In Defence of Spade; A Response to 'Letter to David Spade'

By Bub 

I know defence is spelled with an 's' in America. Get over yourselves.

Sure, David Spade did a Bruce Springsteen parody song called “Corn in the USA”. And sure, he held a piece of corn in the air and sang the refrain “Corn in the USA” over and over as if that was the joke. And I’ll even grant you that he later went on in that parody song to talk about shucking a thirteen year old girl. Does that make David Spade a monster? Maybe. Does that make him a terrible person? Probably. But those aren’t the important questions. What we should be asking is, “Did he entertain the fuck out of those Scottsdale Arizona pizzeria patrons?” And the answer to that is unquestionably, yes.

Spade had a rough lot in life. He was born in Birmingham, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit which is just as awful as wherever Eminem grew up but in the exact opposite way. This is the town that produced scourges on society like Tim Allen, Alexi Lalas and Chris Hansen from NBC’s “To Catch a Predator”. If that wasn’t bad enough Spade’s father moved his family to Scottsdale, Arizona, a place known as “the most horrible, miserable place on Earth” and then abandoned them. Spade’s mother remarried, only to have his step-father commit suicide when he was seventeen. Shortly after that, his best friend died in a motorcycle accident. Oh, and did I mention that Ronald Reagan was president?

So, you show me someone that can endure a start to life as traumatic as that and still push on to make a career in comedy and I will show you a Man among men. That Man is David Spade.

Let’s take a look at his time at SNL. Some may argue that his skits weren’t funny, and that he was smarmy and sarcastic. They may be right. But let me tell you that there are starving kids in Africa that only get The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn who would literally die to watch someone as relatively funny and un-smarmy and non-sarcastic as David Spade. Even if I grant you that his skits may not have been funny let’s take a look at what they were trying to do. Possession, as they say, is nine-tenths of the law. And if we can establish that Spade possessed a pure motive then we are 9/10s of the way to acquitting him from his work on SNL.

Exhibit A – His most well-known recurring bit was as the sarcastic Hollywood Minute reporter on Weekend Update which was parlayed into its own separate segment Spade in America. This was arguably Spade at his smarmiest and sarcasticle (no that’s not a real word, it’s sarcastic + pinnacle). But what was he really doing? He was launching the first guerilla strike against the burgeoning pop-celebrity-hegemonical-globalized-fascist culture that is reaching new heights even to this day. Sarah Palin is a serious political figure in this country for fucksake. And if it wasn’t for David Spade inducing the cultural backlash toward this blithe soul extermination we might already have a President Sarah Palin.

Exhibit B – His lesser roles as Christy the GAP clothing store worker, and the ‘buh-bye’ flight attendant were arguably more awful, but nonetheless took a piss at worthy piss-taking targets. Christy epitomized the glossy-eyed vacuous pop-celebrity fan that was enabling the cultural extermination he ardently fought against. And the ‘buh-bye’ flight attendant lampooned the epidemic of fake sincerity that seemed to have trickled down from Victorian aristocracy to our nation’s airlines. Surely anyone who has flown in a commercial airline or even visited their local Wal Mart at some point has resented the fact that they were being forced to greet a stranger. Maybe it’s not funny, but, as everything David Spade has ever done, it was poignant.

Let’s move on to Spade’s movie career. Now I know many have reduced Spade-Farley movies to a bunch of fat jokes, which they are. But those who dwell only on the ugliness of the part miss the beauty of the whole, or in this case the relative funniness of the part in Tommy Boy where Spade is straightening Farley’s tie and it comes off because it is a clip-on and Farley says “Heh heh, it’s a clip-on” and Spade says ‘are you sure?’ or ‘you think?’ or something sarcastic like that and it was funny because of how stupid Tommy Boy (the character) was. And that brings up another point. During this time Happy Madison productions was winning over teenaged Bub’s by grossly aggrandizing Adam Sandler, making film after film where New Jersey’s version of the aw-shucks-good-old-boy teaches the city-slickers-cum-anyone-who-isn’t-Adam-Sandler a lesson about life and being a good person. Spade played straight man to Farley’s unapologetic idiot who becomes the films’ heroes in spite of the kind of person he is not because of it. That is the real life lesson. Sometimes idiots are funny, and sometimes they succeed at things.

Critics of Spade’s sitcom career often remind me of Howard Zinn in their attempts to rewrite history and forget how awesome America is. Sure it’s easy to point at a genocide or Rules of Engagement and nit-pick. But that’s not what Betsy Ross did and neither will I. Sure Rules of Engagement is almost certainly the worst television show ever made. And it is especially offensive that is simultaneously so bad AND Patrick Warburton is in it. But Spade has only been in 22 episodes of the show. Compare that with 39 episodes of 8 Simple Rules which he heroically filled the void left by the gruesomely murdered John Ritter, or the 149 episodes of Just Shoot Me for which he earned both emmy and golden globe nominations. I know Just Shoot Me wasn’t terrific. But in an era of Carolines in the City and Suddenly Susans, this show had both Brian Posehn and David Cross as bit characters. As a young man visiting home from college, trying to deal with the emotional scar of 9/11, I remember many fond nights of smoking my mother’s pot, eating dried cranberries and watching reruns of Just Shoot Me on TBS. The one time I tried to watch Will & Grace - two weeks later I got mugged.

I wont say that this excuses his behavior. He can’t take back his actions, actions of terrible comedy - actions which can only be characterized as terrorist. But many forget that the State of Israel was brought into being through an ‘act of terrorism’ after the bombing of the King David Hotel broke England’s will to remain as occupiers of the Palestinian lands. And many also forget that Nelson Mandela was a ‘terrorist’ before becoming leader, reconciler and defeater of hatred. So even though Spade, much like the current State of Israel, indiscriminately targets civilians, and like Mandela, sleeps with many many supermodels and pornstars, he still is capable of something legitimately funny like this internet spoof of To Catch a Predator. He was Joe Dirt but he also made Kid Rock look like an asshole in that movie. He was Dickie Roberts but he was also in PCU (come on, George Clinton was in that movie). He may not win a Nobel Prize, even if they expand its scope to something like comedy or being in a lot of things. He may not even be able to sleep at night, what with his successful career, his millions of dollars, and beautiful women. But I am certain that somewhere past the point where the sky meets the sea, his dead-beat dad and his just-plain-dead step-dad are awfully proud.


  1. Corn in the USA was one of the best parodies I ever had the fortune of seeing performed live by Rage Against the Machine.

  2. John Candy's GhostMarch 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    yeah he seems like a good guy I think i'll go visit him now


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