TV & Movies

Dear James Van Der Beek: You're the Most Underrated Comedian of Our Generation

Van Der Beek is funny AF as DJ Diplo in Viceland's new parody show, What Would Diplo Do?—and the world needs to start appreciating his genius now

Actor James Van Der Beek posing in a stripped dress shirt and black jacket

(Photo: Getty)

Dear James Van Der Beek,

I want to start off this love letter by apologizing on behalf of The New York Times.

Last week, the Times published an article about you and your new show, “What Would Diplo Do?” where they wrote, “It turns out that James Van Der Beek is funny.” TURNS OUT!? How is the news outlet JUST discovering this? Have they been too busy on the Trump trail to pay attention to your burgeoning career? It must be so insulting to only be seriously recognized for your comedic genius now.

Speaking of “What Would Diplo Do?,” Viceland’s first scripted show premiering tonight, you play the 38-year-old EDM producer/DJ in a satirical manner. The concept of the show may be confusing to those who don’t understand your creativity: you play a self-obsessed Diplo who can’t stop saying “fam” in a fictionalized series based on the life of the real Diplo. Plus, the real Diplo (born Thomas Wesley Pentz) is an executive producer on the show, so he’s in on the joke, too. As you explained to the Times, you guys are experimenting in “that meta space.”

You are hilarious as a hyped-up faux Diplo. Like many great method actors, you’ve taken this role seriously, and have started a Twitter account as the DJ. Your tweets are gold (“EDM used to stand for Essential Diplo Music back in 2002 when i was the only one doing it. been p annoying watching the phrase get stolen”), and you’ve even managed to get into a fight with breakfast chain Denny’s and you’ve apparently been blocked by Lena Dunham. It’s unclear whether people realize your profile is a parody account, (which make your 140-character quips even funnier, IMO), as your sexy ’stache and recent affinity for black baseball caps make your resemblance to Diplo uncanny.

But your latest project isn’t the first time you’ve played an exaggerated version of a real person. In the short-lived but legit funny sitcom Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, you played yourself, James Van Der Beek, a washed-up, one-time Dawson’s Creek heartthrob trying to revive your acting career in New York City. You had no problem making fun of yourself, which in turn made me realize how much untapped comedic potential you had. I’d like to consider myself one of your earliest—and longest lasting—supporters.

While most people remember you as sensitive and sweet Dawson Leery, I hope people can finally see the real James Van Der Beek: a talented comedian who does not look 40 years old. And as you told the Times, you’re approaching your Diplo role as you do your others.

“What you have to do is develop a fully fleshed-out character,” you said. “You have to come up with a reason to want to follow this person, to want to stay with them and be in their world.”

We want you to stay in our world, James.

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