Before he broke out in stand-up, on “Saturday Night Live” and in movies like “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep,” David Spade attempted to join the ranks of Aspen ski bums.
When Spade was in high school, his older brother and two friends did a few winter tours of duty working on the mountains and in a ski shop downtown. When Spade graduated in 1982, he attempted to follow them and live the dream in Aspen.
It didn’t go so well, he recalled in a phone interview this week.
He and a friend tried to hitchhike here from San Diego, failed, called Dial-a-Ride (“it was like the Uber of its time”) and eventually rolled into town.
The pair briefly got a gig installing sprinklers, lost that job, then tried to scrape together some cash as strippers through the Strip-O-Gram service.
“Obviously, this was back when I was more ripped,” Spade said. “He was actually ripped. So I was just like, ‘Well, I’ll just tag along.’ That didn’t work, shockingly, so we had to go home.”
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His buddy’s dad bought a plane ticket home for his kid, but Spade had to hitchhike.
“It was scary,” he said. “I was 17. I had my white Lacoste alligator shirt on and Quiksilver shorts. It was raining and I was like, ‘I’ll for sure be found in a wood chipper somewhere.'”
Spade survived the ordeal, of course, and made it back to California to launch his comedy career. His later stops in Aspen have been cushier.
“Since then I got a little richer,” he said. “So I could go back and ski.”
Most recently, Spade swung through town with Adam Sandler in February to play Belly Up Aspen. He returns to headline the club for two stand-up shows Saturday night.
Spade is between movie shoots and in the early stages of playing a role on the new ABC sitcom “The Mayor” — premiering in October, it’s about a rapper who runs for mayor to as a publicity stunt promoting a mixtape and ends up winning, unseating Spade’s mayor character — so he’s picking up some stand-up gigs (the brief Colorado tour also includes a stop at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek).
These days, Spade is bringing his signature snark and sarcasm to topics like dating, aging, navigating Instagram and such.
“I don’t get political,” he said. “That’s one thing I don’t do.”
He’s never been a political comedian, but in the bizarre and bitter early Trump era he’s particularly uninterested in the topic. Spade said he is seeing too many comics get sucked into hacky Trump bashing and succumbing to pressure to use their acts in service of the #resistance.
“It’s getting into a corny area,” he said. “You can get up at the Comedy Store and say, ‘Trump! What about this guy?’ and you get laughter and applause. It’s just too easy. It’s better to think of stuff that’s a little harder to attract laughs with. There are talk show hosts devoting their entire lives to it, like Stephen Colbert.”
In a setting like his alma mater “Saturday Night Live,” where there’s a decades-long tradition of political satire, he reasoned, it makes perfect sense to load up on Trump sketches. But he’s bored by the glut of Trump stand-up.
“If you’re a political comedian, I think it’s ballsier to say that you’re for Trump and then try to get laughs,” he said.
Along with the new sitcom and summer stand-up sets, Spade is at work on a new audiobook. His 2015 memoir, “Almost Interesting,” did particularly well on audio, so he’s following it up with an audio-only title about “how I’m out of it now.”
“It’s about how everything is changing and my generation is starting to get out of touch,” the 52-year-old said. “Like, I used to play the guy in the show. And now I’m the guy’s dad. Things are changing just enough that I can talk about what it was like then and what it’s like now. It’s enough to do a nice wispy book with about three punchlines.”
Spade said he’s never listened to a podcast, but otherwise he’s been pretty good at navigating the rapidly changing comedy scene (he concedes he’ll probably be hosting a podcast like everybody else before too long). Spade has taken a liking to Instagram stories and tries to go where his audience is going. He’s surprised by how easily comics and performers can be forgotten these days if they don’t.
“You blink and it’s been five years and nobody knows who Chris Farley is,” he said. “I talk to girls and I’m like, ‘You don’t know who Led Zeppelin is?’ and they’re like, ‘I don’t know who Maroon 5 is, dude. You’re old, understand? Is there a problem?’ And I’m like, ‘No, all good. Order your sushi.'”
If You Go …
Who: David Spade
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Aug. 12, 7 & 10:30 p.m.
How much: $70-$195
Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com