Tom Lenk gets ready for his first trip to Toronto.
If you tweet it, he will come. Actor/comedian Tom Lenk, best known for his portrayal of mildly evil, sexually ambiguous geek Andrew Wells on the seminal Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and a couple of episodes of Angel), has booked a one-night gig at Theatre Passe Muraille based entirely on requests that he come to town via Facebook and Twitter. Lenk promised that if the Facebook group Toronto wants to see Tom Lenk! got one hundred to two hundred members, he would book a venue. It’s a savvy use of social networking for an out-of-town act who wants to make sure he can sell a show, and it’s nice to know Toronto has such affection for the quirky and talented performer.
Lenk has been busy since Buffy wrapped in 2003. You might have seen his bit parts in Six Feet Under, House, How I Met Your Mother, and the first Transformers movie, and he’ll be appearing in next summer’s 3D horror-fest The Cabin in the Woods (which happens to be co-written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon). But he also has a busy career on stage, performing his solo shows in LA, New York, Portland, and Seattle, and being actively involved in LA’s comedy scene (his resume includes The Thrilling Adventure Hour, The Groundlings, and Mortified among others). Fans of current Mirvish hit Rock of Ages will be interested to know Lenk recently had a run as “Franz” on Broadway, after originating the character in the LA production. He’s also braved the world of internet videos, with a series of Broadway Blogs describing his time with Rock of Ages, a regular role on web series Border Patrol, and a Diablo Cody–bashing Chris Crocker parody that is easily the most hilarious product of the “Leave Britney Alone!” meme.
After the fold, Tom tells us about his new show, the perils of cult TV celebrity, and why he’s coming to Toronto.
Torontoist: You’ve got a unique approach to touring and booking venues—it’s kind of shocking to see Facebook used so practically. So far, the internet has demanded you come to Seattle, Portland, and now Toronto. What makes these cities Tom Lenk strongholds?
Tom Lenk: Studies have shown that these cities have good taste in alt-comedy/storytelling performers and after diagnostic research and testing via Twitter, it was determined that these cities had many Tom Lenk supporters and fans who demanded that he bring his show to their cities. And by he I mean me. It’s me: Tom. I’m writing this.
I perform with Paul F. Tompkins at Largo with The Thrilling Adventure Hour and was inspired by his Tompkins 300 approach to touring. If 300 people in a city join a Facebook group demanding that he bring his show to their town, he books a venue. So cool! I haven’t been as organized, though. I saw a bunch of Toronto people on Twitter get excited at the idea of me coming to do a show and I just thought I would chance it and see how it goes. Looks like it will be a great crowd!
Plus, I love having random adventures in foreign cities! I got drunk and made out with so many… I mean, I made so many new friends and met up with friends from high school during my Portland tour. It’s awesome to get to see the country and perform for people I’ve never met before. In LA, I am usually friendly with most of my audience, so it is awesome to perform for strangers! “A stranger’s just a friend that you haven’t meeeeeeeet! Streetcar!”
It’s neat that you were inspired by the Tompkins 300, because Toronto is actually the first place he tried that out—he did a couple of sold-out nights at the Rivoli last year. Have you been to Toronto before? Do you have any special plans for when you are here? Will you be getting rush tickets for Rock of Ages at the Royal Alex, or are you power chorded–out by this point?
I have never been to Toronto before so I’m totally jazzzzzzed! (Ew, gross… who says that?) It’s a quick trip, but hopefully I’ll get to eat some delicious native foods and consume local lusty beverages. I sadly won’t have any time to see ROA while I’m there. Though every time I hear one of the songs from the show on the radio, I intuitively start doing the choreography. So, I don’t know if I could watch ROA sitting down, I’d need to stand in the back where I could have some space to move.
My Toronto show is actually all about the crazy stuff that happened on and off stage during Rock of Ages in New York. It’s shocking/mortifying/hilarious. I can’t wait to allow everyone to laugh at my expense!
A lot of your Buffy fans might not be aware that you’ve performed on Broadway, but you’ve actually worked in a variety different media: film, TV, web series, and theatre—which is the coolest?
That’s like asking me which daughter I love the most. I refuse to answer because I don’t want Film and Theater to start fighting again! You know how they get! I love them all the same. (Except for Web-series… she’s my step daughter.)
It must be really amazing and also really weird to have been an important part of such a beloved and influential TV show. Whatever else you do, there will always be people for whom you are Andrew Wells first, Tom Lenk second. How do you feel about feel about spending the rest of your life having people ask you if Andrew was really gay, or if he felt bad for stabbing Jonathan? (By the way, was Andrew really gay? And did he feel bad for stabbing Jonathan?)
It was an AMAZING experience to get to be on such a ground breaking television show! I loved it so much and made so many close friends there. I feel lucky to have people associating me with a character from one of the best TV shows of all time. My encounters with people recognizing me as Andrew range from heartwarming to hilarious to offensive. And the offensive ones typically make good stories, so in the end I do enjoy them! These are the perks of being a fairly recognizable character actor and quasi-celebrity.
As the Internet is well aware, Joss Whedon is gonna be directing the Avengers movie. Let’s say he decided there was a Tom Lenk–shaped hole in the film and gave you a call—which Avenger would you want to play?
I’d happily play a dancing Christmas tree for Joss. That said, I’d like to play any character that wears a unitard… and flies. Can I fly? And if not fly I’d like to have lasers or fire shoot out of my hands. Can I throw fireballs?
Tom Lenk Live in Toronto! has it’s one-night stand this Saturday, September 24 at Theatre Passe Muraille, at 8 p.m. And for the record, we think Tom would make a pretty adorable Sun Boy (and yes, we know that’s DC, not Marvel, but his unitard is pretty special).
Photos by Toky Photography.