‘Dave’ Favorite GaTa Breaks Down His Vulnerable Episode About Mental Health

GaTa and Dave Burd in 'Dave'
Byron Cohen/FX

FXX comedy Dave has covered a lot in its three seasons, but series star Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky) has asserted that the latest episodes are some of the best of the series, which uses witty satire to touch upon sensitive topics.

The April 26 episode, “The Storm,” is one of those, and it opens with Dave receiving some harsh reactions from fans in Mississippi after he chooses to serenade plus-sized Meg (Melanie Erlich) on stage. As a peace offering, Dave insists that Meg ride with the crew to their next show in Memphis, but they’re soon forced to seek shelter from a passing hurricane at Meg’s “insanely” conservative Christian home.

As the crew joins the family for dinner, the conversation reveals varying religious and political views and allows for actor-rapper GaTa to open up about his battles with addiction and abandonment.

TV Insider was lucky enough to sit down with the artist and mental health advocate about his vulnerability on screen and what he hopes people take away from his performance.

Let me just start off by saying great performance in this special episode. It was really good.

GaTa G.E.D: Woo! Did it move you?!

GaTa and Dave Burd in 'Dave'

Byron Cohen/FX

Very powerful, I loved it.

Thank you, thank you.

In your monologue, you cite Michael Jordan as a sort of father figure whom you looked up to growing up with an absentee dad. What did watching him as a role model instill in you?

Man, just show up. Always give it your best, you know, ’cause half the battle, some people don’t even want to be present. You gotta be present. You gotta be ready for your moment. So when that rock is passed to you, you hit that game winner because you showed up and you were prepared. You got around the screen, all the trials and tribulations. You just gotta be available to win.

How is it playing “yourself” on-screen? Has it influenced how you approach being an artist or acting in general?

Oh, man, playing myself has been a great experience, because I feel like this is who I’ve always been throughout these years. People are just now getting to see it. Now that I’m comfortable at the position that I’m in and where I’m going in my trajectory, I could just really be patient when I’m really just mastering my craft. Whether it’s doing music, whether it’s acting, it just makes me feel like I got time to get better, because I don’t want to be in a rush.

These episodes that we’re putting out, these songs we’re putting out, they gonna live forever, so you might as well take your time and do it right the first time, so you won’t be feeling unsure. That’s why I just asked you, “Did it move you?” because I know that I gave it my all.

How did you get through this episode while keeping your composure?

It was definitely a challenge because everything that I was saying in those takes, in and out of takes was true. I really lost my mom to drug addiction, so that really hit home. It’s not really hard for me to get emotional, because that’s my real life. I really lived through that trauma of not knowing my real mom and my real dad and losing them to drug addiction and stuff like that.

So it’s easy for me to go from high and cold, because I really walk that thin line of being bipolar and going through trauma and having ups and downs . So yeah, it was hard, it was challenging, because that’s my truth. When I give those moments, there is truth in there.

Has it been a form of therapy for you? These episodes where you are revealing some parts of yourself, does it help you combat or at least face things you didn’t think you would ever face?

Oh yeah, it’s definitely a free form of therapy, and that’s what I want to advise everybody, that communicating is the best form of therapy — talking to people, and sharing your thoughts and feelings, whether they are bad or good. So, when I’m doing these episodes, I’m basically getting free therapy because I get to let out all the stuff that I’m overwhelmed with — whether it’s with my career or my family, my friends, whatever — because life is always going through a curveballs at you. So it’s just all about how you get out of the way or whether you hit the home run or not.

Travis 'Taco' Bennett, Andrew Santino, Dave Burd, GaTa, and Christine Ko in 'Dave'

Byron Cohen/FX

What is something that you learned from your castmates while filming?

Basically working with my cast for the third year in a row just doing this third season, it’s just given me more appreciation of having coworkers, because sometimes I’ll be in an artist mode. Like me and Dicky, we really do music. We rappers, like, really believe in ourselves. So it really made me feel like… It’s not just about you, you know. It’s a lot of valuable people that could be around you… I take notes from Santino. I take notes from Christine. I love having phone conversations about fashion and being overseas with Travis Bennett, Taco. So it just makes me appreciate people more. It makes you feel like I can take some pressure off, you know it’s cool. I got some good people around me. I ain’t always got to tell the joke. [Laughs]

What’s one thing that you want people who do (or maybe don’t) battle with addiction to take away from this episode?

One day at a time. That’s all it is. You can’t just expect to change overnight…When you’re battling with addiction, just take it one day at a time. You gotta take your time when you’re doing anything in life, and that’s how you get better, that’s how you become great. Just one foot forward, one day at a time.

Have you grown more compassionate towards yourself throughout this series?

I’ve grown more compassionate for everybody, myself included. I really just feel like you know, life is short. You just gotta have a big heart, love all, and just do the best job that you can every day. This is people’s time we’re playing with, ain’t nobody got time to be watching no TV show and not liking it. I take everything serious. [Laughs]

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to tell me, but should we expect a full-length project from you after the series is done?

You definitely can. I got songs in the vault, I’m ready. I can’t wait to package it up, and I’mma keep on dropping bangers, but I’mma drop some more music videos, too.

Dave, Wednesdays, 10/9c, FXX