We’ve long had an obsession with flyer folk, and last night on Broad City, Abbi became one of them when her laundromat lost a treasured clothing item and she decided to post flyers for her “MISSING SWEATSHIRT” (or was that “MISSING: SWEATSHIRT”?). At one point, she ducks into a deli and posts her flyer right next to a parody of the mother of them all: “Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar.”
In the Broad City version (at the 11:37 mark of the episode), the flyer reads “John Cox Will Teach You Saxophone,” and depicts a sax-blowing dude promising “Any age level! You choose the song! Even today’s pop hits!” (Sadly, the mock-up isn’t one of the Broad City props currently being auctioned off.)
When we called Dan Smith– yes, the Dan Smith– to tell him about it (and to maybe ask him about nailing a tricky transition in “My Name Is Jonas”), he said he was “very flattered” by the homage, but he didn’t seem all that surprised. After all, his ubiquitous lo-fi ads have previously been parodied by shows and films like BoJack Horseman (“Clam Smith Will Teach You Guitar”) and The Love Guru (“Guru Pitka Will Teach You Sitar”). They’ve been adapted by fellow guitar gods like John Mayer and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. They’ve inspired horror-movie trailers, novelty songs, even a sandwich.
“It’s a gas,” Smith told us. But he made clear that he isn’t exactly scrapbooking these tributes. “I’ve kind of stopped paying attention at this point; there’ve been so many. It was kind of fun for a few years but there were so many of them that I was like, ok, whatever, next.”
Did Dan Smith just “thank u, next” his own flyers?
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Actually, the slender fingerpicker does have some favorites, like that time Jon Stewart’s head was superimposed onto a flyer that itself was later knocked off for Stephen Colbert’s Daily Show reunion. But Smith doesn’t want to be known as a marketing maven. He wants the attention to be on his $125, hour-long guitar lessons; on the “life-changing” student showcases he occasionally hosts at West End Lounge; and on his own work. (He’s releasing a new song and music video in the coming days, so keep an eye on his Instagram and website.)
For better or worse, Smith’s flyers aren’t quite as ubiquitous around the Village as they were years ago. (These days you’re just as likely to see “Learn Guitar with James Berry.” Yeah, right.) Smith says it’s mostly because he lives in Midtown, teaches in an Upper West Side studio, and is too busy, well, teaching you guitar to get downtown much these days. But he says you can still find his handiwork posted in the laundromats, pizzerias, and nail salons of neighborhoods like Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side, Murray Hill, and Gramercy. After experimenting with alternate taglines, a “major pivot,” and some meta messaging, the flyers have “gone back to the classic” look, he told us. You can see the latest version, along with many a knockoff, via #dansmithwillplayyouguitar.
For the record, Smith denies accusations that he never updates the flyer’s photos. “I don’t change that much,” the 47-year-old insists. “I found a look a while back and it works for me.”