(Spoiler Warning: Season 3 and 4 spoilers ahead.)
When you first watch What We Do In the Shadows, the vampire mockumentary FX series, the lavish and eccentric costumes and hairstyles of the cast quickly catch your eye, putting the focus on the several of the housemates. While in the background, in more unassuming attire (let’s call it accountant chic) lies the series’ secret weapon; the energy vampire, Colin Robinson – played to perfection by Mark Proksch. You may have seen his work on The Office or Better Call Saul or even his hilarious Kenny Strasser the Yoyo guy new program pranking bits.
After his shocking death and rebirth in season 3 that left us with a baby Colin Robinson – a baby’s body with the adult face of Proksch, viewers knew they were in for a treat. That is exactly what we got this season on What We Do In The Shadows as witnessed Proksch going through all the stages of childhood right to adulthood in a finale that marked the return of the character in all his glory – including his bald head and trademark glasses.
The evolution of the character was not something Proksch took lightly. He put in his research time, watching hours of videos to learn how to portray his character through several stages of childhood. During my interview it became evident Proksch is a comedy stickler. His appreciation and respect for the art form has instilled him with a set of comedic standards and it shows in his performance.
His approach is a dry delivery, to let the humor in the writing to shine through rather than overplay it. “I didn’t want that to come off as like, ‘Oh, this is an adult acting like a child,'” explained Proksch. “I did want it to feel like this child in a man’s body is crying. And so I tried to play that stuff as straight as possible, too. But it was interesting – it was it was a fun challenge to get to try to play them all and have them ring true at the same time.”
One thing did concern Proksch when it it came to the challenge, “I was concerned, now I have to play a baby on a show that’s pretty beloved by fans. And our fans are very vocal. And, am I going to screw this up now? Am I going to ruin the show with my performance,” revealed Proksch. “And to that end, my only request really was don’t make Colin cute. I don’t want Colin to be like, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen on Full House saying ‘wad-i-cal dude.’ That type of stuff, that I think, would have ruined the show. And so, to that end, it’s my 40-something, doughy mug on a kid, it’s not going to be cute no matter what.”
As seen in his K-Strass comedy bits, Proksch has a knack for improv. This surely comes in part due to his consumption of comedy heavyweights such as Bob Newhart, Tim Conway and Don Knotts whom he cites as some of his comedic influences. Luckily for the WWDITS fans the directors have provided Proksch with plenty of room to explore his character. “Early on Jemaine Clement, who directed two of the early Colin-centric episodes, really allowed me to, in fact, encouraged me to throw away the script, which I kept pushing back on being like, “Well, this is funnier than what I’m coming up with,” said Proksch. “And, I think in doing so, he allowed me the confidence that I can also take part in who this character is and what this character is so often.”
I could have spoken with Mark for hours. His approach to comedy is one I truly respect and fascinating. Sadly, time was limited – I used it all, plus some. The results are a wonderful conversation that takes us into the mind of a very funny man on a very funny series. Watch the full conversation where we discuss his feeding face, developing the character, what humbles him, what put him on the path to a career in entertainment, working on Better Call Saul and much more.
All four seasons of What We Do In the Shadows are on FX and streaming on Hulu.