Of all the characters on FXX’s breakout hip-hop comedy Dave, the heart and soul of the show is arguably the fast-talking, indefatigable GaTa. GaTa is show creator Dave Burd’s — aka Lil Dicky — hype man both on the show and in real life after a chance meeting at the studio leads to an off-kilter kinship that often casts GaTa as Dave’s externalized, irrational confidence. While Dave believes he’s destined for rap greatness, GaTa functions as both his mirror and his mouthpiece, broadcasting the type of stereotypical hip-hop boastfulness that seems silly coming from the awkward, neurotic Dave. And when Dave himself falters, it’s GaTa who blasts him back to reality or finds a way to “gander” and “wiggle” the group into position to win.
GaTa is a naturally charismatic motormouth both on the show and in real life, but in the show’s fifth episode, we find out that his gift of gab comes with a price: There are times he’s liable to “ramp up,” going into full-blown manic episodes that need to be regulated with medication. He tearfully reveals this information to Dave’s merry band of misfits, finally feeling that he’s found a home, with a team of forgiving weirdos who understand and accept him. The moment was a breakthrough, both for the show’s GaTa, the real-life GaTa, and for the show’s audience, who realized that Dave wasn’t just funny; it could get tender, with genuine human moments that showed the heart behind the laughs.
Uproxx found out just how charming GaTa really is by phone, as we discussed the importance of Episode 5’s revelation, the acceptance the show has found from people who never expected to be Lil Dicky fans, and the lessons GaTa’s learned behind-the-scenes of the rap game after making the shift from artist to hype man and back again.
The natural starting point feels like Episode 5: “Hype Man.” It was an important episode to me personally because I have bipolar people in my family. What was the process of shooting that episode and what has the reaction been?
First and foremost, man, I want to say I’m glad that my story touched you and connected with you. I really appreciate that. As far as the process goes, I had to sit down with Dicky because it’s his TV show, it’s based around him. And he came to me with the idea like, “Yo, I want to share your story.” At first, I was against it because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to put it out there because there’s such a heavy stigma around bipolar and mental disorders, especially in the Black community. It’s nothing that we really speak on, on a day-to-day basis. But just having the support system that I had, my manager, Mike Hertz, and Dicky, my mom, and my sister, they were behind me and they were very supportive. And they also let me know that I would be helping people. So that’s what ended up making share my story and the process.
What’s the reaction to the show itself been like? Because a lot of people, I think took a minute to sidle into it and figure out what was going on. And then once they saw it, almost universally the thing that I see people saying is, “Oh, GaTa, GaTa, GaTa, GaTa.” Like, “GaTa makes this show.” So what have been some of the positive reactions that you had to the show and do they surprise you in any kind of way?
Yes. Most definitely. The reaction has been crazy. It’s been phenomenal. And the first like couple of days out there so far — it was overwhelming. I didn’t know that I was going to touch that many people. I’m still getting messages, and DM’s, and emails to this day like, “Oh man, episode five changed my life. I’m bipolar, my mom bipolar.” Or they got whatever mental challenges they face. It touched a lot of people. As far as the reaction: My fan base is growing, a lot of media outlets reached out to me, and a lot of people been writing a lot of positive things. But the most positive thing that I got out of this besides the fame and besides the success and the kudos and all that, is just touching people.
What was the backpack salmon thing about?
They just tied it into real life. I’m always known for trying to be over-the-top and exotic. And I always try to just be myself and try different things. That’s why I pulled the salmon out my backpack because I’m a heavy seafood lover.
How do you not laugh at Dicky? Because he’s funny. He’ll say something and I’ll be like, “Man, now how does he get away with doing this stuff with a straight face?”
Oh, yeah. He was born to do this man. He’s just a natural as far as comedy, he’s always cracking jokes out. I’ll be around him a lot. So I know how to hold my composure. Because you got to think about it, I just been in places where he doing interviews live on the radio station and he just say the funniest thing ever and I can’t even laugh because it’s recorded live on air. So it’s like, I know how to hold my composure. But he a real funny dude.
There’s going to be a scene I’m excited for from the promos where he’s going to show how good he is at basketball. He’s a great basketball player. I see him all the time at the celebrity basketball games in LA. I’ve never seen you play. So I just want to know whose game is nicer, yours or Dicky’s?
I’m going to be honest, all the way 1000. He’s better than me, period, in basketball. It’s not even about being athletic, me being athletic or whatever, me being tall. He just really got game. He just knows the fundamentals of basketball. He’s a great shooter, he got speed, he can go any side. He a good player.
He’s a shooter.
He’s a shooter. Absolutely.
So in doing all of this, I think it’s exposed some people to GaTa from back in the day, back when you were doing joints with Tyga like “Exquisite” or “Blow Up Big.” I would really love to know how did you define “making it” back then, how do you define it now, and do you feel like you’ve made it by either of those criteria?
“Making it” back then was knowing how to market yourself and know how to make money off yourself. So back then, I figured out how to do that. That’s how I was able to collaborate with Tyga, whoever I worked with back in the day. I knew I would position myself and keep myself hot. As far as making music and making money, I’ve considered I made it back then. But once you make it and you get to a certain level, you want to keep striving for more. So once I tasted a certain level, I wanted to just keep going up. And now I consider myself making it because I’ve done something that I’d never thought I would be able to do, which is acting and being on a television show and leading like a main cast in a supporting role.
So, I consider myself making it because I took a step outside the box. I was known for music, I was known for traveling the world, rocking stages, being a hype man. Now I’m a supporting actor in a show. So I consider myself making it on both levels, back then and now. Because I took a break too for a while. After the music died down, I had to find myself, I had to reinvent myself. I had to keep recording music, I had to go through stuff: A lot of challenges, a lot of family issues. And then I met up with Dicky and I reinvented myself, my train of thought. I’ve developed more patience as an artist, as a businessman. And if you asked me today, am I making it now, I’m going to say yes. I made it back then and I made it now. I just made it bigger on another level like I wanted to do.
Absolutely. You know that’s crazy, is we actually just published an article on UPROXX about how Dave and Atlanta are pretty much the only two shows I’ve seen ever in my entire life that give a semi-accurate representation of what trying to get in the music business is actually like. I really wanted to just see how accurate was the scene where you and Dicky meet at the studio?
It was pretty similar but not to the T, because it is television. But I definitely did meet up with Lil Dicky at a studio. I definitely did listen to his music. We got to vibe out. But it wasn’t exactly how I met him. But I think they did a great job on giving you the perception of how it is being in the music industry, when it comes to collaborating with other artists, and reaching out to other artists, and going through somebody else’s homeboy’s auntie’s mama’s cousin who you think number you got. They did a great job because that type of stuff go down in the music industry. Like a text message can change your life, or you bumping elbows at a club just because your homie gave somebody $40 just to gander to get in. That’s how the industry is. They did a great job just by showing you that. And I appreciate Dicky even showing people this much game. It’s real.
Dave airs Wednesdays at 10pm on FXX. Watch it here.