David Spade, with a unique on screen hairdo and dry sense of humor, takes a bat and ball, of sorts, for the irreverent family comedy Benchwarmers. He talked to Paul Fischer.
Question: It seems that this is a character you were born to play.
Spade: Really? I’ve never played anything else. Actually, this one I’m kind of different but it’s basically always the same. Let’s be honest.
Question: Well this guy doesn’t always have a quick insult.
Spade: No, thank you. See, I’ve got a lot of range. I play that guy and the other guy.
Question: Did you have input into the hairdo?
Spade: I did. I just did Saturday Night Live right before we shot this and I was trying to get ideas because there’s only so much I can do with my hair. It’s either shorter or longer. They can’t do much. I was going to dye it and I just thought- – I saw a bowl cut wig on Saturday Night Live and I go, ‘Ooh, and juicy, I like that one.’ It looked so dumb so we tried to recreate that. Then I walked out of the trailer, I saw Rob, I saw Adam Sandler and I think Dynamite was there too. I was like, ‘Hey look.’ And they were like [laughing]. And so I’m like, ‘Okay, well, it’s funny.’
Question: And the half moustache?
Spade: Oh, my little porn one? I just thought like ’70s porn, what does it look like? I see these guys, they shave the top part. Actually, Sean Penn does that too.
Question: Jon Heder said something about that too.
Spade: [imitates Heder] ‘Who is that? He needs to go to church.’ That’s all we did is make fun of Jon the whole time. It’s pretty fun.
Question: What made you think a ’70s porn moustache was right for a kids movie?
Spade: Something for the parents I guess. Because they can laugh at that during the fart scenes.
Question: They’ll have to learn about John Holmes eventually.
Spade: Yeah, they are. It’s in schools now. Mandatory. I just thought, and there’s one part where I wear these ’70s shades when I’m at the Batmobile, I walk out. I forgot to take them off so I had them on in the scene because halfway through they were like, ‘Wait, did you have those on?’ Yes. It’s like the Tom Cruise thing where it’s so bright, he’s always got one eye closed like that because there are so many fucking lights in your eyes. So he’s turned into this guy and I turned into accidentally wears shades guy. So anyway, I wore those and I looked even funnier like ’70s because I had these big ’70s like Aviators. So anyway, that’s funny. Come on, Joe Dirt had a funny wig, let’s go. It’s wigs.
Question: Were you teasing Jon a lot as initiation?
Spade: Well, we needed him. It was really like Sandler and Nick Swartzen and those guys that wrote it. I think Ritchie they thought of for me and then they didn’t know the other guys, who they would be. So we were thinking of people and then Clark, once Rob got on, Clark was the last one we didn’t have. And we were all going, ‘Who?’ and then I saw Napoleon Dynamite. I only saw half of it and I called Adam, I go, ‘Dude, we’ve got to get this guy. He’s funny.’ And kids like him and I think that’s a good mix of Rob and I because we used to work together and then maybe him because he’s new and people like him. It’s just you want a good mix and I thought that was a funny mix if you do it. And he was into it. He was excited. Adam called him and he was cool about it.
Question: What about Lovitz?
Spade: Lovitz was a mistake, yeah. That was like, ‘Wait, did you tell him he had it? I thought you did. But he’s on the set. Nothing we can do now.’ We wanted Lovitz to wear a big curly wig, like early Billy Crystal from Soap. He didn’t want to wear a wig. And Rob goes, ‘Put your vanity aside.’ That’s what he told me too. ‘Put your ego aside.’ I go, ‘Where’s your wig, smart ass?’ ‘My guy doesn’t wear one.’
Question: How much input did you have on the script?
