Dey Street Books/Harper Collins
It’s an odd little book this, it almost works – or rather when it works it works well. Of course saying almost works and when it works it works well is not just platitudinous here, it could also describe David Spade, his work, his career…
I applaud the lack of ego (240 pages) and there are some very good stories – particularly the meat of the book about SNL. But to get there we have to drift past thin-skim sob-stories about his sexual failings and fantasies; painful, frat-boy humour – which, again, is Spade. Or was Spade. That was what he did – and so we hear about his years working hard on the stand-up circuit before getting that big chance as writer/performer on Saturday Night Live.
Here, finally, the book gets going – and Spade is generous with the anecdotes, he ditches (for the most part) his painful non-joke of writing smug one-liners or explanations in parenthesis and focuses on that important, influential show; focuses too on the pressure-cooker situation, his failings, his flailings, the feeling he had – for most of the first five years of his run – that he would be canned at any moment.
Then we get to Chris Farley. And to the stories of their comedy pairing, the movies, the bond, his dedication to the straight-man role was as much about standing back and letting Hurricane Farley through as it was any careful planning.
The best story could have been about Eddie Murphy not talking to Spade for 20 years after being stung by the Hollywood Moment sketch (incidentally the one where Spade finally found his voice – as writer and performer) but that’s already been shared about before the book was released. It’s a good yarn – even in Spade’s clumsier sentences, it’s still an interesting story.
And then the book just ends – post-SNL with hardly a mention of his TV work. I mean fair enough – keep quiet about 8 Simple Rules and Rules of Engagement but Just Shoot Me deserved some stories, surely? Apparently not.
This is not a great book – just as Spade could never be remembered as anything crucial in comedy – but he had some lines, some moments, and was there supporting some of the great players of the early 90s. And so, in a similar way, this book has its moments. Has its reasons to exist. And it’s an easy read. Very easy.