I haven’t watched Rob Dyrdek on TV in years. My time for tele-viewing consists solely of NFL football, Dexter, and Criminal Minds DVR’d. (If I could have Shamar Moore and Lt. Deborah Morgan on my Fantasy squad, life would be complete.) So, I didn’t recognize his Rob-ness when I approached the only person on a Sunset Blvd. studio patio last week, to buy a cigarette.
That’s right, I said ‘buy.’ I always offer a dollar; a fair price for a smoke. The days of ‘bumming’ are over. That’s sooo 2008. So Democrat. In 2011, Lung Cancer is a luxury.
“I’ll give you one,” the guy said. Pulling a pack of American Spirits out of somewhere.
“You sure, bro? Smokes are expensive these days,” I replied.
“Not for me they’re not,” his voice flashes.
At that point I think he’s Persian, because that sounds like a Persian response.
As well, because the hand that hands me a cigarette has a really nice watch on its wrist. I mean really nice. His wrist could be on Cribs. It’s a Blood Watch. Men died mining for it. It was flashy. If you put your ear up to it, you could hear Lara Croft raiding for it. His watch is why they call it a ‘watch’, because I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Etc. Etc.
Regular people don’t have a watch like that. He must be “someone,” as they say in L.A.
I un-hypnotize myself from his wrist-Atlantis, and slyly pull my sleeve down over my Fossil (water resistant up to 150 ft), which suddenly lives up to its’ Paleolithic name, in comparison.
We sit on a concrete bench, huffing our puffs in semi-silence. At this point I know he’s famous, but I can’t figure out who he is. I’m making small talk hoping his tongue will drop a clue, while sneaking glimpses of his eyes through the side of his sunglasses, but still can’t place him.
Just when I’m about to flat out ask him who he is, he looks at me with that look I don’t get very often anymore. That ‘didn’t we go to school together’ look I’d get from countless strangers, when I’d get recognized from my pre-comedian years, as an MTV reality cast member.
“I think I’ve seen you before,” he says.
Instead of trying to deduce whether we have friends in common, I cut to the cheese; we have a network in common. “I’m a comic, and I worked on MTV when I was younger.” (I retired from my MTV reality years before his first show Rob and Big hit the air in 2006.) “My name’s Theo.”
“I remember you,” he replies.
It feels cool to be recognized randomly by someone you don’t know. But not when you know they are more popular. Way more popular. Light years more. At that point it feels like poker, and I just went all in with a pair of 6’s.
He takes off his black Ray Bans. “I’m Rob,” he says.
ROYAL FUCKING FLUSH.
He’s not just Rob.
Rob is a guy that pumps gas at a service station, bags groceries or takes your sister on a bad date. He is the Rob of Robs. Rob Dyrdek; the current Golden Boy of MTV (that’s him to the right), five years running since taking the throne from Ashton. He is a professional skateboarder, and has a new show called Ridiculousness on MTV, which media opinionists are saying tries to rival Daniel Tosh and Tosh.0. I haven’t seen the show, but being a stand-up, I have heard about the backlash from Tosh.0 fans.
“Good to meet you. I used to watch your show Rob and Big. You been busy like crazy. How’s your new show going? Heard you been catching flack off the Tosh.0 crowd?” I say, ask, and blurt, in one exhale.
Now in the world, I believe that some people have questions, and some people have answers. There’s no doubt that Rob Dyrdek is an answer guy, because the next three minutes are an information blur. In a second he is standing, and sentences are spinning out of him like word tornados. Dialogue is gone; monologue is on. Here’s an abridged version of what I caught:
Shows…. Clothes… Marketing… Sponsors… Big Black… MTV… Here’s the crazy thing. I sold Ridiculousness to MTV 5 years ago. But we got so busy with Rob and Big and Fantasy Factory, that we didn’t have a chance to shoot it. I’m not trying to bite off of Tosh at all. He’s a comedian. I’m not. We just couldn’t tape til recently…
As he takes his inhale, I take a visual inhale of him. He’s 5’ 7” esque. Maybe 5’ 8’. Rob’s not big. (Ha. Ya get it! Rob’s not Big. I crack myself up sometimes. Blargh!) And you really gotta look at him to see him, because he’s covered in fashion accessories. You almost can’t see the Rob for the accou-tree-ments. Rob’s got that escaped Buckle Mannequin appearance that seems to have taken over LA, and subsequently America. There isn’t a part of him that isn’t sporting something. Tats, hat/sunglasses combo, big sneakers, bright belt and skinny jeans that somehow low-ride at the waist, like they’ve spent all their energy climbing their owners’ legs, that there’s just nothing left in the tank to hold onto the hips as well.
Speaking of hip, he is just that; hip. He doesn’t come off gaudy, but trendy, and then beyond trendy. Like Trend-iana Jones. Like, he will grab a whip and roll out junglin’ if it means discovering the next fad. He’s just got that vibe that says he makes the chain, and others get linked in.
(HE EXHALES) … and continues:
….Shows…. Clothes… Marketing… Sponsors…Global…MTV… Tosh.0 is pretty scripted, where my show is just loose. It’s true to the title, Ridiculous. It’s just me and my buddies improvising. Our show is more based around crazy skate stunts and all, where his is much broader. I hate that it’s even mentioned like we did anything like that because we didn’t. It just took that long to make the show. And in the meantime a Tosh.0 came out. I wish everyone would just know that.
I was thankful the cigarette was a slow burning American Spirit, because I was enjoying the ‘show’ that is Rob Dyrdek. I mean the guy doesn’t speak, he performs. His arms, legs and stance gesticulating in perfect harmony with his words, as if his body is a well trained marionette to of his thoughts. It’s honestly amazing to watch. At first glance on TV he comes off like the Peter Pan of Skate Boarding, and at first glance in person he looks like Swag-squatch, but after three minutes of listening to the guy there is no doubt that he’s a business man. A fearless fountain of entrepreneurism and planning and brand control. He filled my ears and brain to their brim with talk about networks in other countries, packaging, distribution, planning, pre-planning, endorsement, backend, organization, conglomerate bullying, half piping, and MORE.
It was honestly a spectacle. I didn’t really have a perception of Dyrdek before, because I don’t watch him, and have ever stepped foot on a skateboard. But after that oration I have a decent idea of how he rolls. He’s confident. Bigger in brains and voice than his stature. He thinks and moves at his own Dyrdekian speed. He’s convincing. He’s smart. He’s two steps ahead of his own words, but can stop on a consonant to hear your input. He’s very alive.
Simultaneous with our cigarettes reaching their finish lines, a producer popped out of the patio door. “Theo, you ready?” (I’m screen testing for a hosting gig for a new game show.)
“Thanks for the smoke,” I said.
“No problem. Good luck with the stand-up,” he countered. “You know I tried stand-up once. It was intense. My mom actually came to the show. And I thought it would make me more nervous, but I let everyone know she was in the audience, and made jokes about she and I. It went pretty well. Take it easy, man.”
I’m not surprised his one attempt at stand-up went well. He seems to have that gift of making things go well. Or making things… until they go well.
“You too, bro,” I closed with as we walked inside. Me back to my small hill of a screen test, him back to his mountain of entrepreneurial mogulism; two ships having passed in the smokers’ back patio afternoon.