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                                             Noted wiseass David Spade
                                             is more than Chris Farley's
                                             little buddy

                                             By Jane Wollman Rusoff 

  DAVID SPADE is the thirty-one-year-old comedian best known for
  skewering celebrities during his snide "Hollywood Minute" segments
  on Saturday Night Live. This season, with his "Spade in America"
 spots, he is struggling to adopt a kinder, gentler attitude. ("I'm trying to
 get away from being smart-assy, because I don't want to get laughs by
 being mean to people. When I was a nobody blindsiding stars, it was
funny. But I'm kind of one of them now, so it doesn't make as much

     He is also trying to diversify by adding physical shtick to his brand of
 cutting verbal humor, co-starring as wrangler to oafish S.N.L. alumnus
  Chris Farley in the new film Black Sheep and last year's Tommy Boy.
("At first I was scared of being pigeonholed as an overpaid actor, but
 then I was okay with that. Actually, to make a film once a year would be
  fine, but doing movies only with Chris wasn't in the plan. I don't mind,
 but I'd like to mix it up and do something else in the interim.") 

     He has met many celebrities as a result of his run on Saturday Night
 Live, and has particularly fond memories of his encounter with Sean

     He is in his sixth season on the show, where he also created the snooty
 receptionist--"And you are . . . ?"--and the brusque, "buh-bye-ing" flight
attendant. He says he will not return next season because it is too taxing
on his nervous system. ("When I leave, it will be to ease the pressure,
 not to be a movie star. You can't stay there forever--it kills you inside. It
ages you in dog years. It's a tough place.") 

     He is totally bushed on Sundays, after S.N.L.'s week-long workout. ("I
 lay low, sulk a lot, and try to get my head together for next week.") He
 has chronic neck pain that doctors say is caused by stress. He routinely
kvetches about life to his apartment doorman, who suggests that he
 count his blessings. ("He's like, 'Yeah, you've got a TV show and a
 movie. It must be rough.'") 

     He was born on July 22, 1964, in Birmingham, Michigan. He says,
 however, that he considers Scottsdale, Arizona, where he moved at age
four, to be his real home. His parents divorced around the time of the
 move, and his mother, raising three kids, had to work two jobs. ("It was
hard for her, but she kept it from us.") 

He spent some lonely years in elementary school, where his advanced
reading and math levels made him an outcast. ("It wasn't the road to a
social life. In grade school I was smart, but I didn't have any friends. In
 high school, I quit being smart and started having friends.") 

          He dropped out of college, where he was studying business, to pursue
stand-up comedy, and supported himself by working in a skateboard
shop. His stepfather's suicide, followed closely by his best friend's death
in a motorcycle crash, propelled him into comedy full-time. ("When my
stepfather died, I just kind of fell apart. I felt pretty vulnerable, like there
literally could be no tomorrow--that while I was doing a lot of talking,
 everything could end. So I figured if I don't go after it now, I might never
get to do it.") 

      He had enjoyed Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Eddie
 Murphy on previous incarnations of S.N.L., but he never dreamed of
being a comic himself until he happened upon an open-mike night at a
club. ("I was horrible, but I kept doing it because it was an
overwhelming challenge. When I got to the point of doing it
professionally, I couldn't believe it.") He got his big break thanks to
former S.N.L. star Dennis Miller. 

     His first season on the show, he was on-camera only three times. ("I was
a writer-performer, but they didn't want me to perform because Dana
Carvey was there. Also, they wanted me to pay my dues.") 

     He divides his time between apartments in Manhattan and Los Angeles's
San Fernando Valley and a house in Phoenix. He has no significant other
at this time. He favors women not in the public eye. ("I have no stories to
sell. A lot of my relationships are with civilians, and no one wants to hear
about those.") 

     He reads U.S.A. Today and a variety of magazines on everything from
showbiz to coin collecting to skateboarding. ("I have two skateboards,
but I don't get to use them much. I have a snowboard, which I've never
used. The second you get enough money to screw around, you have no
time to do it.") 

       He hasn't had a fistfight since the sixth grade, when a fellow Little
Leaguer started an altercation. ("I was very scared. But he was hitting
me, so I had to unleash my big guns. I just snapped. Eventually, I won
the fight.") He dates his worst haircut to his senior year of high school.
("It was this feathered cut, combed to the side--which I continue to wear
today. I have no detectable hair style.") 

