Dave Burd Believes He’s Comedic Voice of His Generation — But He Doesn’t Mean It Arrogantly
With all due modesty, Dave Burd, a.k.a. Lil Dicky, a.k.a. The Time Traveler’s Wife, a.k.a. Mr. Leftward Sloping Penis, has bravely declared himself to be Batman and Superman put together.
That kind of bravado is not uncommon for a rapper of Burd’s profile, but the curly-haired, neurotic, upper-middle-class white guy from suburban Philadelphia wants us to know that it’s not hubris that causes him to proclaim himself the magnum opus of millennial comedy — in fact, it’s humility. Somehow.
The comedy-rapper-turned-television-superstar celebrated the premiere of the third season of Dave by explaining to The Hollywood Reporter how he is merely a “passenger of this talent,” saying, “I feel like I’m the comedic voice of my generation,” graciously predicting, “You’ll read it and be like, ‘This guy’s out of his mind,’ and, really, I don’t mean it arrogantly.” That’s an amazing excuse which I hope will catch on in the greater rap community — I can’t wait for Kanye to call himself Jesus Christ incarnate “but, like, in a humble way” as he nails himself to a $80,000 Yeezy cross.
Almost exactly a decade ago, Lil Dicky began the entertainment journey that led him to the point where seemingly the entire hip hop community is clamoring to land a cameo on his smash-hit series — on April 23, 2013, Burd released his first comedy rap video with "Ex-Boyfriend," a song about learning that your significant other has a former lover who is “the closest thing I've seen to a Grecian god” filling his flow with quips like, I think that his dick has abs, six pack on a dick, now what the fuck is that?”
“Ex-Boyfriend” was the first song in a series of mega viral videos that would lead to Burd releasing his debut album in 2015, titled Professional Rapper, which boasted verses from stars such as Snoop Dogg, Rich Homie Quan, Fetty Wap, Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, T-Pain, and even a riff from Hannibal Buress. Dave producer and Larry David collaborator Jeff Schaffer said of Burd’s early-career success, “Back then, the internet was, like, 70 percent porn, 10 percent clickbait and 20 percent Lil Dicky videos.”
Even as Burd’s star was rising in the rap scene, his end-goal was always the same — land a TV show where he can merge his rap and comedy talent into something greater than the novelty act that his detractors considered him to be. Burd’s idol was always the Curb Your Enthusiasm creator himself, so when Burd’s mother answered his incessant questioning of “do you think I’m a creative genius?” with the remark, “You’re funny, but you’re no, like, Seinfeld,” he took it as a challenge.
Schaffer said that, when he first met with Burd about the possibility of creating a show together, Burd told him that he was going to be “the biggest entertainer in the history of entertainment.” Schaffer recalled, “I’m looking at this guy, and he looks like a piece of broccoli had a bar mitzvah, and I’m like, ‘This is hilarious, it’s like cartoon-level delusion.’” Despite Burd’s delirious confidence, Schaffer saw a David-esque talent underneath the mop of hair and over-inflated head — said Schaffer. “And then I start thinking, like, ‘What a great engine for a TV show, because what if he’s right?’”
Schaffer helped Burd shop his show to numerous networks, and the comedian/rapper’s arrogance was always at the forefront of the pitch meetings. Schaffer remembered the way Burd described his self-discovery as a dual-threat musician and comic, saying “He would literally say, ‘It’s like if Batman all of a sudden realized he was also Superman.’” Schaffer added, “And when he’d say it, they’d all look at me and I’d go, ‘Yeeeaaah.’”
To Burd’s credit, he’s backed up his bravado and braggadocious behavior by backing up his claims with tangible success — Dave, the TV show he’s spent the last decade working towards, is a semi-autobiographical and fully surreal depiction of his unique journey to stardom that has connected with a wide audience in the hip-hop community and beyond. It’s even drawn comparisons to Donald Glover’s Atlanta in its off-kilter depiction of what it’s like to break into the rap game, and entertainment icons such as Madonna, LeBron James, Chris Rock, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Stiller have all expressed their respect for Burd’s craft.
By Burd’s assessment, that impressive list of admirers is merely a collection of his juniors all taking note of his genius — as James begins another NBA playoff run, look out for Batman-meets-Superman to tweet that he should be leading the Lakers, but he doesn't mean it arrogantly.