Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

The comedian/writer/rapper is on a collision course with stardom

Then he got a call from Community. The character of Troy was actually written for a white guy, but he made it his own. Troy was also originally supposed to be paired up on the show with Chevy Chase's character, Pierce, but it was clear early on that Glover's Troy would enjoy a heated bromance with Danny Pudi's film-school geek, Abed.

"It was pretty immediate," says Pudi of the connection as he watches Glover's band set up for a show on the cracked concrete outdoor patio of Austin's Red 7 bar. "Both characters do things at 150 percent," from bonding over Kickpuncher to building a dorm-wide blanket fort. Pudi has come down to Austin to party and hang with his friend and watch him perform. The line to get into the club on 7th Street stretches down the block, a diverse mix of b-boys and hipsters and normal-looking folk excited to see the guy from Community.

Glover appears from backstage wearing a vintage-looking red Coca-Cola T-shirt, tight jeans, and green-and-white Adidas. (See our review of the show, "Live: Donald Glover Gets Emo as Childish Gambino During SXSW.") He is going solo tonight—his writing partner Pierson is back in L.A.—but I ask him if Pierson ever sealed the deal with a cute chick he was talking up before the Woodies a few nights ago.

Chad Griffith; Hair and makeup styling by Valissa Yoe
Chad Griffith; Hair and makeup styling by Valissa Yoe

"Which chick?" he asks, confused.

"The cute blond chick he was rapping to," I answer.

"Oh, that one," Glover says loudly with a smile. "No, I hooked up with that chick."

"But DC was killing it!" I say incuriously.

"I know DC was killing it!" he retorts, and then says sincerely and unapologetically: "But I have money."

He's not saying it to be a dick—that was just the dynamic. "We started talking about money, and she was like, 'So you think money is evil?' and I'm like, 'Money isn't evil.' But I could see dollar signs in her eyes."

"So does she keep texting you?" I ask.

"Nah," says he with a bigger smile. "I asked for her number first. I always ask for their number first. They see you put it into the phone and they're like, 'OK, he's doing it,' but . . ." his big smile turns into a sheepish grin. "Yeah, I'm a little girl-crazy." ("He's a silent assassin that way," Pudi remarks later about his sitcom partner's prowess.)

Glover, talking in a tone between a hush and a whisper as he tries to save his voice, goes back to his MacBook on the side of the stage to work on arrangements for the show.

He has told his entourage that now is the time to strike. When most performers usually wrap a TV show, they take a holiday. But he is charging ahead. The week of SXSW, he wedged a Chicago performance on Friday in between the Wednesday's mtvU Woodie Awards, Thursday's unexpected cameo at the Voice/Wu-Tang show at the Austin Music Hall, and Saturday's show at Red 7. Then he's going to do another gig in Texas, one in a church in Atlanta, up to New York for the Comedy Central taping, then Virginia, back to Texas, up to Arkansas. Nonstop. Why the rush?

"Funny you should ask, because we were just talking about that," says Glover's manager, Greg Walter, as we eye Glover talking to the band on the stage. "For the past three months, I have not been calling him saying, 'Take this job.' I am usually calling him saying, 'Don't take this job—you need rest.' I get worried because he doesn't sleep enough. I tell him to slow down, and he says, 'You know what, I'm 26, 27—I can do it now.' "

Pudi, who looks decidedly healthy and rested in a military cap and fresh face, walks up to the side of the stage. Glover sees him and flashes a smile.

"Are you alive?" Pudi yells, leaning his body across the stage.

Glover, still resting his voice, holds up his pointer and thumb, pinched with little space in between.

Just barely.

The previous week had been one of the biggest in Glover's career.

On Tuesday, March 8, he released the new Childish Gambino EP. Over the next four days, he was on the set of Community as they tried to finish shooting the second season before the weekend. He wove press interviews about Childish Gambino in between takes, and after each day's wrap went back to his studio to remix some more songs and put them on the Web. At night, he was preparing for the Comedy Central special as well as working on slides for the "I Am Donald" tour. He spent eight hours on Saturday, March 12, covered in orange paint for the last day of shooting for Community. (They are revisiting a paintball theme.) 5-Hour Energy. Whiskey. Remixing. Girls. Bits and beats flowing through his head that needed to be captured on his iPhone. Writing a new song for the Woodies. Sunday was a Community goodbye get-together followed by performing at his regular Sunday-night comedy show, Shitty Jobs.

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