Spade: Well, with those guys it’s great because it’s always going to be kind of close because they know me and they know me in real life so they kind of know my little mumbly jokes they can put in and then they say- – Dennis Dugan does so many takes it’s ridiculous so we just say, ‘If you’re doing so many, just make up stuff.’ Like at the end you’re just so bored you just make up. But a lot of times he’ll be like, ‘Pretty good, going again.’ And then you’re like, ‘What are we doing now?’ ‘You just say stuff. Whatever. We’ve got all day.’ So the fun stuff is like we have so many angles too. We have the catcher looking at me, when I’m batting. So I’m just like, ‘Dude, kabang.’ And that stuff makes me laugh because then he just goes, ‘Keep going.’ So I’m like, ‘Strike, you know, pulled something. I used to run track.’ You can see me laughing at myself because I don’t know what to say because there are no lines. He’d say, ‘Keep going. Pretty good, I’m loving it.’ So then you’ve got an angle from the pitcher looking at you and then you’ve got to do the umpire’s view. So you just keep doing- – that’s what I didn’t know about baseball movies. You have to do it from everyone’s angle, every fielder and we have to do it this way. And then when I’m catcher, once I got that mask on, I go like this, ‘Can’t really see me, can you? My double, get in there.’ I got a bad neck, I go, ‘I thought I was a softball guy.’ I thought the whole movie was about softball, swear to go, for the whole time. A week before I went to- – they go, ‘You want to go to baseball camp?’ I go, ‘To be bad? I’m already bad, I don’t care.’ So I go there, I go, ‘Do I just stand there?’ And he throws one, it bounces and you catch it and you throw it back. You get to stand and it’s easy. Then I get there and they bring out all this equipment. I go, ‘This is baseball. Are you kidding? I don’t want to be catcher then.’ This 40 pound pure steel helmet so I’m like this. ??? And then all the equipment on my legs and they had to jack me up. ‘Dude, every scene and we’re doing it in the middle of the valley in the summer?’ These are the real problems I have. I like how someone’s got an Ipod.
Question: What’s it like working with the kids?
Spade: The kids are funny because kids are just always happy. They’re in a good mood and they know everything we did. They mostly like Napoleon Dynamite so wherever we go, they’d be all excited that he was around. And he’s already kind of sick of it which is the funniest part. ‘I’ve done other stuff, you know.’ I’m like, ‘No, you haven’t.’ ‘Still, I’m gonna.’
Question: With such insight into Hollywood, does that ever close any doors for you?
Spade: As long as I lay off Sandler I’m okay. I wind up only working for him I think. Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts, they were all for him. So basically I am in my own little world. I don’t know. I don’t do that many other movies. I kind of do with these guys and then work, I do standup on the road. I thought I would probably do another sitcom or something but I kind of got into this Showbiz Show and I like that now.
Question: Do you miss television and was Just Shoot Me an invaluable experience?
Spade: Yes, Just Shoot Me was a lot of fun for me and people still- – it still airs. I like it. It’s one of those things where it got cut probably a year short for our taste but I didn’t care. It was great. I had a great time, loved it, got lucky with that one and would probably do something similar, but you’ve got to look out there to see what’s going on and it’s a lot of single camera stuff now.
Question: It’s very risky now, too?
Spade: Well, it’s so brutal. What makes it is so hard and sometimes shows like Arrested Development, shows that you think are actually pretty good don’t. So it’s not an exact science obviously. Some good shows don’t make it. You just kind of cross your fingers and I like the one I’m on right now where you can do jokes about what’s going on in Hollywood. And then we get to do little field bits. We’re doing more of that this year. I’m going out in the field and doing stuff which I hate but it’s funny hopefully. I just don’t like to go out and deal with the real world. It’s scary.
Question: Would you do something on this movie?
