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Yo-Yo man strings along TV morning shows

May 7, 2010 7 comments

Yo-yo champion in town preaching his “green” message to schoolchildren stops by the local morning TV news show. What could go wrong?

Let’s go to the tape.

Takes a minute to soak in. And it raises a lot of questions, chief of which is: “Is this guy for real?”

Any time we ask that question, the initial answer is typically, “No way.”

But there was something about this guy. He didn’t pitch anything. No, “Here’s my website,” or “Buy my DVD.”

Plus, he was just weird enough to be real.

It is 2010. Perhaps he intended to rely on the Google magic. Business plan?

1) Pose as aloof environmental activist/yo-yo champion on small-market morning TV news show.

2) Go by a weird nickname that no one else will own, SEO-wise or otherwise.

3) Profit?

Several of us at the station surface-Googled the guy. Those quick searches only turned up one link: a publicity page for K-Strass that looked somewhat legit.

Let’s go to the tape again.

No way this guy’s for real. For real?

Throughout the day, I wrestled with the seemingly real reactions. The way he responded to the anchors didn’t come off as scripted. (How about those anchors, by the way? They handled that situation as well as anyone could have.)

I didn’t notice it until my second viewing, but after K-Strass hits himself with the yo-yo, Ariane asks how long he’s been practicing. His response: “When did Schubert Dip come out?”

Then and there, I started thinking, “He’s Unbelievable.”

My journalism training made me a skeptic. My obsession with Lost made me think the fake yo-yo guy deliberately dropped an obscure 1990s album title as a hint about his believability.

Later in the day, while I was doing Live at Five, Kent Heier cracked the case and lived to tweet about it. This wasn’t K-Strass’s first rodeo.

There we had it. A nice, tidy wrap-up to the story to coincide with the end of my work day.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What was this guy trying to sell? A stand-up comedy act? Environmentalism? Yo-yos?

I went back to the site that Google gave us earlier. In addition to the publicity blurb for our new buddy, K-Strass, it had links about green living and stats on environmentally-unfriendly toys.

Could it be? Was this whole thing Gallagher-meets-Greenpeace? A cleverly-planned publicity stunt that capitalizes on search-engine-optimization strategy to drive traffic and attention to a five-page website of “green” tips and statistics?

Or is the website just part of the front to perpetuate the hoax, so the comedian can continue to make morning-show appearances?

Hard to say. But K-Strass is for real — even if it’s just in the arena of strategic attention-grabbing.