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Tom LenkTom Lenk - Former ‘Buffy’ actor shares insight into Hollywood world
By Alexis Matsui
Monday 17 January 2005, by Webmaster
Intimacy, humor of one-man show compensate for awkward moments
Tom Lenk has had plenty of success in the acting business as a costar on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." He’s also had plenty of support from fans, and, at one point in his career, he had freakishly skinny arms.
Before attending UCLA’s theater program and then becoming Andrew Wells on "Buffy," Lenk had both a modeling career and quite an ego. But perhaps the most important thing Lenk has to offer is a pleasantly sardonic sense of humor about his rocky road to semi-stardom. The young actor has recently taken up Hollywood’s Acme Comedy Theatre and has decided to turn his wisdom, woes and anecdotes into a concise but effective one-man show.
With simple keyboard accompaniment and a low-budget stage set, Lenk’s "Will You Be My Special Friend?" models TV’s "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" as he moves through a series of themes and stories of growing up, with a little help from a few surprise guests.
While the show is sometimes a little unprofessional, these slipups are obviously intentional and add to the show’s relaxed tone. Some of Lenk’s show is clearly geared toward personal friends and family who will undoubtedly fill a portion of the small theater, providing the show with an intimate atmosphere.
Lenk shares hysterical pictures and creepy fan mail, among other things. Before acting in Los Angeles, Lenk was a high school student in Westlake Village, where he enjoyed tons of self-promoted media attention as a young actor and director.
In another hysterical section of his show, Lenk discusses the touching, if odd, behavior of his parents, showing pictures of his father’s bizarre hobbies and sharing his mother’s charming poetry.
Different people come on and off the set to shake things up once in a while, but generally, Lenk is funniest on his own. The character of his elderly superintendent, for example, played by Patty Wortham, comes off as forced and slightly unnecessary, despite her few comedic moments.
Tom also spends a significant portion of his show reading comments from audacious teenage girls, who rated him on Alloy.com’s "Crush of the Week." While the comments are often hilarious, the segment itself gets a little tedious as he continues to read nasty and deriding notes about himself.
Still, the show’s interesting insight into the austere Hollywood world makes it intriguing for those of us on the outside. Visits from fellow actors and funny comments about Internet egos keep the show interesting, and its duration of just over an hour is the perfect time for a brief visit with a one-hit wonder.
Ultimately, the show’s informal format and Lenk’s natural charisma help to forgive its small kinks and sections of overindulgence. Lenk has a down-to-earth personality and a dynamic stage presence to match it, and the show becomes both a powerful story of a man’s most awkward moments and an intimate encounter with an artist. Although Lenk’s life has lead him to a career that few are privileged to enjoy, his moments of adolescence, disappointment and joy are so well expressed that they are impossible not to relate to.