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So Funny I Forgot to Laugh!

Chris D'Elia's Loveably Clueless Rap Persona

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Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 3:30 AM

click to enlarge D'Elia/Smith on the Such Is Life album cover
  • D'Elia/Smith on the Such Is Life album cover

The internet has made the dream of becoming a rapper attainable for many poseurs, ridiculous characters and shameless self promoters. Even comedians.

Take Los Angeles-based comic Chris D'Elia, most famous for his role as Alex Miller on the NBC show Whitney...

His rap alter-ego is called Chank Smith, a rather clueless, wacky-yet-aggressive MC full of lyrics like: "I'm not religious dog/ I don't follow Christ/ And I don't give a fuck/ He still think I'm nice." He chose the name Chank, D'Elia says, because it sounds vaguely offensive.

This Sunday, September 15, D'Elia -- and Smith -- will appear at the Oddball Comedy Festival in Irvine, opening for Flight of the Conchords and Dave Chappelle.

The rap alter ego makes a certain sense. After all the stand-up work of D'Elia, who also has appeared in the television series Workaholics and co-hosts The Ten Minute Podcast [ink to this], is full of hip-hop references. His "Drake Bit" makes fun of ridiculous lyrics. The character sprung, D'Elia says, from his sessions rapping in his car.

But he needed a back story; when a friend asked where Smith was from, D'Elia impulsively said Primm, Nevada -- the small town of outlet stores and casinos known by most as a rest stop on the way to Las Vegas.

The difference between Chank Smith and, say, Jamie' Kennedy's preposterous creation B-Rad? "Chank Smith is genuine," D'Elia says. "Chank really believes he is a rapper."

Indeed, on Smith's free mix tape, Such is Life, his flow, beats and even some of his lyrics aren't meant to be ironic. The character, if slightly dimwitted, nonetheless aspires to become a superstar. He is a ridiculous, but realistic enough to be believable.

In "Remember When," Chank muses on candy cigarettes, a questionable crush on seven year old when he was 12, and a sexual moment with his "dude friend."

It often works because D'Elia isn't making fun of rap music -- he's making fun of himself. "I really want to make a good sounding album that you would listen to," D'Elia says.

As such, D'Elia teamed up with producer Mr. Green, known for his work with Pace Won as well as Snoop Dogg, Malik B, and Matisyahu.

"I'm definintely looking into making a new album and am thinking of working with other rappers that are up and coming like Chank," says D'Elia. He's even thinking about a Chank Smith movie. Just don't expect Malibu's Most Wanted.

See also: Becoming Riff Raff: How a White Suburban Kid Morphed Into Today's Most Enigmatic Rapper

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