Known best for his work on Saturday Night Live, as well as for his collaboration with Chris Farley, David Spade is no stranger for anyone who enjoys comedy. His trademark sarcasm and dry wit aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those who love it, love him. How did Spade rise through the ranks to get to where he is today? Read on to find out more about the humble beginnings and tragic losses he has overcome on his path to fame and fortune.
1. He Was One Of The Boys
David Wayne Spade was born in 1964, in Michigan. The youngest of three siblings, his mother, Judith was a writer and magazine editor, while his father, Wayne was a sales representative. His parents divorced after moving to Arizona, when he was just four, and his mom raised him and his brothers.
2. They Had A Killer Pastime
Spade was no stranger to shooting even before he became a star—only this was with guns, not cameras! Growing up in Scottsdale, AZ, Spade and his brothers had their own firearms. Since mom was busy working to make ends meet, she’d drop the boys at one end of the desert with bagged lunches, a first aid kit, and their guns. They’d fire at cacti, birds, and roadrunners—but this wasn’t the only violent hobby they had…
3. They Kept Strange Pets
Apart from using their guns, the Spade brothers also enjoyed a hobby worthy of David’s Joe Dirt character. They’d often use tennis rackets to trap rattlesnakes so they could keep them as pets! Boy am I glad I didn’t know them as kids.
4. He’s A Smart Cookie
His unusual hobbies did not prevent Spade from being one of the smartest kids in school, though. He was Spelling Bee champ, member of the School Chess Club who made it to State Finals, and a member of Mensa. Spade even read 47 books for a contest once.
5. He Found His Path
David Spade discovered his funny side in high school when he “quit being smart and started having friends.” He graduated from Arizona State University with a business degree, but doing standup at the school’s sketch comedy show, “Farce Side Comedy Hour,” showed him the path he truly wanted to take after graduation.
6. He Was Odd Job Man
He may be a comedian-writer-actor now, but there was a time when Spade worked as a busboy, a valet-parking attendant, and as an employee at a skateboard shop!
7. He Took His Time To Break Out
David Spade was committed to making it in comedy once he’d graduated. He relocated to Los Angeles and performed standup wherever he could: Nightclubs and college campuses. “When I started, I’d fly across the country to do a gig for a hundred bucks.” The persistence paid off. An agent saw him performing at a show and cast him in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.
8. He Got Screwed
Sometimes you just have a run of bad luck. Although Police Academy 4 didn’t do too well at the box office, David Spade got $6,000 out of it, which he spent on a “crappy Honda Accord.” Unfortunately, the car got stolen only an hour after he’d bought it! Not one to quit, Spade borrowed $6,000 from his friend Bobcat Goldthwait and bought another Accord, just as “crappy” as the last.
9. He Got His Big Break
Spade’s big break came in 1989, when he was showcased on HBO on their 13th Annual Young Comedian’s Show. It was being hosted by Dennis Miller, and the two men clearly hit it off. Miller was the one who helped Spade get onto Saturday Night Live. Spade had loved watching the show as a teenager, and it would go on to help him become a household name.
10. The Sketch That Saved Him
David Spade only made three appearances in the first season he was there, with much of what he wrote making its way to Dana Carvey. It was a bad sign, and Spade knew his days were numbered—so he came up with a plan. Producers began to plot to fire him, feeling that he wasn’t doing enough work to be considered indispensable—so he came up with the “Hollywood Minute” sketch.
It became hugely popular with the viewers, who enjoyed watching Spade play a fast-talking Hollywood reporter roasting other stars and films.
11. He’s Unforgettable
Spade’s sarcastic humor and dry wit won him many fans, and his sketches featuring himself as an unpleasant flight attendant, and a receptionist for Dennis Clark were as popular as “Hollywood Minute.” In fact, Spade says that even now he gets to hear at least one person say “buh-bye” to him everyday like his flight attendant character did in SNL.
12. Murphy’s Law
However, comedy can also have polarizing effects when some people don’t find you funny at all—and Spade has managed to make quite a few enemies during his career. Most famously, Eddie Murphy got really riled up when Spade called him a “falling star” in his “Hollywood Minute” sketch. In fact, he was so offended that he didn’t speak to Spade for 20 years!