Spade: Every situation is tough. We have some people actually want to do the show. They call and say, ‘I want to do something on your show’ and then we don’t know what to do with them because we don’t do straightforward interviews which is the easiest. ‘Oh yeah, you want to do it? Come on, we’ll interview you about your movie.’ But that’s kind of going against what we do, so we have to think of just a joke or trick. Kid Rock I think we were going to do maybe an Inside the Actor’s Studio about his sex tape. But we don’t really do sketches so it’s kind of weird, we’ve got to find how to do it. We were going to morph him into James Lipton and do a real interview, like, ‘Tell us about your role’ like he’s talking to Al Pacino and then it’s Kid Rock sitting in the same background going, ‘It wasn’t really a role, it was just me and this dude getting BJs’ and Lipton’s going, ‘Yes.’ So when people want to do the show, we’re immediately like, we get letters like, ‘These five people said they wanted to do something with you. They have a movie coming out or they saw a show’ and then it’s hard to just sit in a room and go, ‘This person, what’s the idea? Well, they could do this. No, that’s not good enough.’ So with this, that’s like Comedy Central, ‘Well, you’re all together, why don’t you do something.’ So yesterday, we had Andrew Daly who’s a guy who does reporting on our show, a correspondent, he was just a junket guy and so he just talked to Rob and Jon. He was in love with Napoleon Dynamite and he just talked about that movie and had him sign something, he didn’t even talk to me. Then I said, ‘I was in the movie too’ and he goes, ‘I didn’t see you, what’d you do?’ I go, ‘I was Ritchie.’ And he goes, ‘Ritchie, Ritchie…’ I go, ‘He was one of the- – you know Ritchie, dumb ass.’ He goes, ‘I just watch him because it just makes me laugh. The second time I see everybody else.’ So then we did that little bit and then after I walk up to him with the camera behind me like I don’t see him. I go, ‘What the fuck, was that a bit?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you knew I was doing that.’ I go, ‘I didn’t know. That’s not funny to me. That’s about me.’ I go, ‘Uh, I love Napoleon Dynamite. Was that the whole joke?’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ I go, ‘It’s lame and I’m not going to put it on.’
Question: Do people ever respond to what you do on the show?
Spade: No, not really badly. Some people go, ‘Oh, I saw it. Oh, please don’t do us.’ But I think it’s like Letterman or Chris Rock. Everyone kind of does jokes about everyone and that’s just kind of the drill. You just hope they don’t do it about you. But I’ve had them do it about me and I don’t like it. I say it’s fine but I don’t like it.
Question: How important is standup for you?
Spade: I think I’m getting worse. I’ve been doing the Mirage a lot in Vegas. I go out there and they pay more, so it’s harder because I have to do better. And I have to do it longer. I’m not that bad at it anymore but it’s really hard when you’ve got too much going on. Like right now it’s really hard because I have this and the show starts Thursday. We tape Wednesday the first show. So this is like a little crazy time but usually I’ve got a lot of time off and I sneak out there and do it and I get to work on it. It’s good to do standup. It kind of wakes you up and makes you feel like you’re doing something and get the crowd right there. That’s all fun. But it’s a lot of work. Like I asked Adam why he doesn’t do it anymore. He would never consider it. He goes, ‘I would never do it again.’ It’s hard and he gets overwhelmed with probably too high of expectations so it’s not that fun for him.
Question: Did you give Lovitz tips?
Spade: Yeah, he’s horrible. Actually, we and Chris Rock, it was kind of ballsy, we go to a club and he goes, ‘I’ll come with you.’ So I go, ‘I just want to practice some stuff’ and Chris Rock had to practice for the Oscars or one of those shows. So we went and did a set, I did 15, then Rock did 15 and then Lovitz goes, ‘I’ll go on.’ So he went up and Rock’s like, ‘This I gotta see.’ We sat in the back and every other joke was pretty good and we’d go, ‘What? That was pretty good.’ He goes, ‘I know, what the fuck?’ And then he’d be like, ‘Knock knock, who’s there?’ We go, ‘Lovitz, you stumble into some good stuff and then you do like a joke from grade school.’ So he does have funny- – I haven’t seen him in a year but he’s a funny guy, he’s very likeable. Any movie he does, everyone likes him in it. Even this one, he’s funny. But that’s half the battle. And he is funny but he’s his own worst enemy. He overthinks it.
Question: Schneider’s big in Mexico. Where are you big?