      He likes toasted onion bagels with butter or cream cheese. His
Manhattan apartment notwithstanding, he has not seen much of New
 York's other boroughs, and has been to Brooklyn only once. ("I was
constantly scared. Chris Rock and I drove his shiny new Corvette
through a bad neighborhood. I told him, 'You're asking for trouble
dangling this candy.' A week later he got mugged. They shouted, 'Yo!
You Chris Rock?' He goes, 'Yeah!' So they beat him up and took his

       He is a sound sleeper who likes his bedroom window shut at night. His
favorite bedwear is a pair of "silk jammies" he received for Christmas.
He has the softest, most expensive bed he could find in each of his three
homes. ("I have a big, juicy bed. Because of my neck problem, I just
want to squish down like a marshmallow.") 

                  DAVID SPADE'S BEST DIGS

                  By Lloyd Grove
                  Washington Post Staff Writer
                  Wednesday, February 25, 1998; Page D01

"You're with your new buddy now," David Spade
This is a bit of a stretch. Given his biting comic
persona  with its tone of unctuous geniality that
suddenly turns into snide disdain  it's easier to believe that Spade is just
setting up another of his caustic punch lines. 

After all, he established himself in the popular culture of the '90s as the
stiletto-tongued entertainment reporter who presented the "Hollywood
Minute" on "Saturday Night Live"  once obliterating "SNL" alumnus
Eddie Murphy, whose film career was in decline, with: "Look, kids, a
falling star! ... Make a wish!" He has reinforced this mordant pose with his
portrayals of a sarcastic assistant at a fashion magazine on the hit NBC
series "Just Shoot Me" (which this week joins the network's formidable
Thursday lineup, airing at 8:30) and a rich, snotty frat boy who torments
financial aid student Marlon Wayans in the movie comedy "Senseless." 

So is this self-avowed "new buddy" zinging his interviewer about the
soul-killing superficiality of the celebrity/journalist co-dependency? Or is it
just possible that Spade merely wants to be ... friendly? 

"It's just easier to make fun and cut down," he explains quite amiably,
deconstructing his trademark humor over breakfast at the Four Seasons
Hotel in Georgetown. "It's kind of a way of life in America. So if you can
make that an art form, where people want to hear what you're going to
say about something, it can be cruel and funny. ... And, hopefully,
underlying all my jokes is an element of surprise." 

It's the morning after the 33-year-old Spade,
taking advantage of a recent break from "Just
 Shoot Me," visited New York for guest
appearances on Howard Stern's radio show
and David Letterman's television show, where
he was obliged to discuss the December
drug-overdose death of his comic soulmate
Chris Farley. Then Spade trekkedto D.C. to
do his stand-up routine for an audience of
3,000 at George Washington University. 

Stubble-chinned and sleepy-eyed, wan and waiflike, he resembles a
college kid recovering from an all-nighter. He barely belongs amid the
sleek power-breakfasters who populate the Four Seasons dining room. A
skinny 5 feet 6, he suffers from hypoglycemia, a stiff neck and a bad back,
among other complaints. His left hand is blackly inked with scrawled
names and phone numbers he would otherwise forget. A baseball cap is
jammed over his straw-blond, shower-wet hair. 

"There's always really a hint of truth that makes it worth saying," Spade
continues his humor analysis, furtively forking his scrambled eggs,
garnished with an artery-clogging rasher of bacon and sausage. He
washes it down, incongruously, with a bottle of Evian. "Sometimes that
                  makes the joke a little harder. 

 "If you hung out with me and my friends for five minutes, I would be
 eliminated from show business," Spade goes on. He's alluding to his comic
stance as a victimized white Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, ashamed of his
political incorrectness but resentful of such daily affronts as an
inconsiderate Hispanic hotel maid, screeching "House-kipping!" at 6 a.m.,
or a fast-talking Chinese real estate agent trying to gouge him on a Beverly
Hills rental property. Both are staples of his stand-up act. 

 "Some of the things you say offend so many people," he says. "Like that
 stupid JonBenet joke." 

The day before on Stern's show, Spade had complained about seeing yet
another photograph of JonBenet Ramsey in the National Enquirer. He
observed: "She's not as hot without makeup." That prompted Spade's
60-year-old mother in Scottsdale, Ariz., to call him and chide, "That was
a terrible thing to say. I hated myself for laughing." 

"It's so weird to see her wearing that red cowboy hat with sparkles on it,
singing 'I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,'" Spade says, analyzing his quip
about the bludgeoned beauty princess. "It's so creepy. ... I'm saying:
'Don't make your kids look hot and dirty and sexy when they're 5 years
old! It's really not the place or the time. You're about 11 years early.' " 

Similarly, Spade's jokes about his deadbeat dad, who abandoned his
mother and two older brothers when Davey was 5, are bristling with
indignation. "My dad just took off. It was one of those divorces, he split
one day and then he'd show up once a year and give me a Nerf football
for Christmas, thought he was my hero again. 'Oh thanks, Dad. Wow, it's
two colors! You spoil me, you [contemptible expletive]!' 

"I talk to my dad all the time, he's more like my buddy than my father, and
he's not happy that I use him in my act," Spade says. "But I tell him, 'Hey,
Dad, I'm sorry, but I have to get something out of this.' " 

Sometimes Spade's humor has a dark moral center. And sometimes it's
just . . . dark, as in this perverse vision of Spadian bliss: "I just want to get
away from it all. Get away from showbiz. Get some girl out in the middle
of the boonies, like in Montana, hundreds of miles from civilization, sittin'
in a cabin with some cutie, curled up in front of a fire. And just say stuff to
her like: 'Scream all you want, sugar! Ain't nobody gonna hear you! ...
Yeah, there was a rock in that snowball.' " 

"I think that comes from when he was a kid, when there was a lot of
anger," says his 35-year-old brother Andy, a former advertising executive
who, with his fashion-designer wife, runs the tres chic Kate Spade
handbag company. "David's best stuff is that dark stuff  the stuff that
comes from within." 

"David is a watcher," says his mother, Judy Todd, a freelance writer and
editor who was owner of Arizona's Tempe magazine until she sold it last
year. "He would always watch everyone very carefully  he was always
very subtle  and then he'd come up with a zinger. He can pick apart your
words and memorize them as though he had a photographic memory.
Even today, he'll stand in a corner at a party, and he'll have everyone's
character down when the party's over." 

Spade was born in Michigan, where he lived until he was 4. Then his
father, Wayne, an erstwhile advertising copywriter who goes by the
nickname Sam  and is known as "Peewee" in his son's routine  moved
the family to Arizona and vanished shortly thereafter. 

"I was a somewhat bright child, which led to different sorts of problems,"
David recalls. "In second grade, I moved up to fourth grade math and
reading. There was an option to skip a grade but I was sooo tiny and
microscopic that my mom was, like, 'He has enough [expletive] now, let's
not make his life totally terrible.' I stayed in my grade but alienated
everyone by being, like, 'brainiac.' " 

These are obviously painful memories, but Spade long ago converted
them into material. 
"I was a nerd to the bone, buddy. I was a coin collector instead of a
football player. But it was hard to get laid by telling a girl that you have a
1916D Mercury dime in very fine condition. That's not gonna close many
sales for you. I literally had a girl in my room once, showing her, like,
Indian pennies. She just wasn't into it. ... 

"And then, when I got to high school, my older brother was cool, so I was
suddenly cool by association. And I totally dusted all my old math friends.
I was, like, "Hey, nerds, why don't you go do some flashcards? Hey,
c'mon, new friends, let's go to assembly!' Doo-dee-doo-dee. 

"I wanted to go to a big college, but my guidance counselor said, 'We're
gonna try to get you into community college.' From there I went to
Arizona State University. At ASU the wheels came off, because I started
trying to do stand-up. Once I found something I liked, I didn't care about
all that other stuff and school started to suck. ... 

"This was the start of the comedy sweep of the early '80s. The Improvs
started to sprout up around the country. I was 18 when I first tried it, and
I was horrible. It was tough for about six months, and to make money I
picked up work as a busboy, valet parker, skateboard shop employee.
Then I finally moved to California. Eventually I had a decent 20-minute

He auditioned at the Improv in Los Angeles. "They let me in on, like, a
scam," he says. "They didn't think I was the funniest. They just didn't have
one of me. I had long, blond hair and I was 20 or 21. And I had a kind of
different take. There was Richard Belzer, Paul Reiser, Seinfeld  who all
had kind of a similar feel  and I just stuck out. They said, "We need one
of you.' " 

Spade's career was launched. In short order he snagged a role in a "Police
Academy" sequel and then scored big on Fox Television's "Joan Rivers
Show," which was a mess and between hosts. The producers were so
smitten with this fresh comedy phenom that they offered him a month-long
guest-host tryout. It was a tremendous opportunity. And Spade said . . .
No, thanks. 

"That was my first lesson in not getting too greedy and not biting off too
much," he says, "because the six minutes I did on that show was my best
six minutes. But to host the show, I had no idea what I was doing. I was,
like, 22. It could have gone the wrong way and hurt me more than helped
me. When I didn't do it, the people at Fox brought me in for meetings,
because they couldn't believe that I would say no to that." 

Spade did believe, however, that he was born for "Saturday Night Live,"
which was entering its 15th season on NBC. In 1990, when Spade was
25, his friend Dennis Miller, for whom he regularly opened on the comedy
tour, persuaded "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels to give the kid
a shot. 

"The hard part about 'SNL' is there's no real communication when you get
there," Spade recalls. "It's not like people are being mean to you, they just
act like you're not there. And I'm so excited that I got hired and we're all
gonna have so much fun, it's such a great show, and you get kind of
chilled. You kind of run around, excited, and you suddenly think, 'Hey,
they're not joining in on the enthusiasm.' " 

In the beginning Spade seldom got air time, and was soon miserable and
depressed. "If something came up in the show where they needed
somebody who looked like Adam Sandler, Sandler would do it. If it
looked like Rob Schneider, Schneider would do it. And if it looked like
me, Dana Carvey would do it." 

Once, in 1992, Spade was elaborately made up as Ross Perot for a
pre-taped presidential debate sketch, while Carvey was done up as
President George Bush. First they taped the wide shots. Spade let himself
believe that he would actually be permitted to play Perot  only to have
Carvey emerge in full costume to say Perot's lines for the close-ups. "I
was home, punching the walls, and you can't help it," Spade recalls. "It
just builds up inside you." 

But Spade ultimately found his voice with the "Hollywood Minute." It was
the voice of a frustrated nobody, eviscerating his betters. "It was a weird
dynamic. I was just going to gun people down. It was going to be a
bloodbath, because that's the only way I was going to get on," he says. 

"When you look at what he did, it was very nervy stuff about Hollywood,"
Michaels recalls. "David had to apologize lots of times to people who had
no fear of calling him up and yelling at him, like Eddie Murphy. David is
not threatening physically ... but he's remarkably strong for a frail guy. And
when he's funny, he can be mean, but it comes from the right place. It
comes from some sort of healthy place." 

The "Minute" became Spade's ticket to "SNL" success, giving him the
chance to present a handful of other signature characters, such as a nastily
officious receptionist and the rude flight attendant. 

Michaels put Spade in the "SNL" spinoff film "Coneheads" and also in the
two movies that showcased Spade and his "SNL" colleague Farley as
kind of a modern-day Laurel and Hardy. "Tommy Boy" came out to good
box office and glowing reviews in 1995, but "Black Sheep" was less well
received in 1996, the year Spade left "SNL" to join the cast of "Just Shoot

The overweight, overindulgent Farley was Spade's best friend. Spade was
so devastated by Farley's death, his mother says, that he couldn't keep
himself together enough to attend the funeral. Spade has been extremely
reluctant to talk about his pal, lest the necessary process of publicity
become a national bereavement tour. 

"I don't want to get that whiff of 'I'm trying to get something out of it,'"
Spade says. "I joked once that we're trying to schedule our next movie
around his heart attack, so sometimes it comes out rough. But I'm always
making fun of myself and my friends. Chris liked it when I made fun of
him. He thought it was funny if I'd rip on him." 

These days, Spade is busy making a fortune from "Just Shoot Me" 
where his contract affords him an unusual degree of creative influence,
allowing him to suggest lines for his character, Dennis Finch, and film at
least one take his way. Meanwhile, he's revising a screenplay for an $8
million movie to be financed by Federal Express CEO Fred Smith, who
recently started a Hollywood production company, Alcon Entertainment.
The movie's premise is that in order for Spade's character, a working stiff,
to date a high-class uptown girl, he must kidnap her dog. 

 Life, for now, seems good, with the caveat that Spade's own dating
experiences  he recently broke up with actress Kristy Swanson, star of
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"  might be as fraught as the one in his movie. 

"The only thing I miss, when all these fun things are going on, is I'd kind of
like someone to hang out with," Spade says. "I wish I had that carefree
lifestyle. But I guess I'm more private, and more inside." 

  Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

A Launch Online Interview By Deborah Russell

Mention the name of comedian David Spade and a few specific terms come to mind: Cocky. Sarcastic. Hilarious.

Afraid would not be one of the words.

And yet this outspoken funny man, revered by fans of Saturday Night Live and known to many as the diminutive sidekick to the larger-than-life Chris Farley, admits he's afraid to open his politically incorrect mouth in these hyper-sensitive times.

"You can go over the line, as long as it's under the guise of a joke," says Spade, who currently stars in the black comedy 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag. "But there is no real guise of a joke anymore. It's so crazy that I'm scared of slipping up, of just doing a joke that makes me laugh."

Spade's experience on SNL taught him that seemingly innocuous jokes could be misconstrued by splinter groups and special interest freaks who accused him of countless crimes against society.

"It's just ridiculous," he says. "My school of thought is 'anything goes,' but I can't do that anymore. I would do 'Hollywood Minute' jokes and one would be about MC Hammer and I would get all these letters about being a racist. People would say, 'How dare you attack Black people!' I mean, OJ can kill people, but if you say, he's guilty, you're a racist because he's Black. You have to dance around so much, and it's so hard."

Spade reflects on his upbringing in an Arizona mining town near the border of Mexico. "The population was 80% Mexicans," Spade says. "They were from Mexico and they were Mexicans. And it wasn't a cutdown to call someone a Mexican. It would kill my career to refer to someone as Mexican today. It's like calling me an American." He feigns shock and dismay. "'WHAAAAT? I'm an EARTHLING!!!'"

The current super-serious climate in American pop culture is affecting other writers and comedians, Spade notes. "It's really hurting comedy and the bigger comedies are getting so watered down. The ones I read are so unoffensive that they're uninteresting."

So Spade is taking matters into his own hands. He's just co-written a script titled Lost And Found, in which he kidnaps a beautiful neighbor's dog in order to be the hero who finally finds the animal. "It's a little dark in parts," he admits. "Of course, she finds out I kidnapped the dog. So I gun her down." (Just a joke, people.)

He says he was attracted to the 8 Heads project--in which he steals all his scenes as a sassy college frat boy (big stretch)--because it had a certain grim humor that appealed to him. But again, "it was a little darker" before the studio got its hands on the product. Some of the most brutal sequences between the gangster character, played by Joe Pesci (another big stretch), and Spade's fellow film frat boy Todd Louiso actually landed on the cutting room floor, much to the actor's dismay.

"There's a whole sequence that builds up to this scene where Todd and I are supposed to screw on broken glass, which they cut off," Spade says. (This is not a joke, people.) "Pesci has been torturing us a while, and then he breaks all this glass on the ground and says, 'Go ahead. Screw your buddy. I want to watch.' And my character goes, 'What? Are you serious?' And he goes, 'Yeah. That's a good way to kill an afternoon.'"

When he saw the movie, Spade reflected on that particular scene. "I guess it just came off as too rough," he admits.

And while the censors and the tact police do their best to protect Spade from himself, he still worries that he'll open his mouth on TV someday and single-handedly end his career with some half-witted statement. "My problem is that when I get nervous, I get looser and I say really stupid stuff," he says. "Like if they would have put me with Mel Gibson at the Oscars, I probably would have said something like 'Hey, dickweed, how's it going?'"

David Spade's Early Years (Entertainment Weekly)

If Just Shoot Me has become this year's underdog hit, David Spade, 33, stands as its unlikely hero. With the possible exception of a swingin'-single Beverly Hills pad, the 5-foot-7 man-boy--a curious cross between preppie smug and cool burnout--doesn't play by the conventional rules of celebrity. He'd rather be grilled about his sexual exploits on Howard Stern's radio show than be coddled on ET. He's the kind of guy who'll personally dial a reporter well past midnight: "How ya doin'? David Spade here! Didn't I meet ya at a Gallagher Tent-'n'-Awning Convention?" Fun includes calling teenage girls who've written him letters inviting him to the prom ("Can't go. I have a bum leg that I cover up on TV with camera tricks"), or (true story) sneaking back into his Scottsdale, Ariz., high school to commandeer the loudspeaker; when the principal tried to cut him off, Spade mock-protested, for all the school to hear, "Let go of me! You shouldn't be drinking.... Put your shirt back on!"

All of which is in keeping with his trademark adolescent snarkiness. What might surprise you is his reputation among his peers; Spade is a comic who commands reverence. "We all do Spade," says SNL pal Chris Rock. "We steal little moves. I'd go to him with a joke I'd been working on for hours, and he'd always come up with a better one in seconds." Notes Segal: "He's so quick--a genius wit with boxer responses." Praises Malick: "He's one of the fastest minds I've been around. You feel honored being the focus of his sarcasm."

Perhaps that gift of sneer is rooted in his rough beginnings. Spade grew up in the small town of Casa Grande ("House Big, Trailer Wide," quips Spade), a bleak copper-mining outpost in Arizona. He was bullied at Little League; one of his two older brothers ran with gangs. At 12, he moved to Scottsdale with his mother and his stepfather, a doctor who committed suicide a few years later. (He's still in touch with his father, an eccentric sales rep whom Spade describes as "a freelance creative type.") "I know Spade is this cutesy little white guy, but he [had] the life of a rapper," chuckles Rock."I mean, I grew up in Bed-Stuy, and I had it better than him."

Typically, Spade makes light of the hard times, preferring material which skewers his own geekdom. "Once I had a girl in my room, and I pulled out my coin collection," he says. "She's like, 'Aren't you going to f - - - me?' and I'm like, 'Lemme just show you this 1916-D Mercury dime.' "

David Spade's Recent Career (ET Weekly) Things started looking shinier after he left Arizona State University in 1985 to pursue stand-up. Although his first forays into TV (The Facts of Life, ALF) and movies (Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol) proved unmemorable, he landed Saturday Night Live in 1990, stealing yuks with the "Buh-Bye" airline guy and the scathing Hollywood Minute. (He was also approached to host a late-night talk show but decided that the format wouldn't suit his talents.) Spade's first big-screen hit was 1995's dumb-buddy comedy Tommy Boy, costarring Chris Farley. They appeared together again in 1996's Black Sheep, and were planning to team up a third time when Farley overdosed last December. "My manager called during rehearsal," Spade remembers. "I hung up the phone and couldn't talk. Air was coming out, but my throat was closed up. I just fell apart and walked off the set.

I called my house and had 33 messages. The first was from a paper in Chicago and I thought, 'Oh, no....' So I dodged it all. I dodged the funeral. My mom was saying 'You have to go,' and I was like, 'Don't make this harder than it is. I know what I'm supposed to do, and I can't do it.' "

Spade has since bounced back, if only out of habit. "I don't like throwing myself in a place that's going to rack my world," he says. "You can either look at things in a brutal, truthful way that's depressing, or you can screw around and have fun."

Of course, Spade's always done things a little differently. When he quit SNL in '96 because of "burnout," he nixed offers to star in his own show. "I would have hired a cast with a guy like me to come in, score laughs, and leave," he reasons, "so why not just be that guy?" His management, Brillstein-Grey, suggested a role on Shoot, which was willing to reshoot its pilot. "David was hesitant," recalls Levitan, "but it was never an issue of 'I want tons of screen time.' It was about 'I wanna be funny.' " Return to Main Page



   Friday, June 05, 1998

   The Fame Game: Spade
   adjusting to the type of celebrity
   status he mocks

   By Mike Weatherford 

        David Spade had a good seat at the Hard Rock Hotel's Rolling Stones
   concert last February, a position he'd like to maintain in the larger sense of
   his career. 
         "I was impressed just that it was a huge perk. Being a `B' celebrity I got
   free tickets and got to sit 4 feet from the Stones," he says. "I was between
   Johnny Depp and (Leonardo) DiCaprio and in front of Brad Pitt. Girls are
   looking at us and I'm like, `It's a package deal, ladies.' " 
         Since then, the comedian's "B" status has come into question -- an issue
   of no little concern. With an HBO special and an NBC sitcom that's getting
   more attention, Spade admits later in a telephone conversation that it's
   getting harder to "fly under the radar" of the DiCaprio level of A-list
         Still, he must try. 
         "You have to go, `How do you lay low but still do your job?' Try to
   keep some shred of dignity without being out there like Jenny McCarthy,
   where after about eight months people go, `OK, we get it! You can open
   your mouth and stick your tongue out!' " 
         The sarcastic comedian is coming back to the Hard Rock Hotel
   Saturday, this time onstage with his stand-up act instead of in the audience.
   The date comes just when he's on the verge of becoming America's favorite
   smart-aleck pipsqueak. 
         His NBC sitcom, "Just Shoot Me," became a bigger commodity this
   year as a temporary member of the network's choice Thursday night
   schedule. More or less by coincidence, April's HBO special, "David Spade:
   Take the Hit" let fans compare and contrast his "real" comic persona from
   the sitcom counterpart. 
         Suddenly Spade -- who came to fame taking potshots at celebrities and
   mocking pop culture on "Saturday Night Live" -- finds his own face on
   magazine covers. 
         "I get freaked out," he admits. "It was funnier when I was just like an
   unknown guy on TV, just an all-American kid takin' people's legs out," he
   says of his "Hollywood Minute" bit. "Then I started doing (the star turn) and
   making a profit off it. Now I'm kind of one of them." 
         Still, even when he dated actress Kristy Swanson (who was "Buffy the
   Vampire Slayer" in the movie that spawned the TV show), neither were so
   famous that they couldn't pass largely unnoticed while wearing Halloween
   costumes to goof on the Kiss concert at the MGM Grand in November
         Now that "Just Shoot Me" has brought Spade "a semi-middle-age
   crowd I didn't have before stopping me in the streets," he's maybe a little
   more sympathetic to the high-stakes world of show business he lampoons. 
         "It's brutal," he says. "I see friends when their shows don't work,
   everything's riding on making money and all the pressure and how people
   scatter" when fortunes turn downward. "It's just such a gross business. I see
   why people get eaten from the inside out. Even when it's going well it's hard
   to deal with." 
         But it's obvious he's spent time thinking about what he can do to steer
   his own career clear of show-business icebergs. "Now that I have the
   opportunities to do a lot I want to do less," he says. 
         He wants to be the guy who's "always around, but never quite the guy in
   the spotlight. People come and go around you but you're never the one
   getting the big stuff. I kind of like that, because 10 years down the road
   (people like that are) still respected, because they never had to do that
   up-and-down thing." 
         Even "Just Shoot Me' reflects that leveled caution. As the twerpy
   personal assistant to women's magazine publisher George Segal, Spade
   flexes his own brand of humor while working in an ensemble format. The
   stories -- and the pressure -- don't revolve around him every week. "It's
   great to tell people you have your own show, but that's where the fun
   stops," he says. 
         These are media-hungry days when celebrity is as fleeting as it is
   calculated, and Spade is trying to stay one step ahead of the game. The
   Arizona native even sounds a little self-conscious that so much of his own
   past made it into the HBO special and more serious forums such as Rolling
   Stone magazine. Though he made comic fodder of a three-times-married
   father who abandoned the 5-year-old and his family, he doesn't plan to
   rehash his childhood woes in interviews. 
         "Nobody wants to read about your ... life, who cares?" he says. "When
   I'm interviewed on (Jay) Leno, just be funny, period. That's all they want
   from me. I don't want to tell my life story, I don't want to talk about
   tragedies" such as the death of comic cohort Chris Farley. "If I try to cover
   too much ground, I think you start to get watered down and less
         But Spade is proud of the HBO special. Doing it meant passing on
   lucrative college gigs, but "it's not a money thing. It's trickier than that," he
   explains. The special is "more like a comedy calling card for the next five
         It's also evidence in case he needs to defend himself after another movie
   like "Black Sheep. 
         The special says, "This is who I am, this is what I think, this is me with
   no direction, no punch-up guys, no studios involved and no editors doing
   stuff that I don't know about," he says. "This is me, what I think is funny,
   and from now on when you see me do `Shoot Me' or any movies and you
   see me do some (bad) line, you'll go, `You know, I bet he didn't think of
   that based on what I saw (on the special).' " 
         Some would argue Spade already has that credibility, since "Saturday
   Night Live" introduced him in his own persona, not as a sketch player. 
         But he says it still took him years to find his stand-up comedy voice. At
   one point, "I changed my act because I wasn't getting booked back" to
   venues, and used more conventional material. Dennis Miller saw the altered
   show and confronted him about it. 
         "Don't go to them, make them come to you." Miller advised him. "If you
   just do what makes you laugh and your friends laugh, then you're cool. And
   if it doesn't work, get out of the business because you're not funny." Miller's
   final advice: "The payoff's bigger if you do it on your own terms." 
         Spade still isn't sure if he's ready to join Miller in a regular Las Vegas
   showroom rotation. But he likes hanging out here, playing golf and taking in
   shows on the Strip -- "It's just a campy blast," he says. He'll just take it one
   step at a time. 
         "I just want to do as little as I can and make it good, and try not to sell
   out," he says. "I'm sure I will, but I'm just trying to postpone it." 

              NBC's "Just Shoot Me," IS ENJOYING
                PLAYING HIMSELF.

                      by Thomas Johnson and David Fantle

Comic actor David Spade reminds us of that old Charles Atlas
body-building ad buried in the back pages of 10-cent comic books;
the one where a beach bully kicks sand in the face of a guy with a
stringbean physique and otherwise emasculates him in front of his dishy

"I want to get back to my fighting weight of 98 pounds," Spade 
deadpans, ordering a diet tuna plate from Jerry's Famous Deli in Los
Angeles. "I have the exact measurements of that guy from the
movie 'Powder.' I wanted to watch that movie to see him get his butt kicked.
But 30 minutes into the flick, I'm yelling, 'Powder, they're tricking
you--he's hiding in the locker!' I cried 10 times during the movie because,
growing up, I was Powder. Right now I am the reigning West Coast Powder."  

At Jerry's, famous for being the real life meeting place of the Seinfeld
gang during breaks in filming their show, Spade is dressed casually in
jeans and is wearing a bubble-back Rolex watch and a faded T-shirt
that is far from taut on his hollow frame. In fact, the shirt seems to
flutter a little each time a breeze is kicked up by a bustling waiter. The
waiters here bustle a lot.  

