He may be a law firm secretary by day, but there’s far more to the New York-based polymath who is Tony Wolf than his day job. What his law firm colleagues may not know is Wolf has a rapidly expanding page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
Wolf is a bit of a closet internet sensation. He’s a comedic short film and voiceover actor, on the perpetually evolving brink of internet fame. While Wolf pushes paper by day, by night he dons eclectic costumes, explores the full potential of his voice’s pitch and tone and even partakes in the occasional, radical body modification.
Recently, he buzzed his head and dyed the stubble grey, even giving himself a fake bald spot and receding hairline, for a role as the late Steve Jobs, never knowing if the video would go anywhere. Known in part in his niche community for his voluminous locks, Wolf foreshadowed this move in a song he improvised and recorded in 2007 called “The Faux Hawk Song.” The 41-year-old, occasionally curmudgeonly, Greenpoint resident lets it be known he has ambivalent feelings toward hipsters, to whom he attributes the hairstyle’s popularity.
In fact, the first thing that landed Long Island-born Wolf on IMDB was his role as “Naked Abe Lincoln” for a comedic short called “Hipster Job” set in Williamsburg. This followed 12 years of stage acting after leaving college with a degree in English literature.
Now, Wolf spends nights and weekends in the “studio,” wherever that happens to be, never more than a text message away from his “producer,” Mike Turney, known fondly as “Producer Mike.” With over 40 videos under their belts, they collectively refer to themselves as “The Action Room.” Wolf has worked with other producers as well, and landed parts ranging from a commercial for the Sci-Fi channel to voiceover work hawking DVDs on VH1.
Wolf is a man wholeheartedly devoted to his art and potential for upward mobility. When it comes to self-promotion, however, he vacillates between waxing on grandiose dreams of Hollywood, Broadway and hosting the Oscars, and humbly conceding he’s “not even internet famous” yet. In the world of YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter and similar platforms, however, “fame” as we’ve known it is being redefined — those 15 minutes expedited and more widely distributed, like a kind of celebrity socialism.
In the fast-paced world of comedic internet videos, Wolf says you can never be too quick with a brilliant notion. If you don’t immediately project your brainchild into cyberspace, upload it to sites like “College Humor” or “Funny or Die,” where Wolf’s videos have performed quite well and even become “featured selections,” your joke can get snatched up by the likes of comedic actor Jerry O’Connell. This happened to Wolf.
Wolf notes: O’Connell’s Tom Cruise Scientology spoof may have gotten more of the limelight than his, but comedian Patton Oswalt personally sent Wolf’s producer two separate emails, saying Wolf’s version was “way funnier.”
It’s not just about speed, though speed is imperative — Wolf says the most successful videos never go on too long — it’s also about nailing the jokes. Describing a particular shoot, Wolf says: “We did about 10 takes and you would think the last would be the best, but it was in fact the penultimate take we used.”
Like the Tom Cruise video released several years ago, Wolf’s roles are almost always relevant to popular culture and current affairs. Most recently he acted in a short parodying Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s famously colorless addresses to New Yorkers during Hurricane Sandy’s rampage. In Wolf’s artistic rendition, Bloomberg’s ASL interpreter — who gained an internet following of her own for being animated and “hot” — gets frisky with the Mayor.
The chameleonic Wolf has also taken on Donald Trump, Daniel Day-Lewis and even Hitler. Wolf derives some of the greatest joy from reactions by strangers and friends alike to his imitations and likenesses, but this internet “celebrity” is not too proud to glitter a bit when his parents — including a father known around his hometown for his striking good looks — fawn over his parodic performances as well.
Wolf often even gets double-takes on the street from people who think he’s Matt Lauer, Will Arnett or, perhaps, a mysteriously young Bob Saget.
“My agent tried to get me seen for Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” says Wolf. “Okay, manager who functions as an agent.” For an internet actor like Wolf, the promotion and production process are often fairly makeshift.
Wolf does a lot of his own promotion via, naturally, the internet. He’s snatched up all the domains he can, but unfortunately, “TonyWolf.com is taken already by a Christian, fundamental-seeming inspirational speaker, singer and comedy guy,” explains Wolf.
He adds: “He’s also an illustrator. He’s like 60 and bald and midwestern. It’s very weird that he and I have a lot of the same talents.”
“Maybe when I become super-famous I can buy TonyWolf.com away from Other Christian Tony Wolf,” he says, with an edge of hope.
Check out more Tony Wolf at tonywolfactor.com.
Tags: Acting, Actor, Alissa Fleck, College Humor, Donald Trump, Funny or Die, Internet, Internet Sensations, Lydia Callis, Mayor Bloomberg, Steve Jobs, The Action Room, Tony Wolf, twitter, Vimeo, Youtube
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