The actor discusses making the film, the Showbiz Show, Just Shoot Me and the Joe Dirt sequel

With sardonic humor to burn and a wicked look in his eyes, David Spade has seemed to have made career out of "asides" and "quips." However, it is his ability to level humor with a distinct vulnerability, that ultimately endears the comic/actor to so many people. Afterall, it takes a great deal of talent to do comedic turns in films like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep and Joe Dirt and not seem like you're repeating yourself.

However, it is in his co-starring role (with Rob Schneider and Jon Heder) as Richie in The Benchwarmers, that Spade takes another turn in his acting oeuvre. Sure there are the funny comic moments that highlight Spade's wry sense of humor, but there is also a levity to his character that is more down to earth than I think audiences have ever seen from him. As a result he, Schneider (who also turns in an "average guy" performance) and Heder have created a movie that is a bit different than what you might expect from a Happy Madison Production.

Any truth to the rumor that there is going to be a Capital One feature film?

David Spade: I think there's a movie there.

We like that character.

David Spade: Really? I've never played anything else. Actually, this is one I'm kinda different. It's basically always the same lets be honest.

Did you have any input into the hairdo?

David Spade: I did. I 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, you really can't do much. I was gonna dye it... than I just thought... I saw a bowl cut wig on Saturday Night Live and I go, "Ohhhh, juicy, I like that one." It looked so dumb. So we tried to recreate that. I walked out of the trailer I saw Rob, I saw Adam Sandler... I said, "Hey look!" And everyone was like "Oh yeah!" And so I'm like, "Okay, well that's funny."

And the half mustache?

David Spade: Oh, my little porn one? I just thought like 70s porn. I see these guys... they shave the top part. Actually, Sean Penn does it too.

So what makes you think a porn mustache is just the right look for a kid's movie?

David Spade: Something for the parents, I guess? Cause they can laugh at that during the fart scenes.

Well, kids are going to have to learn about John Holmes eventually?

David Spade: It's in schools now. It's mandatory. I just thought, there's this one part where I wear these 70s shades, when I'm at the Bat Mobile. I forgot to take them off, I had them on in the scene. It's like halfway through they're like, "Wait, do you have those on?" "Yes."

So anyway, I wore those and I look even funnier, like 70s because I do fake 70s, like aviator... so anyway that's funny, come on! I got a funny wig, lets go!

You said you were teasing Jon a lot? Was that an initiation?

David Spade: We needed him. It was really like Sandler and Nick Swardson and those guys who wrote it, I think Richie they thought of for me and then they didn't know the other guys; who they would be. We were thinking of people and then Clark, once Rob got on, Clark was the last one we didn't have. We were all going "Who?" and then I saw Napoleon Dynamite. I only saw half of it. I called Adam, I said, "Dude, we gotta 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 maybe him because he's new and people like him.

You just want a good mix and I thought that was a funny mix if he'd do it. He was into it. He was excited Adam called him and he was cool about it.

What about Jon Lovitz?

David Spade: Lovitz was a mistake. That was like, "Wait did you tell him he had it?" "I thought you did." "But he's on the set." "There's 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. Rob said, "Put your vanity aside." That's what he told me too, "Put your ego aside." I go, "Where's your wig?" "My guy doesn't wear one."

How much input did you have in the script?

David Spade: Well, with those guys it's great because it's always gonna be kinda close because they know me, and they know me in real life so they kinda know my little mumbly jokes they can put in. Dennis Dugan (The Benchwarmers director) does so many takes it's ridiculous. We just say, "You're doing so many just make up stuff." At the end you're just so bored you just make up..., but a lot of times he'll be like, "Pretty good, go again!" And then you're like, "What are we doing now?" "Say stuff. Whatever. We've got all day!"

So the fun stuff is like... you've got so many angles, too. You have the catcher looking at me when I'm batting. So, I'm just like, "Dude, kebang." And then that stuff makes me laugh and then he just goes, "Keep going." So I'm like, "Strike two, I pulled something. I used to run track." You can see me laughing at myself because I don't know what to say. There's no lines. He's like, "Keep going. Pretty good, I'm loving it." Then you got an angle from the pitcher looking at you. Then the umpire... so you just keep doing it. That's what I didn't know about baseball movies, you have to do it from like everyone's angle.

And then when I'm catcher, once I got that mask on I go like this, "You can't really see me can you? My double! Get in there." I thought the whole movie was about softball. Swear to God, to whole time. A week before they said, "You wanna go to baseball camp?" I'm like, "To be bad? I'm already bad. I don't care." So I go and I just stand there and they throw up one and it bounces and I catch it, I throw it back and I just stand and it's easy. Then I get there and they bring out all this equipment. And I'm going "What?" "This is baseball." "Are you kidding?" I go, "I don't want to be catcher then." Wearing one of those forty pound, pure steel helmets... and then all the equipment on my legs, so they have to jack me up, "Dude, every scene, every day in the middle of the valley in the summer?"

What was it like playing with the kids?

David Spade: The kids are just always happy, they're in a good mood and they know everything we did. They mostly like Napoleon Dynamite. Wherever we'd go they'd be all excited that he was around, and he's already kinda 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...."

You have such insight into the Hollywood Industry does that ever close any doors for you?

David Spade: As long as I lay of Sandler I'm okay. I wind up only working for him, I think. Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts, they were all for him. Basically, I'm in my own little world, I don't know? I don't do that many other movies. I kinda do it with these guys and then work, I do stand-up on the road. I thought I would probably be doing another sitcom or something but I kinda got into this Showbiz Show. And I like that now, so...

