David Spade on “Rules” guest stars and Hollywood gossip

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: David Spade has been a gossip king since he started doing his Hollywood Minute on Saturday Night Live. Now he’s transformed his sarcastic humor into a career, with memorable characters in shows like Just Shoot Me and movies like Tommy Boy. Now he’s doing it on CBS’s Monday night comedy Rules of Engagement. Spade spoke with the media in a conference call to dish the dirt on upcoming guest stars and the Hollywood scene.

Q: Is this sarcastic persona timeless or will you have to retire it at some point?

DS: It’s funny because you spend your career trying to find some sort of angle or some sort of voice. I did it at Saturday Night Live. To get on the show you need something. Farley was the fat guy. Adam was singing songs. Chris Rock was angry. I couldn’t find anything so what surfaced was kind of sarcastic, this kind of whatever I do. The funny part is the rest of your career you fight that and try to do something different. At some point I realized I don’t do that much different so that was the other problem. The skirt chasing guy like I did on Just Shoot Me, now I’m trying to make it slightly different, older version, a little beat up. I think I just fall into these things. This was Adam Sandler’s idea because this show was already up and running. I had done a sitcom before obviously. I was up for doing one again. It was a little sooner than I thought but when you get handed a script that’s funny, a pilot’s already shot and a network that likes it, it turned into why don’t I do this? Not knowing I’ll do it for five years but I think the next time around I do something, I will try to change up a little bit. It’s hard to get work in this town, you know. It’s hard to have a career. I’m lucky to be here and then on the other hand, of course you want to change it up a little bit. But on the show, you can’t while you’re locked into the show so I just make it the funniest I can do it every week. I think we have some pretty good shows with it, with everyone interacting.

Q: Rules of Engagement hasn’t been critically acclaimed but people like it. To what do you attribute its success?

DS: Interesting, you never know. There are some times when I watch a TV season and your favorite shows die quickly and the other ones you say not your favorite, they live on for 12 years. So I never quite have figured it out, obviously no one has, what works and what doesn’t. I guess I just think it kind of fits a good thing on a Monday night. We’re kind of funny, slightly edgy and maybe relatable because there’s always someone that falls into the category of married for a while or about to get married or single for too long. That’s kind of what drew me to it, that I thought someone could relate to everything. There’s always a person or a couple there you can kind of get into and it makes it funny. I thought it was well written so I think it’s just one of those things where I’m kind of a familiar face at this point. Maybe that’s a comfortability for people just to go, “I know what this joker’s going to be like.” Everyone together kind of meshes well. I don’t know. We don’t get critically hammered but we don’t get critically praised that much. We kind of just live in the middle somewhere and I guess that maybe helps its longevity. Who knows?

Q: What do you like best about interacting with Russell and Timmy?

DS: Timmy was kind of a nice addition. We’ve turned into our own little couple in a weird way because they were always writing for the couples. Then I would get like a guest star or a girl to come on for that work, which is fine, to have a flirty thing and do the dating and all that. That’s always fun and we can still do it. I do like Timmy coming in as another element because when you have one more voice in there, we can go back and forth which I think is good for the audience. Then we can also introduce a date for me in or someone else for him and there are a triangle of problems. Then we interact with the other couples also. So I like that he came on and stuck around because I don’t think that was even the plan but it wound up syncing up nicely and filling out this little void there. You need everything you can to be successful so one more guy being funny and different helps. So I’m happy with it.

Q: Is your real mother anything like Joan Collins?

DS: No, the only thing they have in common, they’re both very pretty and actually very sweet. My mom is not like the Joan Collins on the show. My mom was really what saved me because the dad skadoodled on the three kids, the three boys. This is mom with the two jobs and no child support, just roughing it in the ‘70s, ‘80s, whenever it is. I’m trying to figure out how old I say I am sometimes, do the quick math to change it. But she really had it tough. She really tried not to lead on how tough it was. I look back, it was brutal. We never had money, we never had anything. So the fact that now I’m doing well, I gave her a diamond skateboard. I think that’s what she always wanted. She never said it but I think that’s what every mom wants, and a solid gold football helmet. No, I really try to take care of my mom now because it really was the only structurally sound thing in my life. It still is, thank God.

