David Spade once refused a David Bowie request to swap roles for a proposed Saturday Night Live sketch.
Spade, who was a writer and cast member on the NBC series from 1990 to 1996, made the Bowie revelation on a recent episode of his “Fly on the Wall” podcast, which he cohosts with SNL alum Dana Carvey.
The sketch in question was something Spade wrote for a November 1991 episode hosted by Macaulay Culkin, with Bowie and Tin Machine as the musical guest.
Spade was set to portray a snooty receptionist that “stops you because he thinks they’re better than you.” As Spade envisoned it, Bowie was to play himself.
After the pitch meeting where the concept was discussed, Spade received a message to call Bowie at his hotel.
“I called him and he answers and it’s fucking Bowie,” he said. “And he’s like, ‘This [sketch] is so fucking funny. This is exactly my life and these people I see.’ And he goes, ‘One tweak: Can I play the receptionist?”
The rock star admitted, “That’s the funnier part.’”
There was some back and forth. Bowie argued that playing himself was “kind of boring” since “everyone’s seen that.”
But Spade dug in his heels, telling Bowie he was hoping it would turn into a recurring character.
Bowie was persistent. “Well, what if the sketch never gets on?”
“I’m like, ‘God, how do you know this show this well? It’s so true. What if it doesn’t get on? I’m fucking blowing it. He’s like, ‘It’ll get on if I do it.’”
Ultimately, although Bowie said, “playing myself isn’t that fun,” Spade kept the part of the receptionist.
Unfortunately, the sketch didn’t get on. Worse, Spade did not appear in anything else for that show.
Bowie didn’t carry a grudge. Spade said during the goodbye, Bowie came up and made amends.
“Hey, sorry, man … I get what was going on and I shouldn’t have been like a little chilly about it.”