13. They Were A Dynamic Duo
Spade formed many long-lasting friendships with his SNL co-stars, but it was Chris Farley who became his closest friend and collaborator. The two spent so much time together they joked about being like an “old married couple.” After noticing their chemistry on SNL, producer Lorne Michaels came up with the idea of casting the two together on the big screen. After that, there was no looking back…
14. They Took A While To Warm Up
David Spade and Chris Farley made their debut on the big screen with Tommy Boy. The movie did well enough commercially, though it wasn’t a success with the critics. It has, since then, become a cult classic, and people love the pairing of Farley and Spade. The two actors were able to recreate the magic of SNL by some of their gags and routines, the most famous of which was the “fat guy in little coat” scene.
15. It Was An Old Gag With A New Audience
The “fat guy in a little coat” scene originated from SNL days, when the two shared an office. Farley would try and distract Spade from writing by putting on his jacket and goofing around. The gag cost Spade quite a few jackets, but it also went on to become one of the best-loved and most-laughed-at scenes in the movie.
Spade reminisced: “It was stuff in Tommy Boy that was funny to us that we just hoped was funny to other people.”
16. There Were Ups And Downs
Despite their onscreen chemistry and offscreen friendship, working together wasn’t always fun and games for Spade and Farley. The two had their share of arguments and fights, with one huge one being on the sets of Tommy Boy, when Farley felt Spade was chumming up to Rob Lowe and excluding him completely. But there was another, steamier reason that resulted in a sad falling out between the two men.
17. It Was A Dark Time
Farley and Spade were feuding on the sets of their next movie, Black Sheep. The reason: A woman. According to Spade, they had both dated Lorri Bagley (who had worked with them on Tommy Boy) at some point, and that was the source of tension between them. They were able to move past it, but Spade was still worried about the future of his friendship with Farley…
18. He Had His Heart Broken
Soon after the release of Black Sheep, tragedy struck—leaving Spade absolutely devastated. Chris Farley passed on of an overdose at just 33. They had been on top of the world, with another movie in the works. The tragedy left everyone reeling, but while his fellow cast and crew members from SNL went to his funeral to pay their tributes to him, Spade was conspicuously absent.
Fans thought he didn’t go because of a falling out, but the real reason was much more moving…
19. He Couldn’t Take It
Spade later revealed that he did not go to Farley’s funeral because he was unable to imagine his friend and companion of many years “in a box.” He felt he could not take it and would have broken down completely. Spade has also confessed that he thinks of Farley all the time. Sigh, time to bring out the tissues.
20. He Likes To Work Collaboratively
After the passing of Chris Farley, Spade made his way back to TV screens, starring in a sitcom that ran for seven years. Although he had been offered opportunities to star in his own TV show, he turned those down to become part of the ensemble cast on Just Shoot Me. He played the role of Dennis Finch, the sarcastic and sleazy assistant of the owner of a fashion magazine.
21. His Efforts Paid Off
Turns out Spade had chosen wisely. Just Shoot Me had great ratings on NBC and in its fourth season, it earned became one of its top-rated shows for the Tuesday night slot. Spade himself was nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for his role on the series.
22. He Got Back In The Groove
David Spade shared another stage with Wendie Malick, his co-star from Just Shoot Me. Both voiced characters in Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove in the year 2000. Spade voiced the character of Kuzco, the emperor-turned-llama in the movie, and the animators drew inspiration from him when they saw him performing his parts at recording sessions.
23. He’s A Ladies Man
You might not know it, but David Spade has been quite a ladies’ man throughout his career. He has dated several women but hasn’t come close to a serious commitment so far! “I feel like I’ve got this anti-marriage [reputation], but it’s less that and more I’m overthinking it to get it right.” Clearly, he hasn’t stopped overthinking it yet!
24. There’s Bad Blood
Spade was dating screen vixen Lara Flynn Boyle when she was accosted by Jack Nicholson—who then asked her out right in front of Spade. Boyle’s reaction was chilling. Not only did she get mad at Spade for not telling Nicholson to back off, she then went on to secretly date the older star behind Spade’s back. Ouch.
25. The Cat’s Outta the Bag
Spade found out about the relationship in a heartbreaking way. It happened when The National Enquirer called him for his take on the budding romance between Jack Nicholson and Lara Flynn Boyle. That was the end of him and Boyle, though the latter did keep dating Nicholson for a few years after that. Was this one of the reasons he became anti-commitment? Your guess is as good as ours…
26. He Has A Type
Another of Spade’s famous girlfriends has been Jillian Grace, an ex-model for Playboy magazine. The couple only dated for a few months in 2007, which in itself wouldn’t have been memorable…if it hadn’t resulted in something life-changing for both of them.