Q: What are your favorite shows on TV now?

DS: You know, I get asked that question. It’s always funny. It ranges from the easy: Simpsons still makes me laugh. South Park I get jealous of. They’re always pretty timely and funny. I do watch the odd shows like I try to go for Hoarders. Most of the shows I want to do I’m not smart enough to figure out how to watch. Even a Friday Night Lights I want to know what’s going on. Don’t know where it is, have no idea how to do it on my TV. My butler just tries all day to Tivo things. There’s no butler. I hate this because I really want to have good answers and I can never think. There’s so many g*ddamn shows on and I always go, “That one’s good, I want to watch that” and I just can’t get it together. Even though Celebrity Rehab, there’s some riveting stuff and there’s some not so riveting. Apparently these reality shows aren’t going away. I like the companies that do them. They’ve got Ace of Cakes and you know those pitch meetings are like, “What about Ace of Cupcakes? Think there’s an audience for that?” And everyone’s like, “I don’t know, it’s a real niche.” “Well, the dumb cake one worked. What about Prince of Pop Tarts? What do you think, everyone?” I just can’t imagine what’s working out there but I know that some of those you just get hooked on. You just watch and you start to go, “I. Am. Still. Watching. I. Am. Hypnotized.”

Q: I really liked The Showbiz Show. What do you think of this year’s crop of awards movies?

DS: It’s funny, I just figured out a slight outlet for that. We were going to put together these comics for newspapers because newspapers are all online now, but the comics aren’t. So me and my buddy Fred Wolf from SNL and he also wrote a bunch of the movies with me. We’ve been making up comics and we threw one on Saturday Night Live at the very end of the [Oct. 30] show. Maybe you can YouTube it or something. It’s me as a dog in a purse. I just walk around Hollywood parties with my owner, comment on stuff that’s going on. So it’s kind of commenting on the club scene, and there’s a little bit of showbiz. Of course I make fun of Willow Smith and Charlie Sheen. It’s kind of a good way to do that so we might do more of that. Yeah, Willow Smith, she’s had it easy for too long, right everybody? Let’s get her! Anyway, other than that, Showbiz Show was a lot of fun. There’s more shows that are popping up like it now. I guess I can’t go back and do it again but it was kind of good to have that outlet. I don’t know what to say about the new movies now. I just have to sit and think. There are some good ones, but I guess that’s not what people want to hear from me. I’ll work on that. Yeah, I do need to do more stuff like that.

Q: What other film and TV appearances do you have coming up?

DS: The cartoon was kind of a fluke because I do two of the voices out of like 12 cartoons. We’ve got Sarah Silverman and some other people that are fun to do, Kevin Nealon I think, Dana Carvey. So those things will rotate out. You’ll hear about them more maybe in the future. Those are just kind of fun to put together. Other than that, the Grown-Ups movie worked out well for everybody so Adam is trying to think of something else for us all to do. I have this TV schedule and Adam’s just got movie schedules so to sync up everybody, all five of us to have the same time off, I shouldn’t be the problem but I kind of am. I shouldn’t have the balls to be the problem with all those stars but I’d be lucky to get another one of those. Then we’re developing a movie about fantasy football that hopefully I would do this summer. Other than that, I just do my crummy standup act now and then in Las Vegas and it’s fun to do. I just try to pay the bills on the Jetta. Just keep the pinstripes on the Jetta, that’s all I’m thinking in the back of my head.

Q: Will Sara Rue be back on Rules?

DS: Sara Rue was a sweetheart. She was on with Joan Collins. I think it’s the same episode. My scenes were not with her so I just got to chat with her in between. Another one we’re lucky to get, someone people know, someone that’s cute and funny and she winds up I think playing a running character for a while so that will be nice. Even Joan I think was up for coming back so we’ve got to figure out where that would go. She was quite fun and sweet. I never, ever knew her because I don’t go to Spago, but I thought she wound up being a sweetheart. Both of those coming back would be nice. I think Sara for sure has to because there’s a story, but they don’t tell me anything. They just tell me to do my lines and shut up, whatever that means.

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