For the month of June, we asked all of our writers to include a video in their piece.
Look at him. So delightfully awkward in green shorts and suspenders, a yellow hat, and a pair of dad shoes over white cotton socks. You might recognize him as Nate from The Office or Pryce from Better Call Saul, but this is one of the videos that jumpstarted his career. K-Strass the yo-yo master, a brilliant mix of Midwest awkward and careful comedic timing. I’m convinced there isn’t an “um” or “uh” that isn’t planned. It’s all part of the character, that character we’ve all met at some point or another: so-called professionals who are no good at what they claim to be at, like a magician who can’t hide a card.
K-Strass tells stories, and they might be the crux of his performance. In another video, he attempts more yo-yo tricks than he does in this one, but there’s always a story he has to tell first. He went to a school but the kids were misbehaving, or usually when he goes into a classroom he’s wearing a headset like a pilot, or sometimes he likes to perform a rap. These stories prime the local news anchor, and really they should know that this will all go wrong the moment K-Strass opens his mouth.
So what stops these news anchors from shutting it down early? With all their experience, they should sniff out a fraud within a few seconds. Part of it has to be the pressures and mores of television – the show must go on and all that. But we also have to recognize K-Strass’ skill as a comedian and prankster. He’s so real, so relatable. He’s just a nervous white guy in suspenders getting his 15 minutes of fame, and the anchors, and the audience, allow him that. If you watch the video above knowing it’s a prank and then again thinking it’s real, you’ll have two vastly different experiences.
I’ve watched the K-Strass videos countless times and with a religious-like fervor. I’ve shared them with my closest friends and with near strangers. Oddly enough, in my humble opinion, K-Strass gets mixed reviews. When I showed a few of these videos to my friend Jared, he laughed harder and longer than I’ve ever heard him laugh. When I showed one to the seniors a high school class I teach, hardly anyone made a sound.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, that when given the opportunity to share a video with the readers of the post calvin, I went with K-Strass. I almost posted a performance of a number from Hamilton in order to launch a conversation around immigration, difference, and re-narrating the past. There are probably a few reasons why I decided to forgo that route, one being my natural avoidance of confrontation and difficult discussions. But I’d like to think that the main reason is K-Strass’ gravitas, his can’t-look-away awkwardness, and the way he tells a story. K-Strass brings me joy, and I want to share that with the world.
“Actually I’ve only been in one school so far, uh, and I’ll be honest, it didn’t go so hot. Uh, in fact, it was literally a major disaster, because, uh, basically the kids didn’t like my stories, and it’s no surprise because they were running around most the time. And I’m sorry, I think there’s something to be said about how kids are brought up these days…”
Brad Zwiers (’12) graduated from Calvin College in 2012 and Western Theological Seminary in 2015. He will not be graduating from any more schools. He often stares at books he wishes he could read but knows he will not finish and goes for long walks with his wife, Gwyn. Sometimes he plays basketball and always he follows the greatest sporting club in the world, Liverpool F.C.