Two years after David Spade shot this special, his personal assistant attacked him using a stun gun, but he managed to get through the ordeal. Judge Ryan Keefer thinks that if life doesn't imitate art there, nothing does.
David Spade takes the spotlight in his first HBO stand-up special.
David Spade had created a modest fan following for his material on Saturday Night Live as he viciously skewered people on his "Hollywood Minute" segment that periodically appeared on the "Weekend Update" portion of the program and later became "Spade in America." He had just started a supporting role in the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me, where he was a mix of that character and a slight touch of his "Dick Clark receptionist" from the SNL days. Things were peaches and cream for Davey. But not really that much, all things considered. His movie partner (and close friend) Chris Farley had recently died from a drug overdose, so perhaps when HBO approached him to see if he could do a stand-up special for them, perhaps that wasn't the right time. There were several things wrong that occurred to me when I was watching Take the Hit. First:
• Spade runs through the audience at the beginning of the piece. Perhaps that's how the Phoenix comedy club, The Improv, is set up, and that the back of the club has a lot to be desired. But for someone with Spade's low-key brilliantly vicious wit, this seems like something that he didn't really care about, but it did make him look like a tool.
• The fact that the special was filmed in Phoenix is okay, but the part when Spade talks about rock bands like The Eagles and their catering to the audience, you'd think he'd be a little more aware of his surroundings. The bit is funny (and talking about R.E.M. and ridiculing Michael Stipe's misery is good) but if I'm at the Phoenix Improv in 1998, I would kind of feel a little bit insulted, you know?
• The material. Don't get me wrong, Spade's take on living in a household of divorce is funny, but some of the other material, particularly the "Spank-trovision" bit, has gone beyond tired, even for 1998. Sure, other comics may have the benefit of looking at things through a political lens to make their material a little timelier, but come on, even Bill Cosby updates his material, but not a lot of people hear about it.
Now, I don't really mean this to be a wholesale condemnation of Spade's work. I think he's funny as hell, I really do. But I think that in Take the Hit Spade just essentially phoned in a "best of" compilation without a lot of thought or care into what he was doing. He should have gone into the performance knowing that there was a solid fan base that enjoyed his work, and built on that with an above average special where he could have shot for the moon. But he took the network money on not only one but two sitcoms (he filled John Ritter's shoes in 8 Simple Rules), which is probably why he's dating Heather Locklear and which is why I'm…not.
All in all, David Spade: Take the Hit may be good for newer fans of the comic, but long-time fans of Spade's work would be better served to watch Spade on old re-runs or even his Comedy Central show The Showbiz Show where he gets free reign to skewer whomever and whatever he pleases. Otherwise, only watch this special when HBO has repeated it following Real Sex 41 or UPS Truck Confessions on its various broadcast channels.
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