There aren’t many people who would have the guts to turn down an international superstar like David Bowie, but actor David Spade isn’t like most people. In a recent episode of the Fly on the Wall podcast, co-hosted by Spade and Dana Carvey, the Saturday Night Live alumni discussed an episode of the sketch comedy show where Bowie requested to switch roles with Spade, who subsequently told the rockstar no. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spade’s refusal of someone so iconic might have ended up biting him in the butt.
During his time on Saturday Night Live, David Spade refused to swap roles with David Bowie for a skit written by the comedian.
Thinking back to an SNL episode in November of 1991, David Spade recalled how he was writing sketches and wanted to include David Bowie, who was scheduled to be the musical guest that coming weekend. One sketch involved Spade portraying an overbearing receptionist who embodied the classic archetype of someone who believes they’re superior to others. Spade had originally envisioned Bowie making a cameo appearance as himself in the sketch.
As David Spade recalled the story, he reminisced about how astonished he was after pitching his sketch that he received a message asking him to call David Bowie at his hotel. As it turned out, Bowie had somehow heard about the skit and found it delightful funny, though he had one change request—Bowie wanted to play the receptionist and Spade to portray Bowie.
Bowie told Spade about how the sketch reminded him of many real-life encounters he’d experienced and how he thought that playing the receptionist would be way more fun than portraying himself—something he’d been asked to do a lot and was tired of—and that it would offer a fresh comedic angle.
David Spade envisioned the sketch’s secretary becoming a recurring character, which would be impossible if the part was played by David Bowie.
However, while David Spade could see where David Bowie was coming from, the SNL actor wanted the receptionist to become a recurring character, something that wouldn’t happen if Bowie portrayed the character as a guest on the show. So, Spade turned down Bowie’s swap request, marveling at his own audacity for saying no to the iconic musician. Despite Bowie’s persistence and his suggestion that the sketch’s success hinged on his involvement, Spade remained steadfast in his vision.
During the podcast, David Spade insisted that the late musician was never rude during their conversation. Instead, David Bowie candidly expressed his view that playing himself might not be as entertaining. It was a genuine exchange between two creative minds navigating the nuances of comedic storytelling.
David Spade went from a sketch wtih David Bowie, to being mysteriously absent during the entire episode featuring the singer.
However, in the end, it didn’t matter that David Spade had stuck to his guns because the skit never got picked up. Additionally, Spade was cut from the entire episode’s sketches. While David Bowie didn’t seem to show any animosity toward Spade, the SNL actor’s absence from that week’s show remained suspicious.
As the episode drew to a close during the customary goodnight segment, David Bowie approached David Spade and extended an apology for any chilliness that may have come across during their earlier exchange. And that was the end of the story. David Spade remained a writer and a cast member on SNL until 1996 and has since carried on a robust career as a comedian in Hollywood.