Before this year, Dave Burd was known as Lil’ Dicky, a white rapper who made hilarious music videos.
One of them, “Save Dat Money,” where he borrowed rich people’s houses and cars and scored guest appearances from high-profile rappers, such as Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan, went viral with over a 120 million page views.
This spring, the 32-year-old released his hit new comedy series, “Dave,” on FXX. The half-hour show won nods from comedians like Amy Schumer and rave reviews from publications like Newsday, which called it a “shrewd, often funny, and scorchingly vulgar new comedy.”
But what not everybody knows is that Dave Burd is a University of Richmond grad.
“I loved Richmond; it was such a pleasant place to be,” he wrote from Los Angeles via email. “I love Carytown, the restaurants, the beautiful campus.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Burd studied business and marketing at UR and graduated summa cum laude in 2010. Although he didn’t do any stand-up or rap shows while in Richmond, he said he loved going to Carytown Burger & Fries and Weezie’s Kitchen with his friends.
After graduating, he moved to San Francisco, where he had a job in advertising and started his fledgling career as a comedian and a rapper. He used his bar mitzvah money to fund his first music video, “Ex Boyfriend,” which got a million views on YouTube in 24 hours.
“I broke into music by self-producing and financing my earliest music videos, putting everything out for free and by having a really good release strategy. I built up the amount of content I had over a two-year period, and only when I was fully stocked, did I begin releasing stuff, once a week, for five months straight, on the same day and time every week,” he said. “People knew when to expect something new, and it built up the amount of eyes I had whenever I put something out.”
When his bar mitzvah money ran out, he launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $113,000 to allow him to create more music, fund more music videos and go on tour. He moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to further his career.
“I [had] a whole bunch of funny and entertaining videos with a lot of views, and that got me every meeting I ever wanted in the comedy/film/TV space. Upon taking those meetings and sharing my goals, it became clear what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to align with,” Burd said.
The show “Dave” is loosely based on Burd himself. It’s about a slightly neurotic man in his late 20s who is convinced that he’s destined to be one of the all-time best rappers. The show follows his journey to achieve that goal, with comedy ensuing from I-can’t-believe-he-said-that moments with his girlfriend, doctor visits and forays into hip-hop.
At times, the show can be raw and vulgar, but it’s also endearingly honest, laugh-out loud funny and vulnerable.
As for how close the character of Dave is to himself, Burd said it’s “pretty close but definitely hyperbolized at times for the sake of comedy. So, even though I’m a blunt and honest person, my character may be blunt and honest and say whatever he’s saying in as outlandishly funny a way as possible. Not every story we told in this show was true, either. Some stuff was real; some was based off of real events; some was totally made up out of thin air.”
Along the way to landing the TV show, Burd made some connections with big names in the industry.
His music manager is Scooter Braun, whose famous clients include Justin Bieber. Braun serves as an executive producer on the show, as does comedian Kevin Hart, who famously hopped on stage at one of Burd’s performances.
“I think he’s a star. The comedic talent and timing he has is unreal,” Hart said during a press tour earlier this year. “You want to see people raise the level of creative, and that’s what we’re seeing here.”
Braun dipped into his contact list to line up cameo appearances on “Dave” by Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian West, Tierra Whack and YG.
“We’re putting these people in positions they’re not used to being in. It’s fish out of water,” Braun said. “Dave is the magnet for all these people. They want to come and be part of what Dave is doing.”
“It’s been a dream come true,” Burd said on writing and releasing “Dave.” “This really was everything I wanted as a kid. And to see it all happen in real life, and it’s about my story — what more can you ask for? I get the final say on everything. It’s something I’ll never take for granted.”
Now, Burd is planning to head back to the writer’s room to work on season two of “Dave,” which will air in 2021.
“I really didn’t know what to expect [with a writers room], because with music, I don’t really collaborate too much on the songwriting. But my room couldn’t be better or more helpful and inspiring,” he said. “I’m very excited to see where we take it next. Oftentimes it takes TV shows a little while to find its footing, so for our first season to be as special as it was, I really believe that the sky is the limit for this show.”