Getting compared to Larry David is a great thing if you’re working in comedy, and perhaps not as great a thing if it’s in reference to your social skills. But for Lil Dicky, that kind of comparison is exactly what he’s been going for all along.
The rapper and brain behind the surprise hit Dave is known for a lot of things, all of them sort of referencing parts of his own life and the musical persona that first made him famous. His success with Dave only tightens the connections between his persona, his real life and the show’s plot points loosely including all of the above. And if that sounds a bit like David’s work on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, well, you’re not alone in thinking that.
In a GQ profile of Dicky, the Larry David connections are front and center in a very flattering way. Early in the piece his mother quite literally says “You’re no Jerry Seinfeld. But you’re funny” when describing Dicky (real name Dave Burd) and his big ambitions. Apparently he used to straight-up ask his parents if he was a comedic genius, though he didn’t like the answer he got:
His friend Benny, the producer and hitmaking songwriter Benny Blanco, remembers this too. “Oh my God,” he says. “He’d be like, ‘Mom, Dad, am I a genius?’ And they’d be like, ‘Eh.’”
With two seasons of Dave now under his belt, though, the comparison isn’t nearly as absurd. And one longtime David collaborator is willing to broach the subject. The piece discusses Burd’s creative process and OCD tendencies at length, exploring how he first learned he could make people laugh and the stress that introduced into his life. The juxtaposition between attempted genius and the mental strain of actually realizing that makes him a difficult person to work with at times:
At work, the neurosis has a name: The No Stone Unturned Method. This means he must try out every single possible version of something, whether it’s a lyric or a joke, before he’s satisfied. “He’s the worst person I’ve ever been in the studio with,” Benny Blanco tells me. “But also the best person.”
The flipside of his neurosis is stratospheric confidence. The co-creator of Dave, Jeff Schaffer, remembers the first time he met Burd: “He’s talking to me, a stranger, about how he’s going to be so huge. He’s telling me he’s going to be the biggest entertainer in the history of entertaining. And I’m like, Oh, he’s delusional. This is great. I love this.” Schaffer, who’s also worked on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, adds that he sees “a lot of Larry” (that would be David) in Burd.
That’s high praise for a guy many know from funny rap songs, though the perception of Burd is certainly changing with Dave. The show is funny, and very successful, and as we see more of Burd’s work, it makes all of his talk about a wildly successful career not just more reasonable, but an actual reality.