Ranking William Tokarsky appearances by how much they remind me of 'Too Many Cooks'
You may not know the name but you definitely know the face. At 4am on Adult Swim's 'Infomercials' block on October 28 2014, viewers who were still awake were treated to what appeared to be a stab at old-fashioned cliche sitcom title sequences. Then of course, it turned into something much, much more.
Too Many Cooks quickly became a viral sensation and a benchmark for postmodern, surrealist 'internet-fueled' comedy and it's not hard to see why. It's genuinely one of the best pieces of art from the last decade, and reached depths of depravity thanks to the iconic appearance(s) of the (unnamed) killer played by William Tokarsky.
Now, unfortunately due to the popularity of Too Many Cooks, Tokarsky has seemingly been given a lot of work as a maniacal madman (usually with a machete) but in actuality his projects range from big blockbusters to independent thrillers. After coming to acting late in life, Tokarsky's natural demeanor is the complete antithesis of his Cooks counterpart. He's softly-spoken and playful and always comes across as a ridiculously nice guy...
It's just a shame that most of the time I can't get Too Many Cooks out of my head. And when he pops up on the big screen I can't help but be pulled back to that same feeling of fear. It's not your fault William, it's just the power of your image.
With this in mind I'm going to be ranking 10 of Mr. Tokarsky's more high-profile appearances based on how much they pull me back into Adult Swim's delirious fever dream. Now, this can be due to a number of things: framing, the character he plays, the expression he casts...anything! All I know is, it's a slippery slope and when I notice it I can't stand to look away. So let's get started!
10) Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell
Before he donned the serial killer persona for Adult Swim, William Tokarsky played a disgruntled and lovelorn demon named William in this demented workplace comedy from the same creator. Whilst it would seem obvious that an assumed-evil demon would remind me of William's later role, I find it hard to think of anything sinister at all from the entire gang of bored, lazy and disgruntled minions of Satan. Even when William's teeth are falling out, his deadpan delivery and character arc across his 15 episodes remind me that sometimes, serial killers can be people too...even if by 'people' I mean 'demons'.
9) The Walking Dead
Look at this image, you wouldn't even be able to tell this was the man himself! Yet that was all part of the plan. Across the third season of AMC hit The Walking Dead, Tokarsky played an unnamed Woodbury guard in about a dozen episodes! That's a lot of work for an extra. His secret? Keeping his face hidden as much as possible. On a show like The Walking Dead, if you're seen and recognised you're more likely to succumb to a viscous zombie attack, so by keeping a low profile he managed to keep the role going until the finale. Unfortunately the scene where his guard is killed by Michonne was cut for time, but it proves he was playing another villainous role so at least his intentions were closer to that in Too Many Cooks...
8) The Good Lord Bird
This small role in 'A Wicked Plot' the second episode of Showtime's The Good Lord Bird, may be just a single line, but the attention is enough for Tokarsky to shine. As he watches on young Onion cleaning floors, disguised as a woman inside a bar beneath a brothel he playfully sneers and lets his eyes wander not-so-silently. Every inch of this character is sleazy, and yet despite sharing an equally repugnant feeling it still feels detached from the sitcom-intro killer. Merely by voicing this sleaze, it sets him apart and dismantles any fear I could have had of this character. Still wouldn't want to run into him on the street, though...
7) The Good Die Young
Much like his role in The Good Lord Bird, this dialogue-heavy stint allows Tokarsky to stretch his scumbag muscles even further. Even with the confederate flag and musky-looking location, Buck's arrogance and insidious nature is obvious to see and hear. I don't even have to think about his motivation or mindset as its laid out on the table, and thus it retracts from what makes the killer in Too Many Cooks so timeless - the mystery.
6) Doom Patrol
In season 1's 'Hair Patrol', Tokarsky plays a silent and nonchalant supermarket shopper who's disturbed by the antics of a ludicrous 'Beard Hunter'. It's innocent an he's there to provide the sober straight-face to the episode's most ludicrous character and yet, there's something about Tokarsky's character that seems familiar. What could he be purchasing? Is it food for the people he has locked up? People from an old sitcom opening sequence? ...I might be getting carried away here.
5) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
The highest-grossing project of his career thus far, Tokarsky even nabbed a minor role as a bread vendor in an early-level market with scene partners such as Jack Black and Dwayne 'The 'Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson' Rock Johnson' Johnson. Another seemingly innocent character...until it turns out his pound cake triggers Kevin Hart's allergies and KILLS HIM. Now, it's important to note that the vendor is merely an NPC just programmed to do such an evil dead, but the fact that Jumanji chose that face makes me think they knew what they were doing...
In this low budget 2017 comedy drama, Tokarsky plays Coach Ramrod, whose disgruntled exterior counterbalances his personality towards his students. Whilst Tokarsky's facial hair and demeanor in this role are fairly similar to his Too Many Cooks persona, it's the smaller details that make me think there's a connection between the two. In the scene featured above, there's a small hint that the students aren't happy and may even feel threatened by Ramrod, as someone has clearly written 'I want to die' in green marker. Is that just a crew joke? Or is it a call for help from the students that the Too Many Cooks killer has moved on to after breaking free from the broth? It's something to think about.
It's a shame that many of Tokarsky's roles go uncredited, because every now and then he clocks in some decent screen time, as is the case in John Stewart's 2020 political satire Irresistible. He plays one of Steve Carell's dedicated campaign workers, always vigilant and part of the group. He's fairly silent too, so everything seems innocuous. Unless...he's just trying to keep a low profile. Maybe after doing something horrifying. Look, he's even shaved off his facial hair to avoid being caught from his profile alone. And that hat! Nobody could recognise someone in a hat! Oh this is all getting very suspicious...
2) Dolly Parton's Heartstrings
This 2019 Netflix anthology series tells some of the dramatized stories behind some of the singer's greatest songs, and the final episode 'These Old Bones' features Tokarsky in yet another uncredited background role during a court case. He's stated in numerous interviews playfully that 'the camera loves him' and that's why he's so noticeable even as a background artist - and it's true. No matter how the scene is blocked or the shot is frame, Tokarsky draws your eye close to him. He's impossible to escape. It's as if...you can't escape him. And look, he's in a house of law with you now. He's showing off his power. How he can get away with anything. He can trick this jury and the judge, even Steve from corporate too, into thinking he's safe enough to be around, like he hasn't murdered thousands of wannabe-sitcom stars and yet...nobody bats an eye.
1) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
This is it. This is the one. I can feel it. And would you believe, this was released before Too Many Cooks. In 2013 Tokarsky makes an extended, uncredited appearance as a taxi driver in the Adam McKay comedy sequel and honestly? He's the only thing I remember from the whole movie. It's like he's taken on the advice from De Niro and Scorsese, his taxi driver is building up the anger and rage to commit a crime most fowl in the near future. And look at that framing again. He's off the side but in the foreground, you can't escape him. In fact, when you think about it...Tokarsky's got seven projects currently in various stages of production. He's everywhere at once. There's almost...too many.
No. No. No that can't be right. I can't just keep dwindling down this man's hard work to a singular role, that's cruel. He's filled our hearts with so much, so much...looooooooooooooooove.
STOP IT. I'm not trying to pigeonhole him, that would spoil the brot-AHHHH. Quick. Run! Run while you still can! Remember to wear a face mask and keep as isolated as possible but RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
...I'm just playing Mr. Tokarsky, keep up the great work.
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