Was Just Shoot Me! an invaluable experience?

David Spade: Yes, Just Shoot Me! was a lot of fun. It still airs. I like it. It's one of those things where it got cut probably a year short for our tastes but I didn't care it was great. I had a great time. Loved it. Got lucky with that one and we'll probably do something similar, but you gotta look out there and see what's going on and it's a lot of single camera stuff and all that.

It's so brutal, what makes it is so hard. Sometimes shows like Arrested Development, or shows that you think are actually pretty good... don't. It's not an exact science, obviously. Some good shows don't make it. You just kinda cross your fingers. I like the one I'm on right now, we get to do jokes about what's going on in Hollywood and then we get to do 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.

Would you do something on The Benchwarmers or is that a line you wouldn't cross?

David Spade: Well, every situation is tough. We have some people who actually want to do they 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 straight forward 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 a trick.

Kid Rock, I think maybe we were going to do an Inside the Actor's Studio about his sex tape, but we don't really do sketches so it's kinda weird. We gotta find out how to do it so it's kind of like we were going to morph him into James Lipton and do a real interview. "Tell us about your role?" Like he's talking to Al Pacino. Then it's Kid Rock sitting in the same background going, "It wasn't really a role. It was me and this dude getting BJs." And the audience going, "Yes."

So when people want to do the show we're immediately like, we get a list like, these five people said they want to do something with you; they have a movie coming out. Or, they saw the show and it's hard because you sit in a room and go, "This person... what's the idea?" "Well, this person, they could do this..." "No, that's not good enough, no." So with this, they said lets do something... so yesterday we had Andrew Daly who's a guy who does reporting on our show, correspondence... he was just a junket guy so he talked to Rob and Jon. He was in love with Napoleon Dynamite. He just talked about that movie, had him sign stuff and he didn't even talk to me at all.

I said, "I was in the movie, too." He goes, "I didn't see you what'd you do?" I go, "I was Richie." And he goes, "Richie?" I go, "You know Richie, dumbass. I was with him." And 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 and I go, "What the f**k? Was that a bit?" He goes, "Yeah, you knew I was doing that." I go, "I didn't know. It's not funny to me. That's about me. That's not funny." I go, "I love Napoleon Dynamite, is that the whole joke?" He goes, "Well, yeah." I go, "It's lame and I'm not gonna put it on."

Do people ever respond badly to stuff you do on the show?

David Spade: No, not really badly. Sometimes people go, "Oh, I saw it. Please don't do us." But I think it's like Letterman, Chris Rock or people... everyone kinda does jokes about everybody. That's just kinda the drill. You just hope they don't do it about you. I've had them do them about me and I don't like it. And I say it's fine but I don't like it.

How does stand-up go for you? Does it reinforce your comedic roots?

David Spade: I think I'm getting worse. I've been doing the Mirage a lot in Vegas so I go out there. They pay more so it's harder because I have to do better. I have to do 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 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 stand-up. It kind of wakes you up and makes you feel like you're doing something. You got 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 and he said he would never consider it. He would never do it again. And that's how we got here but it's hard and he gets overwhelmed with probably two high of expectations so it's not that fun.

Rob Schneider was telling us that he's surprisingly big in Mexico, where are you surprisingly big?

David Spade: I don't know. I've never been anywhere, so I don't know. I went to Australia, it was my only out of the US, I went for Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts. Luckily, Just Shoot Me! had just started there or I don't think it would have done anything, but then Joe Dirt did well because suddenly they knew who I was. It's not like here, I can cruise around down there... 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 comedies, 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 right now. I think I heard that before.

What do you have coming up next?

David Spade: Just doing the show for awhile. I might do another Joe Dirt movie in the summer, but 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, we did it last summer so I haven't had to deal with it for awhile. Then when it came on, I saw a screening I was excited.

Where there a lot of questions unanswered by the first Joe Dirt?

David Spade: Yes, there were. We're actually going right to three.

When you say you might do one this summer, how long does it take to throw together the script?

David Spade: We wrote it and because Sandler thinks it's funny. There's some, you hear these things like... I hear more about that than anything. Sequels. That's how you get feedback. There's some movies like, not everybody's asking about Lost and Found, so when I go out you hear about 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. And so you go, "Does that matter?" "Yeah, that's their biggest..." So 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 sells the same for the year.

So that makes everyone think and go... maybe they just don't believe it the first time so you've gotta get them in the 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.

What about a sequel to Dickie Roberts?

David Spade:Dickie? There's really nowhere to go with it, but I love it. 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 and we'll just... if it falls into place it will and it'll be fun to do.

Is Lost and Found a film you're upset about?

David Spade: Well, Lost and Found I went in kinda 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 foreign actors, there were so many things... and the movie was not that hilarious, but there's a lot of things we could have done to fix it, I didn't listen to. I just 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 wanted it to be a bigger deal... it's like the Capital One commercials. They turn out funny, you never know, you do your best and I don't know they're gonna be playing like machine guns out there. You go, "I'm glad that one's kinda funny." I requested that guy again, I go, "Always use him if I'm in it because he's funny." Again, safety in numbers, it's like this movie you get someone funny with you it helps.

The Benchwarmers opens nationwide on April 7th, 2006 through Columbia Pictures.

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs