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David Spade had an embarrassing moment earlier this week.
The comedian and Saturday Night Live veteran shared the anecdote at the beginning of an interview with Postmedia after being asked the obligatory small-talk opener “How are you?”
Apparently, he is sore. Spade was in a bar watching the football game in Los Angeles on Monday when the mishap occurred.
“I took a step and I fell into a bunch of tables,” Spade says. “Literally, it was the loudest, most gnarly fall and I’m sore today but it’s more just embarrassing. It wasn’t even about booze. It was an extra six-inch drop-off. Have you ever done that, where there’s a step and you don’t know it? I was watching the TV and I fell forward through everything: Straight up in the air, hit a table, the table fell, the chairs fell on top of me. It was all steel chairs. So I’m just a little beat up because I’m such a precious dandelion.”
Unlike his friend, the late Chris Farley, Spade’s stock-in-trade is not slapstick comedy per se. While his most famous SNL skit and sitcom characters tended to be experts at doling out sarcasm-drenched insults, his stand-up act leans more towards self-deprecating humour. So it’s not much of a stretch to imagine some form of this tale making it into a future routine. It just might take a while.
Spade likes to work out and polish his material well ahead of time. When he performs on Nov. 4 at the Jubilee Auditorium for the annual Owen Hart Foundation fundraiser, he isn’t likely to tailor his set for a Calgary audience.
“I try not to because it’s too complicated,” he says. “I definitely, when I get to the city, bop around and see if I can throw in any initial thoughts at the beginning or somewhere. But it’s hard to change the bulk of the material because it takes so long to get it to work. After my last special, you have to pretty much start from scratch. I mean there is some overlap. But when you do that, I owe them a show for what they are paying and I don’t want to go just goof around for 45 minutes or an hour … and have them disappointed that it wasn’t funny enough. It’s a fine line between ‘Hey I wrote all this stuff about your town …’ But if it doesn’t work, then it’s not tried-and-true.”
Spade was in the midst of a tour when he was called to do the Owen Hart Foundation fundraiser. So he has certainly developed new material since his very funny 2022 Netflix special, Nothing Personal. As with many comedians, Spade tends to base much of his routine around his past or current day-to-day life. But given that he has now spent nearly 35 years in the often surreal, stranger-than-fiction world of entertainment, it’s hard to imagine his life doesn’t routinely offer sturdy material for stand-up.
Since he first gained fame as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live in 1990, he has gone on to star in hit movies such as Tommy Boy and several successful sitcoms while continuing his stand-up career. He has dabbled in reality TV by hosting episodes of Bachelor in Paradise and has done voice-over work for animated films. He has occasionally been tabloid fodder as he has dated a number of high-profile actresses such as Heather Locklear, Lara Flynn Boyle and Naya Riviera. (In 2017, E! News called him the “Comedy Casanova.”) He currently co-hosts the podcast called Fly on the Wall with fellow former SNLer Dana Carvey. His most recent project is hosting Snake Oil, a game show that airs on CTV in Canada and has contestants and celebrity advisors trying to determine whether business pitches are legitimate or phoney. The first season featured guests such as Rob Riggle, Ice-T, Adam Devine, country singer Brad Paisley and Canadian actor-comedian Will Arnett, who is also an executive producer on the series.
As host, Spade is not told ahead of time what products are fake and what products are real.
“I said ‘I’m not really a host. I’m not a game-show guy,’” he says. “But I liked the idea of it, where there are two products and one is fake. It’s very hard to guess. That part was cool. It drives people crazy because they are usually so dumb, it’s hard to figure. But some of them are really good and they’re fake. Who would have thought of that? Is that us? Because that should be a product. But it was fun. Will is a fun guy and the shows get chopped down so much that some of the jokes I do go away but overall it’s a fun show to do.”
Whatever successes may follow, Spade will likely forever be associated with SNL. He left in 1996 but says he is still asked about his time on the iconic late-night series on a near daily basis. This explains why Fly on the Wall has become such a hit as he trades stories with Carvey and various celebrity guests. While he is not surprised at the public’s continued fascination with SNL stories, he admits he doesn’t always know which anecdotes are going to resonate with fans and the press. In August, he told a story about receiving a phone call from David Bowie back in 1991 when the singer appeared on SNL as the musical guest as part of the band Tin Machine. Spade had written the first sketch featuring a smug receptionist at Dick Clark Productions who refuses to let anyone through to see his boss. The character would become a fan favourite of Spade’s, but Bowie wanted to play the role himself rather than appear as himself as Spade had written. Spade turned him down.
When he told the story on the podcast this summer, it made headlines in several media outlets including The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly.
“We do an hour podcast and we have interesting people and there are so many different stories being told that sometimes the ones they pluck out, I guess someone just listens to them and finds something interesting to write about,” Spade says. “With that one, I guess it jumps out because it’s David Bowie and I got to interact with him in an interesting way that wasn’t a typical way. Those kinds of things are just woven into the stories we all have and one jumps out and people say ‘I like that. That’s interesting’ and it spreads around. But I can’t predict it.”
The Owen Hart Foundation presents an Evening With David Spade at the Jubilee Auditorium Nov. 4 at 8 p.m.