27. He’s Got A Daughter
In August 2008, David Spade became father to a little girl, Harper. She lives with mom, Jillian Grace, in St. Louis, Missouri, but meets her dad quite often. Spade may not have planned things to work out this way, but he is a loving father and enjoys spending time with his daughter.
28. He’s Got Friends In High Places
One of Spade’s first friends in the business was Ellen DeGeneres. Funnily, he thought she was asking him over for a date when she invited him to her house. They have joked about this several times on her show since then, after she came out publicly. He even posted a birthday wish on Facebook saying he’d had a crush on her until he got “the news.”
29. He Could’ve Been On A Hit Show
David Spade was almost cast on Full House. In his memoir, Almost Interesting, Spade claimed that he had been approached for the role of Uncle Joey. While it’s hard to imagine anyone but Dave Coulier in that role now, who knows what quirks Joey would have had if Spade had ended up playing him!
30. He’s Taken Trips Down the Memory Lane
Speaking of memoirs, Spade has written two. Almost Interesting talks about his early life, time in SNL, and his many girlfriends, among other things. The book has mainly favorable reviews, with readers especially enjoying the behind-the-scenes SNL stories. His other, more recent book went straight to audio, and is called A Polaroid Guy in a Snapchat World.
It’s mostly about being the older guy in the business and trying to keep up with the new world, and has mixed reviews, with people who enjoy his brand of humor loving it, and others finding it crass and unlikeable.
31. They’re Miles Apart
Spade’s experience of dating younger women has been interesting, to say the least. He’s said that he and the girls he dates are often struck by the other’s cluelessness—him, because they don’t know classic rock ‘n roll; whereas they’re shocked because he’s so unaware of technology! He recounted a date on The Ellen Show in which his date was amazed his (older) car didn’t have an aux chord…and that he didn’t even know what one was!
A word of unsolicited advice, how about dating women close to your age David?
32. He Got Confused
When Spade was invited to Ellen’s 60th birthday party he was happy to show up for his friend…but then he completely ignored her, all for a hilarious reason. Spade later revealed to Ellen that he was so high, he thought that she was Justin Bieber.
33. He Got To Stay
David Spade made a guest appearance on 8 Simple Rules after the sudden, unexpected passing of John Ritter. He was playing Katey Sagal’s (Ritter’s widow on the show) good-for-nothing nephew, who comes out of the woodwork after his uncle’s passing. After he’d done his three requisite episodes though, the channel decided they wanted him to stay on.
34. He’s Typecast
Spade is clearly often considered for a certain type of character. Rules of Engagement was the third sitcom he acted in. On the show, he played (surprise surprise!) a sleazy, womanizing, incompetent character. He was, however, part of the main cast and appeared in all 100 episodes. The series got reasonably good ratings, but was canceled after its seventh season.
35. He Transitioned To The Big Screen
Even after losing his favorite co-star, Spade did go on to star in some movies after Farley’s untimely passing. His solo ventures, Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star were both modestly successful. But he finally saw big box office success when former SNL castmate, Adam Sandler, cast him in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2. In fact, Grown Ups did so well that Sandler bought all four of his co-stars (Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and Rob Schneider) each a Maserati to show his appreciation!
36. He Got A Taste Of His Own Medicine
You can’t win with teenagers these days—and Spade learned the hard way. He posed for a picture with Danielle Bregoli (AKA Bhad Bhabie) and posted it on Instagram, with the joking caption that it was too bad that she’d “stopped being famous five minutes before the picture was taken.” Bregoli reposted the picture with his caption intact, saying she’d thought he was the waiter! Oops!
37. His Mom Came To The Rescue
When Spade started his career in standup, he was basically broke. He needed some props for his routine though, so he collected whatever he could use from his mom, put it in an old blue suitcase she had, and set off to the comedy club. That’s improv at its best.
38. He Got Catfished…Kinda
If you live under a rock like me, you may not know what being catfished is. Basically, it means being deceived or led on over a social media platform. Spade did a sketch on Funny or Die showing himself being catfished. Was it inspired from true events? Maybe we’ll find out in his next memoir!
