''Permanent damage'' is how Thomas Lennon describes five years of wearing the short shorts that define Reno 911!'s Lieut. Jim Dangle. Luckily, the dim-witted Comedy Central copumentary and its movie spin-off, Reno 911!: Miami, aren't the only notches on his weapons belt. The 36-year-old is an in-demand writer of hits (the $233-mil-and-growing Night at the Museum) and misses (Herbie: Fully Loaded), a sketch-comedy vet (The State, Viva Variety), and a bona fide star to real-life police officers.
Lennon has been improvising with Reno costar Kerri Kenney-Silver for almost 20 years ''We went to theater camp together, and oh, boy, nobody takes acting more seriously than a 16-year-old kid. We were so heavy and deep.''
Lieutenant Dangle wears his Daisy Dukes with pride! Lennon, on the other hand... ''I don't actually own a pair of shorts. I wear them [in character]because they put me in a constant state of discomfort. I was doing a scene opposite The Rock and thinking, 'I've never looked more like a marionette.'''
Don't get him wrong, though: He's big on Balls ''I am! And if you see [September's] Balls of Fury, you'll learn that I'm also big on inappropriate outfits for men. I play an evil German Ping-Pong player and wear a series of things that are either made out of leather and very tight or straight-up leotards that look a lot like ladies' swimsuits.''
So Dangle: Is he or isn't he? ''There's always this question, 'When's Dangle coming out?' and I'm like, 'Have you seen the show?' On the first episode, he makes out with another man for about two minutes. I guess people think he's closeted because Trudy [Kenney-Silver] is in love with him, but that has more to do with the fact that she's severely brain-damaged.''