David Spade remembers spending a week at Joker’s Comedy Club in Tulsa when he was 23.
He recalled performing at a casino just this side of the Texas-Oklahoma border.
Add it all up, and he’s been on Oklahoma soil for barely a blink of his lifetime.
But let’s go ahead and make Spade, who will perform Saturday, Jan. 19, at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, an honorary Oklahoman.
Six years ago, after Moore was ravaged by a killer tornado, Spade donated $200,000 to the American Red Cross’ tornado relief efforts. It wasn’t because he has roots here. He was born in Michigan, raised in Arizona and lives in California. But he saw news footage of the devastation and figured it was one of those situations where everybody should chip in a little bit.
“I think when those things happen, especially in hard-working middle America where all my ‘Joe Dirt’ fans are from, you just want to help,” Spade said during a phone interview this week. “And at the time, I had a little extra where I could help and you always hope it goes to the right spots where people can actually see it and feel it.”
Like many Oklahomans, Spade has a tornado story. He said a tornado ripped the roof off his family’s house in Michigan.
“I was 4, but I remember my mom running and her hair in the wind looking for my other brother with a tornado warning,” he said.
“So even when I got to Arizona, I was scared of tornadoes, even though it was just thunder and lightning. I kept saying, ‘This is tornado weather,’ and scared the crap out of everyone. It wasn’t. We never had a tornado (in Arizona), but it scarred me. When they sent us a picture of the house with the roof taken off, right after we moved, that really capped it. Tornadoes are scary. I’m not in tornado alley. And the people that are in them ... know they can come at any time. We’ve got it bad enough here (on the West Coast) with the wildfires and the frickin’ tarantulas and scorpions. Every place has things that scare you.”
Spade isn’t returning to Oklahoma to scare you. He’s returning to make you laugh. He said he likes to go to places he hasn’t been and places he hasn’t frequented. Tulsa fits the description. Spade, who joked that he probably has five new bits in his act since he performed at Jokers Comedy Club in the 1980s, took part in a Q-and-A in advance of his Hard Rock show.
You’ve been in many TV and movie projects, but is the reason you continue to tour heavily with stand-up comedy because it’s just in your blood?
It is, and it got me to where I am. It was the icebreaker that got me on TV for the first time. It got me on “Saturday Night Live.” It’s still very hard to do. It’s still very hard to compete and be relevant and keep the act moving to where people still laugh. It’s just a good challenge for me. It’s a wake-up call. When I go on there and I’m going on stage, whether it’s a tiny crowd or this one, which feels like a bigger one, I’ve got to try hard. I go to the Comedy Store and practice because these people are paying, unless they are high rollers and then they get to go wherever they want, but overall, I love it still. It’s great. I will always do stand-up, I think.
You were in the “8 Simple Rules” cast with an Oklahoman, James Garner. What’s your best story about him?
You can tell (he’s from Oklahoma) because he’s a good old boy and he’s very polite and very humble and, for being a superstar I grew up with, he was the coolest. And I think that shows and reflects nicely on Oklahoma that he came out to crazy Hollywood with all these show biz phonies like myself and managed to keep his feet on the ground and be a cool dude. We did that show together for two years and he was so cool.
I don’t assume everyone who has ever been on SNL knows each other, but have you had any interactions with Tulsa’s Bill Hader?
I think he’s great. I mix up his name with Will Forte. I don’t know why. One syllable, then two syllables. Hader. Forte. But he has always been funny, and his show “Barry” is such a clever, odd, well-put-together thing. I am jealous of it.
Here’s one more Oklahoma question before we move on to other things. Sam Kinison is buried here. Do you have a Kinison story?
I didn’t know him well, but I did run across him. I loved his stuff when he got on that HBO Young Comedians Special. I was watching comics sort of mumble their act and he starts screaming and stuff. And he was saying dirty things that made me and my buddies laugh so hard.
I was playing a club in Arizona sort of like Jokers, a small nightclub, and they had comedy all week. I think I came in one night or just opened for him one night when I was just starting. And he asked if I could drive him back to the hotel or the condo where they put him up at, so I drove him in my ‘72 Volvo and we went to Safeway and got a case of Heineken.
Then he had some other party favors, which shall remain nameless, and poured that on the table and he said “You want any?” And I go, “No.” And he said, “OK, you can stay all night.” He and his friend went to town on that and I sat there and tried to just hear him say funny things all night.
I was a huge fan and, according to your age and where you are in show business, there are some people you actually get to run across and they leave a mark. Kinison is one and Kurt Cobain when he came on SNL. We all had dinner one night at the mess tent before the show. All that stuff sticks a later. You don’t think a lot of it at the time, but later you go, oh, right, I got to hang out with Kurt Cobain.
What’s your Mount Rushmore of projects you are most proud to be in?
It’s got to be “Tommy Boy” and “Joe Dirt” and “SNL.” And then my first stand-up special. Stand-up has got to be in there somewhere. “Take the Hit” because that was my first HBO special, and it really meant the world to me. Tough question.
One of my favorite SNL bits came when you and Teri Hatcher pretended to be each other during a “Spade in America” sketch. Story behind the sketch?
I thought she was cute, and I was trying to think of something she could do on the show. And then we did a little switcheroo. I think the first draft was too dirty. But we played each other. I wore a wig and played her and made fun of her. She played me and made fun of me. And she was big on “Lois & Clark” at the time. It was great. We had a great time, and we stayed friends after that. That was one of those (instances), like getting a tattoo from Sean Penn. There are a lot of those SNL moments that blur by in a week and then you think about them years later and they were a lot of fun.
You have an amazing Twitter ratio. You have 2.7 million followers and follow only 33. That’s great management.
You know what that is? It’s just because ... it’s too confusing (to follow more). That’s why people get so crazy and ADD because how can you follow 2,000 people. You are scrolling up and nothing sticks, so I try to think of people I actually know or I actually might want to hear what they have to say and try to retain it. ... It’s hard because people stand right in front of me and say ‘Are you going to follow me?’ And I go ‘Yeah, I will in a little bit.’ Or they take your phone — let me see your phone for a second — and then they look up their (Twitter account) and follow it on your phone. What?
One of the 33 accounts you follow is the Arizona Cardinals. Are you OK with the new coaching hire?
I follow the Cardinals mostly during the season, just with high hopes. You know, it’s tough. I’m from Arizona, so when I want to like the Rams, they go, “You are from Arizona.” Well, I have actually been in L.A. longer, but it’s hard to jump on a team. I have a special spot for the Cardinals and they never quite get there. It’s just tough. I feel worse for Larry Fitzgerald. He is so great and they can’t get it going over there. It’s just hard. But they might give Josh Rosen that Jared Goff first year. Give him the summer. When you come in as a rookie, it must be unbelievable. Everyone is bigger and faster and tougher and talking crap and you are getting your butt kicked and you are like wait, wait, wait. Please let me go back to college. I don’t think they even have any idea (how talented the other NFL players are). The best person in college is as good as every single pro. It’s too hard. It’s like when I went to SNL. I was a pretty good comedian. I’m at SNL and I’m like, oh my god, I skipped college and went to the pros. It’s too much.