Spade: [points down] This means Mexico. I don’t know anywhere. I’ve never been anywhere. I went to Australia. It was my only out of the US. That was for Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts but Joe Dirt luckily they knew- – Just Shoot Me just started there or I don’t think it would’ve done anything but then Joe Dirt did well because suddenly they knew who I was. Then Dickie Roberts but it’s not like here. I can cruise around down there and pretty much or [pimp something down???] and they go, ‘Oh, you’re that one dude.’ Other than that, I haven’t gone to Europe. I have no idea really. I don’t know if comedy- – maybe Just Shoot Me has a chance but movies I think comedies have a tougher time overseas. I’m talking totally out of my ass. I have no idea. I think I’ve heard that though.
Question: Why are bands still not doing their hits?
Spade: They’re not listening, are they? I don’t know. The idea would be if you could- – one time I saw an ad for Styx of all bands. In the ad, it was like a square ad in the LA times and around it, they had the hits that they sing. They’re singing all their hits. I go, ‘Okay, that’s enough. I’m going.’ So if people would on websites, I sometimes try to scroll around and find a song list of someone that went to the concert. ‘Oh, he didn’t do this.’ If you can find that, I went to Springsteen too and it was like I’m not a super I love everything, so I’m kind of looking for… and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I wish I would’ve just had a heads up.’ Because you’re going to spend a lot of money, you’re going to make the hassle. I might go see the Pretenders as my next concert. I saw them before and they were great. So I’m just going to gamble but the New Cars is the new thing that scares me because the new Cars without Rick Ocasek so I should just make a chart. You were Staples Center, now it’s the Key Club. G5, 87 VW van.
Question: What’s next?
Spade: Just doing the show for a while and then might do another Joe Dirt movie end of the summer. That’s about it. The show is really starting and that’s what I have to do, like my day to day job. This movie I love and we did it last summer so it’s been kind of- – I haven’t had to deal with it for a while but then when it came on, I saw a screening, I was excited.
Question: Were there lots of questions unanswered by the first Joe Dirt?
Spade: Yes, there were. We’re actually going right to 3.
Question: How long does it take to throw together the script?
Spade: We wrote it. We wrote it because Sandler thinks it’s funny. You hear these things, like I go on the road and I hear more about that than anything. That’s how you get feedback. There are some movies that just- – not everyone’s asking about Lost and Found. So when I go out, you hear about the certain movies a lot and then you get weird facts like it sold the most DVDs at Sony a year ago from all their movies at Wal-Mart. So you go, ‘Does that matter?’ Yeah. So then I asked the DVD guy, ‘What does that mean?’ And he goes, ‘Well, it came out and sold a lot the first month and then it never dropped. It just sells the same for the year.’ So that makes everyone think and go, ‘Well, someone…’ but maybe they just don’t believe it the first time so you’ve got to get them into theaters. That’s the tough part because they seem to do well on video which is a big market but you want them to do well in the theater because that’s all people kind of know.
Question: What about Dickie?
Spade: Dickie there’s really nowhere to go with it but I love it. Now I hear kids know it now but there’s only so many sequels I can do in the summer. I like the new Joe Dirt, we read it, it’s funny and Adam likes it. If it falls into place, it will and it’ll be fun to do, but Electric Dirtaloo.
Question: Does it hurt when you don’t get Lost and Found feedback?
Spade: Well, Lost and Found I went in kind of blind. Not knowing anything, I just did Saturday Night Live and I had an idea for a movie with my buddy. I thought the title was a little soft, we used a foreign actress. There are so many things. And the movie was not that hilarious but there’s a lot of things we could’ve done to fix it. I didn’t listen to them. I kind of did my own thing. And it was for what? $8 million. I’m sure someone did fine with it but to me, you want it to be a bigger deal when you come out. So I had to stop for two years and think and figure out, and whatever. Did Just Shoot Me and you just try to do whatever. Like Capital One commercials, they turn out funny, you never know, you do your best and then I don’t know they’re going to be playing like a machine gun out there. So you go, ‘Well, I’m glad that one’s kind of funny.’ Then I requested that guy again. I go, ‘Always use him if I’m in it because he’s funny.’ So again, safety in numbers like this movie. You get someone funny with you, it helps.