39. He Asked For Permission To Bash
David Spade must have been a huge Def Leppard fan because he actually asked them for their permission to let a character in Joe Dirt say “Def Leppard sucks!” He even explained that it was the bad guy who was saying it, as the good guy was a fan of their music. The band had no problem being insulted, so it all worked out.
40. He Was Not An Obama Fan
On the other hand, his opinion of the former POTUS was not very flattering. Spade has called Obama “too thirsty for attention.” This was after Obama appeared on the cover of GQ and Spade weighed in, saying that he thought the president should have “more dignity.”
41. He’s Pretty Critical
It wasn’t the first time Spade criticized Obama for being attention-seeking. He had previously tweeted his disbelief that the then POTUS was on Bear Grylls’ reality show, trying to brave the tundra. He also did not seem to appreciate the frequent appearances by Michelle Obama on The Ellen Show.
42. He Was The Face Of A Joke
Fans of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain were extremely confused when a picture of a mural began making the rounds on social media. The mural was of Spade, but the words written above it were from a line (wrongly) attributed to Cobain: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” The line was followed by the words, “Kurt Cobain R.I.P.” Pretty funny!
43. He Blindsided Fans
Spade has always been famously fussy about his hair, even refusing to let stylists touch it for Tommy Boy. That’s why viewers were shocked when his Netflix comedy The Wrong Missy came out. In it, he sports a shorter cut meant to make him look like a huge dork—which fits perfectly for his uptight, corporate shill character.
44. He Made A Comeback
He did The Showbiz Show with David Spade on Comedy Central for three seasons until 2007, when it got canceled. The producers weren’t too keen on it, and Spade said he lost interest too when it was treated so casually. However, his constant jokes and short videos kept going viral on social media, which brought him back on the radar of the channel. They wound up asking him to do another show poking fun on pop culture, which started airing in 2019, called Lights Out with David Spade.
45. He Was In The Dark
Unfortunately, Lights Out got canceled in 2020. Comedy Central will shop the show to other channels and networks but in the meantime, an online version of it, which Spade has been doing from his home, will continue to air. Spade never saw the show as something his career depended on, which is a good thing. He said: “It’s not my first job and it’s not my last job.”
46. He Made A Deal With The Devil
The lengths you go to for your craft. Spade once wanted to interview Sean Penn for his sketch “Spade in America” on SNL. Penn agreed on one bizarre condition: Spade had to get a tattoo from him. The latter was game and asked for a Calvin image (from Calvin and Hobbes). Sure enough, they went through with it, with Spade only once letting Penn know, in a stage whisper, that he was hurting him.
Decades later, Penn tattooed Spade yet again. This time, it was with the initials “CF,” for Chris Farley.
47. They Piled On
The aftermath of the tragic loss of Chris Farley was utterly chilling—particularly for Spade. Many targeted Spade with derisive comments. He says that even now, he still gets some hate comments on social media, a lot of them wishing he’d been the one to go instead of Farley. He accepts that this happens mostly because people don’t like his solo work, and he has learned to live with it.
48. He Turned On Him
Just after the success of his first Disney film in 2000, David Spade was the victim of a terrifying attack—and in his own home, no less. He was sleeping one night when his assistant, David Warren Malloy (AKA Skippy) suddenly attacked him with a stun gun. Spade ran for cover in the bathroom, grabbing a shotgun along the way. Ultimately, law enforcement apprehended Malloy after the incident.
He pled guilty and a judge asked him to stay 100 yards away from Spade at all times. The judge also tasked him with 500 hours of community service.
49. Tragedy Hits Close To Home
Spade lost his best friend Chris Farley at a young age—but he was no stranger to loss and pain. His stepfather took his own life when Spade was 15. Recently, another sad loss hit his family. Kate Spade, wife of his older brother Andy, also died by suicide in 2018. The event was extremely traumatic for the entire Spade family.
Kate Spade had been struggling against depression and anxiety. In her honor, David Spade donated $100,000 to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness
50. They Didn’t Work Out
One of Spade’s latest girlfriends met a dark and tragic fate. The tabloids had spotted Spade with Glee star Naya Rivera, but they didn’t have a happy ending. Paparazzi spotted Spade sharing a steamy kiss with some other woman quite publicly, which confirmed that he had moved on from Riviera after around two months of dating. In July 2020, Rivera passed on at the age of 33.