Interview With The Man Behind Karl Welzein (@DadBoner)

@Dadboner Power Moves
Photo: Karl

Really lookin’ forward to the weekend, you guys, because we got our hands on “Power Moves: Livin’ the American Dream, USA Style.” The new book follows the adventures of Karl Welzein, aka @DadBoner. Babes, bold flavors and beers: Karl Welzein follows Guy Code to the extreme. We caught up with the author and creator, Mike Burns, to learn a little bit more about the man behind the boner.

If you’re in New York tonight, go see @DadBoner & Friends, You Guys at the Bell House at 8pm.

Why DadBoner?
Originally, the Twitter feed was filled with references to thing that give dads “boners.” A new Big Bertha, some Dockers khakis, a couple beers they’re not supposed to have, an old Pam Anderson Playboy. Stuff like that. Also, “DadBoner” is a funny word. I’m a 12-year-old.

Have you ever deleted or regretted a DadBoner tweet?
I went on a rant once around Thanksgiving where I had Karl make some ignorant comments about Native Americans. It was meant to make him sound stupid, but those comments hurt some people’s feelings. I felt terrible about it. But because there isn’t any correspondence between the Karl and real people, I wasn’t able to say, “Hey wait, let me explain!”

Was there a moment when you realized DadBoner was a success?

The first time I showed it to my manager and some of my friends, and they died laughing while reading it. That was true success for me. Comedians live to make their buddies laugh.

Is there a typical DadBoner fan? What do you think his appeal is?
Of course, there are middle aged, beer drinkin’ dudes who laugh with him, but there’s also college kids who think he’s “the old guy you’d love to party with,” and intelligent women who laugh AT him. And my mom, she loves Karl. Today she told me how she was reading it waiting to go into the eye doctor and laughing her ass off like a weirdo. And believe me, my mom doesn’t always laugh at my “humor.”

I think his appeal is, there’s little bit of DadBoner in all of us. Maybe you relate to how he likes to get drunk at Chili’s, or how you get mad when your sports team loses, or how it feels to lie to yourself about where your life is professionally…

How much of your life is used as inspiration for the DadBoner persona?
I would say 85%.

How have people in your personal life responded to DadBoner? Do they ever recognize themselves in some of his tweets?
Everyone talks about Karl as if he’s someone we know. So do I, which makes me a crazy person.

They absolutely recognize themselves, because I tell them when they do something gross or stupid, “Oh man, you’re gonna be Dave today.” Then I’d have Karl’s roommate Dave do something similar, but even worse. That sounds kind of mean, I guess. But always well deserved.

What happened to the original DadBoner photo?
One day, Twitter took it down. I didn’t argue. It wasn’t mine. Luckily, Karl was babysitting some kid named “Big J” at the time, who needed to draw someone for “The Wall of Heroes” at school. Karl suggested that Big J draw him, and that’s where the current avatar came from.

Why’d Peanut have to die?
Peanut gave his life for the sins of Deadspin’s prying eyes. He went out like a soldier.

What has been the strangest tweet or fan interaction with DadBoner?
Karl was sent some racy photos to his personal email account through Craigslist from some attractive young ladies. Wait, that was more “awesome” than “strange.”

Is there an end game for Karl Welzein?
I’ve thought about it, but I can’t say. I hate to think about not having him around anymore.

Karl wanted a Camaro for his book deal, what would Mike Burns want?
Mike Burns also wants a Camaro.

What can someone expect from a DadBoner & friends live show?
Loud ’80s rock music, beer drinking, and dick and s**t jokes.

All of the comics on the shows are amazing friends of mine or people I admire and get to approach to be a performer. Everyone usually does a bit a stand-up, topped off by a reading from the book. Hearing everyone’s “voice” of Karl is so interesting and gratifying. At the end, we do a live reading of Karl’s script, “Roadhouse 2013: Pain Still Don’t Hurt.”

How does your stand-up persona differ from the voice of Karl Welzein?
I’d say it’s similar in the way that they’re both “personas” a lot of the time. And I’d say it differs in that I’m not an insane person who lives in his car. I live in an apartment.

Will Karl ever get his boat out?
He did. It’s knocked over on its side, rotting in the parking lot of his old apartment building. Kinda concerning?

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Sean Green is a stand-up comedian and podcast host living in L.A.