During a mid-Nineties episode of Saturday Night Live, cast member David Spade delivered one of the sketch show’s most infamous lines with his celebrity burning “Hollywood Minute” bit. Sitting beside a picture of SNL alum Eddie Murphy, Spade cracked, “Look, children, it’s a falling star!” – a jab at the comedian’s career rut. Murphy, feeling betrayed at the insult, disassociated himself from the show for 31 years, returning for a brief appearance this February for the SNL 40 special. Now Spade has explained the backstory of this iconic feud in the forthcoming memoir Almost Interesting, an excerpt from which is available at Salon.
Spade broke down the origins of his Murphy insult, which he crafted as a comment on the actor’s two straight film flops, Harlem Nights and Vampire in Brooklyn. Spade emphasized he was encouraged by the “baiting” of the SNL cast and writing staff, who dared him “to go after certain people.”
“The burn skims by on air, gets sort of a laugh mixed with an, ‘Ooo no you di‑int’ response, and I think nothing of it,” he said. “Especially because it’s buried in the middle of 10 or 12 of these rapid-fire sizzles that come and go quickly.”
On the following Monday, Spade received several phone calls from a pissed-off Murphy. After trying to avoid the confrontation, he finally connected with the legendary comedian, whom Spade claims fired off a round of expletives: “David Spade, who the fuck do you think you are?!! Honestly? Who. The. Fuck. Going after ME?? You dumb motherfucker! I’m off-limits, don’t you know that? You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me. Talking shit about me?”
Spade wrote that he was deeply upset by the verbal assault – and not even the reassurance of his “black friend” and fellow cast member Chris Rock improved his spirits. “I barely spoke,” he said. “I just stared at Rock in disbelief. It was so much worse than I had imagined. I wanted to apologize, explain the joke, anything, but nothing came out. Here was one of my favorite comedians of all time ripping me a new asshole. I had worshipped this dude for years, knew every line of his stand-up. And now he hated me. Like, really really hated me.”
Spade explained that he’s “come to see Eddie’s point on this one,” writing, “Everybody in showbiz wants people to like them. That’s how you get fans. But when you get reamed in a sketch or online or however, that shit staaaangs. And it can add up quickly. Then before you know it you’re a punch line – just look at Vanilla Ice and 500 million others. Eddie was mad. No one had dared go after him. And he wanted it to stop there.”
Murphy explained his past bitterness in a 2011 Rolling Stone cover story, saying, “They said some shitty things. There was that David Spade sketch. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, ‘Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I’m one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are fucked up, and you guys are shitting on me?'”
But he also noted that he’d moved beyond the resentment, noting, “I don’t hate David Spade, I’m cool with him.”
Spade echoed that sentiment in the Salon piece, recalling that he bumped into Murphy in Beverly Hills “about a month after that cover story” and exchanged quick pleasantries with the comedian. “My burden was lifted,” he said. “After all those years, that stupid joke can just be that, a stupid joke. And I can go back to appreciating what a funny motherfucker he is.”
Almost Interesting is out October 27th via Dey Street Books.