and his abilities, and saying he was from Antigo, as their press release claimed. The Sunrise team even did a court record search for 'Kenny Strasser' (which I now have no doubt is NOT his real name), and found someone without any problems.
When he arrived at our studio, Kenny told Amy his father had just suffered a stroke, and so when the interview went as poorly as it did, they thought he may just have been horribly off his game. They wished him and his father well, and said goodbye.
But as the day went on and everyone had a chance to review the interview, we couldn't help but wonder if we had been duped. We contacted other stations, and realized the previously mentioned stations had been victims of similar, but slightly altered pranks. Even more stations had been approached by Kenny, and either had an interview scheduled, or had never booked one.
In the coming days, Zim-zam Yo-yos was gone, and a new site, Zip-Zap Toys appeared, touting their yo-yo champion, now named 'Karl Strassburg', and now from Kansas City. 'Karl', sometimes going by the nickname 'K-Strass', attempted to book an interview with our sister station, KOLN in Lincoln Nebraska (who had seen our story on Kenny), and made memorable appearances on KQTV in St. Joseph, MO, and KODE in Joplin, MO in the next few days.
Since then, there have been numerous theories, websites, and social networking accounts surrounding Kenny and Zim-Zam. Perhaps the most bizarre and interesting is this:
Tony Clifton, the alter-ego of comic genius Andy Kaufman, has his first live appearances in years scheduled at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, beginning this weekend. (Clifton was most often portrayed by Kaufman, but has also been portrayed by other actors) In the past few days, someone going by the name Kenny_Strasser on twitter has been claiming he's been asked to perform his yo-yo act with Tony Clifton for those shows. I contacted employees at The Comedy Store, who tell me they have been unable to confirm who the warm-up act is, and Clifton didn't give direct answers about the appearance. You can read about the rumors on The Comedy Store's Blog. Another rumor reported on their blog is that Jim Carrey (who potrayed Clifton and Kaufman in the film Man On the Moon) will portray Clifton for one of the shows.
Meanwhile, various facebook and twitter pages have popped up for Kenny Strasser and Zim-Zam Yo-Yos. The only ones I believe are legitimate are the Kenny "K-Strass" Strasser facebook page, the Zim-Zam Yo-Yos facebook page, and the zimzamyoyos twitter account. The guys behind those accounts have told me other accounts and variations on Kenny or K-Strass, including the one claiming he'll be appearing with Tony Clifton at The Comedy Store, are impostors. They claim a new video featuring Kenny will be released Monday, and they'll launch their official website, http://zimzaminc.com/, soon.
I think it's safe to say, after all this attention, his undercover T.V. yo-yo tour is over. I still believe, as I initially reported, that there's a connection to Joe Pickett of the Found Footage Festival. But the guys behind Zim-Zam are telling me the connection was small, and Pickett's no longer involved.
I'm learning new tidbits of info every day, and hope I have this all figured out eventually.