DAVID SPADE Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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BORN in Michigan, David Spade moved to what he considers his real home, Scottsdale, Arizona - a sizable desert burgh that promotes itself as “The West’s Most Western Town” - at the age of 4. The slight, blond comedian, who would one day mine laughs by skewering his own diminutive physique ("I want to get back to my fighting weight of 98 pounds…"), recalls keeping a twice-weekly appointment to be beaten up by the other kids at elementary school, and being far better at his studies than he was at making friends. By the time he entered high school, however, the impish youth had renounced his books in favor of camaraderie - and comedy.


Despite his “Cowboys and Indians” surroundings, Spade found a wellspring of comic inspiration in the “Live from New York” urban humor of Saturday Night Live, and admits that, as a youngster, he shamelessly copped material from the show to pad his performances in talent shows - looking back, Spade remembers the pirated bits going over far better than his own original material. Post-high school, he gave business courses at a community college a try before dropping out to work in a skateboard shop and perform the occasional stand-up gig. After his stepfather committed suicide and his best friend died in a motorcycle accident in quick succession, Spade, sensing his own fleeting mortality in the face of the tragedies, realized that he needed to start taking his comedy more seriously - before it was too late.


Spurred into action, he relocated to Los Angeles, and soon hit the road to tour the U.S., performing in nightclubs and on the college circuit. During a gig at the renowned Improv in L.A., Spade caught the eye of an agent who subsequently cast him alongside low-rent comedic players Steve Guttenberg and Bobcat Goldthwait in the supporting role of a skateboarder in the painfully bad feature film Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Also paying dues in the doltish effort was future mega-star Sharon Stone. The next couple of years saw Spade’s star rise slowly through a succession of guest shots on TV shows as disparate as The Facts of Life and Baywatch. His biggest career boost came in 1989, when he was one of six comics showcased on HBO’s 13th Annual Young Comedians Show, hosted by Dennis Miller, who was then anchoring the popular Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update.” The veteran comic gleaned the rookie’s potential, and lent him another hand up in the business by helping him secure an audition for S.N.L. Spade’s tryout was a success, and he was signed to the show as a writer and performer in April 1990.


That first season of Saturday Night Live witnessed Spade paying more dues and learning to survive the notoriously competitive environment engendered by the cast. He only appeared on-camera three times that year. Off-camera, he shared an office with fellow “Not Ready for Prime Time” neophyte Chris Farley, and the two funnymen rapidly became close friends. When they appeared together in sketches, their chemistry was as readily apparent as the contrast between Spade’s whippet-thin body and Farley’s impressive bulk. Finally noticed by audiences and producers alike, the duo began to assume more central roles on the series. Despite the success of the bit, Spade grew more and more uncomfortable delivering his brutally snide putdowns as he began to assume the mantle of celebrity himself. During the 1995-96 season - his last on the venerable show - his reports, by then called “Spade in America,” encompassed wider-ranging commentary and were delivered in a somewhat kinder, gentler tone. Somewhat.


During breaks from the S.N.L. grind, Spade kept himself occupied filming small movie roles: a minor turn in the well-received addiction drama Light Sleeper; a blessedly small assignment in the lame-brain Coneheads; and a minute appearance in PCU, a nineties rehash of Animal House. None of these efforts exactly packed them in, and Spade’s name remained way down in the credits - considering the quality of the films, not such a
  bad thing. Finally, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels hit upon the sure-fire idea of pairing Spade with Farley on the big screen, capitalizing on that ever-reliable buddy-comedy formula Spade bluntly calls “the age-old secret of fatty and skinny.” Michaels produced 1995’s Tommy Boy as a vehicle for Farley, with a second-billed Spade serving straightman duty. Though the flick received slim praise from critics, it did beefy biz at the box office.


By 1996, an exhausted Spade was publicly commenting on the physical strains of his busy schedule. In that year, in addition to finishing out
  his S.N.L. contract, he again teamed with Farley, for Black Sheep; provided vocal talent for Beavis & Butt-Head Do America; and made a cameo appearance in A Very Brady Sequel. Leading a bi-coastal existence, Spade maintained residences in New York, Los Angeles, and Phoenix - all furnished with the softest beds he could find to ease his stress-related neck pain. Ultimately, it was the pressure of turning out week after week of sketch comedy, he says, and not a desire to be a movie star, that eventually expedited his departure from the show.


While performing in a weekly sitcom might not seem the most relaxing endeavor in the world, Spade saw signing on to NBC’s Just Shoot Me as a veritable vacation with a paycheck in comparison to the six years of non-stop work he had just completed. The show, which premiered in 1997
  as a mid-season replacement, ostensibly features Laura San Giacomo as the star apparent of the ensemble cast, but, from the moment the series hit the airwaves, it was referred to as “that David Spade show.” Never mind that Spade says his gig on the series is the “last role I ever wanted to do,” because it further identifies him with the power-crazed, wiseass assistant persona: his role as Dennis Finch fits him like a well-worn glove.


An otherwise positive year, 1997 ended on a tragic note, when Chris Farley died of a drug overdose. Though the news couldn’t have come as a total surprise to those who knew of Farley’s excessive consumption of food, alcohol, and controlled substances, the comic’s untimely demise
  was still devastating for Spade, who was so distraught that he couldn’t bring himself to attend to the funeral. In an article he later wrote for
  Rolling Stone, he explained: “I just couldn’t have gone into a room where Chris was in a box.”


As for recent work on the big screen, Spade appeared in a supporting capacity in the woeful 1997 Joe Pesci vehicle Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag, and then unleashed his sneering charm in the sophomoric Marlon Wayans comedy Senseless. Released in February - a month when studios traditionally dump films so bad they’d rather no one see them at all -the latter effort had Spade acting as foil to Wayans’ hapless college student, whose senses have been artificially enhanced by an experimental drug. Audiences were treated to Spade’s theretofore untapped abilities as a romantic lead with the 1999 release of his pet project, Lost & Found. He has supplied voice talent for two animated films: The Rugrats Movie (released in 1998); and Disney’s millenium release Kingdom of the Sun, which will attempt to do for Inca mythology what Pocahontas did for American history.