Meet the Man Behind @DadBoner

Twitter has also held a greal deal of fascination for me. As someone with a lowly amount of followers, it has always geeked me out knowing that you can @ or talk to someone that you would never have the opportunity to speak to in real life.

For some reason or another I have always held a great amount of respect for Michigan. I started following Karl Welzein née @DadBoner just to get my lowest-common denominator kicks. With tweets like “Starbucks acts like they’re so fancy. You sell hot black water and muffins. Calm down.” and “Never understood why people count how many drinks they have. A real man drinks by body feel. More natural. Boozin’ ain’t math, you guys” I knew I had to met this man some day. By the time our series My Life Online rolled around I knew the man behind this satirical masterpiece would be perfect for the show. I looked online and saw that Ology and Deadspin had discovered that a comedian named Mike Burns was DadBoner, but Mike had neither confirmed nor denied if that was the case. I was intrigued. I saw that Mike was repped by Creative Artists Agency and did a cold call to the offices general LA number. In what only can be defined as sheer luck, I was put on a conference call with Mike Burns and his agent who then told me he would give me the DadBoner exclusive (whatever that means.)

When I met Mike outside his apartment in Echo Park he seemed tired and a bit rough around the edges. He eyed me warily as only a veteran of the comedy and entertainment world can. He smoked a cigarette and asked me what we should do. It seemed fitting that Mike was the man behind this gluttonous, out there twitter feed. Karl could say all the things that Mike wanted to but couldn’t say in his own voice (for fear of retribution). It later occurred to me that every one of us might have a Karl inside; Mike is just more wanton to let him out.

I traveled out to LA for Click. Print. Gun and Jerome LOL and, as it turned out, to have some drinks and get to know Mike and his crew. We watched WWE, drank some domestos (that means beer), and talked about the internet as it relates to comedy. I like to think of it as a tragicomedy.  

—Erin Lee Carr

Read Karl's posts on Vice.com here.

On Guy Fieri, The New York Times, and the Heroism of Karl Welzein

I’ve been a bit alarmed at all the attention this no-star NYT review of Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant has been getting. I mean, writing cynical, witty, bitchy reviews where you just mop the floor with something is one of the skills of a good critic in any field. It’s not the only one, mind you, but this sort of thing is hardly a rare occurrence. What bothers me is when I see people posting links to this review on Facebook and Twitter and then laughing their smug laughs and high-fiving the author, Pete Wells, as if he’s done something brave or admirable (he hasn’t; he’s just done his job), and I think it’s because the target of the review–Guy Fieri and his gloopy take on American diner fare–is some of the lowest hanging fruit you could possibly find. Did anyone really expect the New York Times food critic to do anything other than bash this place? Do people really expect any sort of ‘serious’ 'foodie’ food to come out of a giant, tourist trap restaurant in Times Square? Of course not! The people cackling over this review aren’t the people Guy Fieri designed the place for (duh!). It has nothing to do with them, so why do they take so much pleasure in seeing it skewered? Because people love to use haughtiness, snobbery, and snarkiness to make it look like they have taste. Congratulations, you’ve made it clear to everyone that you don’t like Guy Fieri: you’re so freakin’ cool.

For me (and maybe a lot of other internet-conscious people?), much of my interaction with the idea of Guy Fieri comes from following the twitter account of “Karl Welzein” a.k.a. @DadBoner. It read it kinda like performance art: it’s too outlandish to be believable and too carefully organized to not be premeditated–I don’t believe Karl’s a real person, in other words–but it’s so compelling in the way it captures the thoughts and details of its protagonist and the characters around him that it feels like watching a Parks and Rec-style sitcom. Welzein is a huge Fieri fan, loves re-combinations of junk food, pounding cheap beer, “top-shelf margs” from Chili’s and Applebee’s, etc. He’s that uncle or dad’s coworker we all have, taken to an extreme: the amalgam of his hero, Fieri, Tim Allen’s character from Home Improvement, and Sammy Hagar in Cabo Wabo mode. Only he’s a slovenly divorcee and deadbeat dad with zero skill, motivation, usefulness, or tact. He sees himself as a patriotic bad-boy party animal, but follow his adventures long enough and you’ll glimpse not only the humanity beneath his sweaty, boorish surface, but the tragic downward spiral that is his life. Nothing is both sadder and funnier than a loser who thinks he isn’t one, right?

I’m sure a lot of people read @DadBoner with the same sense of snooty satisfaction that they read the Wells review, but dammit, I can’t help rooting for the guy! He can be an over-macho jerk, sure, but he’s never less than sincere and honest. He’s an endearing dreamer at heart. I don’t want to behave like him or eat his fantasy concoction of pizza covered in Cheetos and “D'reets” (Doritos) or anything. I don’t want to go to Guy Fieri’s restaurant either, but through some strange transference I find myself rooting for him too. Give his food the bad review it probably deserves–that’s the business and it’s fine–but don’t take someone else’s review and use it to pat yourself and all your enlightened friends on the back for being so much better than all of that.