Viceland’s original short What Would Diplo Do?, starring James Van Der Beek as Diplo and Dillon Francis as Diplo’s friend Jasper, is now streaming on Hulu. The show, which had also been streaming on Viceland for free prior to the Hulu addition, premiered last August as a hilarious tongue-in-cheek series offering a glimpse of “the life” of the superstar DJ.
In the time since the show’s aired, the Dawson’s Creek alum’s grade A impersonation has even seen great success on Twitter. James Van Der Beek’s @_diplo_Twitter handle has gone on to entertain an entire industry with witty criticism and clever comebacks.
Whether viewers are Viceland or dance music fans, the network’s comedy “What Would Diplo Do?” certainly made waves in the media for its over the top humor and parody of the dance music scene. James Van Der Beek was cast to portray Diplo, and did a great job at making it seem like the producer didn’t have a whole lot going on upstairs. Before the show’s release, Thomas Wesley Pentz, better known as Diplo, opened Van Der Beek’s portrayal of himself with open arms. After the show’s conclusion, Pentz, who is also an executive producer on the show, has expressed a different sentiment.
“It hurt to watch it the first time,” the musician admitted to Rolling Stone. “It made my stomach twist.”
Later on in the interview, Pentz reiterated he was open to the public ridicule.
“I think that James plays a really funny Diplo. He’s doing his best, but he (the character)’s just an idiot. I don’t mind being ridiculed.”
While Diplo was great about promoting the show and taking its humor in stride, even he admits that the portrayal of himself was a little more difficult to swallow than he publicly made it seem.
What was originally supposed to be a one-off advertisement coaxing people to buy tickets for Diplo‘s annual Mad Decent Block Party just last year is now finally geared up to hit the airways as a full fledged television miniseries this Thursday, August 3 via Viceland.
“We all thought that would be it,” Van Der Beek explained to Rolling Stone—speaking of the promo mockumentary skit shenanigans that started it all.
But Viceland had something bigger in mind. ‘What Would Diplo Do?,’ will be the network’s breakout show in scripted programming. The ad was merely a glimpse of what’s to come.
“We all went back and thought about it and came to the conclusion, ‘Holy fuck, this could be a show,’” Van Der Beek remembered, telling Rolling Stone. “What I saw was: EDM genius sucks at life. Parables about life through the eyes of a clown.
Of course with all of the fun poking, Diplo had to give the ok for the new show.
“This show isn’t a reflection of myself,” said Diplo.
“It’s more of a reflection of my Twitter persona, which was always a joke. In the past few years, I left it alone because I didn’t think people understood the joke and took all my sarcasm seriously, so it wasn’t worth defending myself,” Diplo continued “but for a while it was pretty golden and this is a sort of social commentary on the social media and the EDM age.”
“I view it as sacrificing myself to poke fun at DJ/EDM culture as a whole,” says Diplo.
Contributing ideas over the course of the show’s filming often required signing off on particularly unflattering scenes and Diplo spares himself no expense. Where’s the fun in life, anyways, if one can’t make fun of onesself?
The way Van Der Beek sees it, the show relies on this willingness to be the butt of the joke.
Being called things like “righteous dick” was “the only way this show could have happened…. If there was any preciousness about him, it would’ve been impossible. He really had no boundaries in terms of making himself look bad. I actually had to bring him around to the idea that we don’t make him completely ridiculous,” said Van Der Beek. “We imbue him with some attributes that make him likable enough to want to hang out with him for more than just one episode.”
While understanding his influence in the industry Diplo suggests the show’s been created with a wider audience in mind,
“The Viceland audience is a wide net,” Diplo told Rolling Stone. “There’s people who go for the political, thought-provoking, challenging stuff. But then there’s people who just want to watch Action Bronson [host of Fuck, That’s Delicious] and have a good time… We wrote it for people that might not know anything about the music.”
This Thursday, August 3, fans will get to see just what the irony will bring forth and exactly what satirical-Diplo would do. Oh, and Dillion Francis too (who makes a cameo). Until then, everyone will just have to wait and see.
Diplo’s knack for expanding his brand across different forms of media is as strong as his proclivity for exploring diverse genres. From TV commercials to his immensely active social media presence, the dance music magnate leaves no cultural stone unturned. Now, it seems that Diplo has set his sights on a new frontier – syndicated television.
Viceland has ordered six pilot episodes of What Would Diplo Do?, a scripted, comedic take on the prolific producer’s outlandish lifestyle starring James Van Der Beek in the titular role. The series was inspired by last year’s Mad Decent promo film A Day in the Life. When the network surprised the team with a pitch for the series, all parties were quick to jump on board.
In addition to assuming the starring role, Van Der Beek will serve as a showrunner and executive producer alongside Diplo, Kevin Ksatsu, and director Brandon Dermer. Though the show will be fully scripted, there will be room for improv within the creative team.
Both Van Der Beek and Diplo are known for their self-deprecating meta-humor and the show will likely feature much of the same.
“I’ve enjoyed deconstructing my own image quite a bit over the years, but to have the chance to do it with a global megastar like Diplo who’s letting us to do something fun and ridiculous that few people have the balls to allow is crazy,” says Van Der Beek. “The show doesn’t take itself too serious, but it’s not cynical.”
What Would Diplo Do? will also feature input and oversight from Viceland co-president, Oscar winning filmmaker, and Kanye video director Spike Jonze. Jonze said the following regarding the program’s origins:
“When James was in the office a few weeks ago, he told me the story lines he had sketched out, they were, of course, funny; one even got me emotional which made it that much more funny. This idea has gotten inside James which makes me really excited to see what he makes and happy to have it on our channel.”
Network execs have described the show as “hilarious” and “weird,” adding that Van Der Beek’s interpretation of Diplo is like “a modern cipher into which we can read the whole of human existence…or not.”