"My goal in life is to be a wussy like Barney Fife on the 'Andy Griffith
Show,'" Spade says. "He was a kind of fake tough guy, but deep
down, he was a wimp."  

Spade may be on to something. His comic persona in movies like
"Black Sheep" and "Tommy Boy," and on his hit NBC show, "Just
Shoot Me," really is a cross between Don Knotts minus the
herky-jerky nervousness and, perhaps, Wally Cox, absent the bow tie
and horn-rim glasses.  

Indeed, Spade's stock-in-trade is an acerbic thrust and parry that is as
prickly as the Saguaro Cactus that populate his home state of Arizona.
It is just such interplay with his sometime movie partner, the late Chris
Farley (this interview took place just prior to Farley's death), that
vaulted Spade into the comedy big leagues after years as a cast
member on "Saturday Night Live."  

In the pantheon of comedy duos, the Spade-Farley match-up owes a
debt to Laurel and Hardy. However, in Spade's case, it's he--the thin
guy--who played comic foil and straight man to the heavier, more
animated Farley.  

Spade did say that Farley's weight was a cause of concern and cited
John Candy's death from a heart attack a few years ago as probably
stemming from obesity.  
"It's not totally my business," he says. "When I'm with Chris he doesn't
 want to hear anything from me. He used to drink and I was the
'concerned friend' for about three years."  

In a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Spade broke his silence since
the death of Farley and offered his own explanation of why he did not
attend his friend's funeral in Madison, Wisconsin. "I just couldn't have
gone in a room where Chris was in a box." Spade added that the last
months with Farley "were all good. He wasn't high. He wasn't
drinking. It was all Diet Cokes and laughing."  

Lorne Michaels, the producer of "SNL," once told Spade that most
cast members think they're famous after one year on the show, but it
really takes about three years before acclaim begins to "seep into the
public consciousness." For Spade, the show's "Hollywood Minute"
and "Receptionist" sketches were his first attempts at winning that
wider fame. The movies with Farley solidified his status as comic

  Now, with "Just Shoot Me," once a mid-season replacement, picked up 
for another season and moved to the venerable
Thursday night lineup in place of "Union
Square" after posting the highest ratings for
the timeslot ever back in January, Spade is on
a hot streak. And have we mentioned his HBO comedy hour, "David
Spade: Take the Hit," premiering on April 17 at 11:30 p.m. (ET)? It's
his first for the cable network. As for "Just Shoot Me," the show takes
place at a fashion magazine and co-stars Laura San Giacomo and
George Segal.  

"There were two roles I told the producers I wouldn't play in the
show," he says. "One was an assistant and the other was a secretary.
As the designated office manager, I wield more comic power--the
staplers all have to come through me. I'm like a Dilbert cartoon.  

"The odd thing was that when we were taping the first episodes, I had
a steady girlfriend and out of loyalty I didn't get one number or ask
one cast member out; and this cast has some gorgeous members," he
says. "The set was really fun, but it's like having copies of Playboy all
over your apartment. You shouldn't look at them, but you do and that
just leads to trouble. It's tough when the girls come up to you just
before a scene and ask you how their butt looks in a skirt that fits
tighter than Saran Wrap around a pot roast!"  

Spade, who is now single, finds himself a big fish in a small pond by
calling Scottsdale, Arizona his home. "It's a big deal there because
other than Governor Symington, who's just been indicted for
corruption, I'm the only celebrity there now that Charles Barkley has
left the Phoenix Suns," he says.  

Truth to tell, worshipful hordes hardly beat a path to Spade's door.
Instead, he gets a lot of "drive-bys" from 14-year-old girls on bicycles;
part of a demographic that makes up his prime movie audience. "One
little girl even knocked on my door and gave me a cake she had
baked," he says.  

According to Spade, the real hard cases are the teenage boys who
make up the opposite side of that movie-going demographic. "As boys
get older, they can't let on that it's cool to meet me," Spade laughs.
"My mom brought a bunch of them to my door once and they wanted
to fight me! She said they were just nervous. My take was that they
were part of the Scottsdale Crip franchise!"  

There's an old Hollywood axiom that, roughly translated, says: if you
get them when they're young, they'll be fans for life. By that reckoning,
Spade could put on some real weight very soon in his journey to
becoming a much bigger fish.  

"Just so long as I don't become a piranha," he says.  

David Fantle and Thomas Johnson's syndicated entertainment
column, "Reel to Real," currently runs in more than 25
publications throughout the country.