David Spade does not like to get pranked, punked or hidden camera’d in way. He got “Punk’d” once, by Ashton Kutcher but the episode never aired. “I think I was a baby about it,” Spade admitted to us in a recent interview about his new series, Fameless. “I think I said don’t do it, and Ashton was like ‘oh no, really!?'” Spade readily agreed it was all on him. “I’m too much of an asshole, I can’t look like a fucking dipshit. But it was funny because it was such a surreal thing when every single person at this restaurant was in on it. It really weirded me out! Holy shit so everyone here is faking it? It was like the Truman Show!”
So it might seem weird that now David Spade has his own prank show on truTV, and it’s one of the cringiest in a field of cringy programming. The premise for David Spade’s prank show Fameless is simple. Reality Show applicants who didn’t get cast, who don’t have any specific talent but aspire to be super famous anyway are recruited for Spade’s show. They’re told they are being cast in a reality show with a silly fake name, and then they are brutally, and mercilessly pranked. This is not candid camera. “Fameless” takes you right to the edge where you think, oh God I please just tell this person they are being pranked already before someone gets punched. If you are a person prone to anxiety, trust us, find another show to watch, or at least skip the episode where the guy in the kangaroo costume thinks he’s about to get locked up in the mental institution he just delivered a singing telegram to. It’s uncomfortable. The series debuted last summer and was so successful that truTV immediately ordered a season two and didn’t wait for summer to air it. Season two is airing now, and it’s full of celebrities and uncomfortable moments and the opportunity to laugh at aspiring reality stars.
Whatever your prior impressions of Spade are, whatever you think his reputation is, throw that out the window. The truth is, Spade told us he has a tough time being mean to people on the show, and doesn’t even like to be there while the pranks are happening. “It gives me anxiety and cringe, I can’t– I’m literally the worst person to do a show like this,” he said, “because I feel too much for everyone, and every time they go, ‘you’ve got to do one‘ I go, ‘I can not.’ You can’t get me in front of people. (laughs) Because every time it’s happening– I start to freak out.”
Spade’s role on the show is coming up with the concepts, funny angles for how to pull off the prank, and choosing what kinds of reality shows to parody in their shows within the show, but so far he’s stayed away from being a part of any of the pranks.
What helps, for Spade, is the fact that the people getting pranked on Fameless, have already signed on to be on other reality shows. “I don’t want to come off straight mean,” he said, “just pranking regular people.” He wouldn’t have been comfortable pranking people who were trying to be actors, for example. “So, if they come out here to act and you’re shitting on them thats horrible, cause we’re all in the same boat there, just struggling.” The people getting pranked on “Fameless” are different according to Spade. “They’re just saying I’m the Greatest! Are you though?”
Spade explained, “they don’t care what reality show- it could be “Bachelor”– it’s not even acting, they just want to be famous in their town,” he said, adding “They’ve already done videos, they’re in a line to be in a reality show, so they’re like please, please put me on. I’m so talented and so great, and they do these crazy auditions,” Spade said. “I said we should show clips of that just so people don’t think it’s so mean. Because they’re sort of asking for it in a weird way.”
It may still sound mean, but he does have somewhat of a point. The contestants may not have agreed to go on “Fameless”, but they have agreed to Spade’s “fake” reality shows. Shows with names like “What’s in My Mouth”, “Love Swing”, “Man Mudd” “Pitch Fit” or “Flip My Whip” and many of them have even agreed to be on prank shows, but think they’ve signed on to be the prank-er. Like the poor unfortunate guy who signed up to prank Jay Leno as the host of fictional reality show “Star Zappers” only to become the subject of the prank himself. In the episode, he gets tricked into thinking that during the course of the prank, he actually wrecks Leno’s wife’s car. Spade remembers watching that one live. “That was [Leno’s] wife’s car- and [Jay] goes “let me go inside for a second.” And it was like “Star Zap”– so we’re gonna “Star Zap” him. And then when Jay came out, he was going, “what the fuck is wrong with you?” And I was on the monitor going, oh my God. I didn’t know Jay could get this rough. It was scaring me and the guy was like hamena-hamena-hamena. And [Leno] goes, “are you an asshole? Do you want my wife to get in a car crash? Is this a big joke?” And he’s like “stars.. . prank….you got….” And [Leno’s] like “WHAT? WHAT?” And it was the difference between a pro on camera and then a new guy, cause that guy was floundering going heh? heh? heh? He didn’t know what to do.” Spade says even after the ‘victims’ learn they were pranked, they’re still pretty happy to just be on television, so there’s no real harm.
Spade does watch some reality television himself- not reality competition series like “Last Comic Standing” so much. He’s more of a “Bachelor” kind of guy. “Bachelor is an old stand by because it’s so ripe for the picking. I wish I could just film myself watching it and talking the whole time because I don’t stop talking, I can’t help it.
He’s also got a great new book out, “Almost Interesting,” where he talks about his childhood, his career, and all the people he’s met along the way. And Spade’s going on a stand up tour with fellow SNL-Alums Tim Meadows, Rob Schneider, Norm MacDonald, and Adam Sandler. “We start next week. We did a practice one last night, me Sandler and Timmy did a surprise show but we’re doing these big theaters and its been so great so far. We have a blast. And it is sponsored by Netflix, so maybe they’ll film it for down the road.”
Watch Fameless tonight and every Monday at 10pm and 10:30pm e/p time on truTV. Tonight, “Pitch Fit” with celebrity guest and former Spice Girl Mel B, and a rare on screen appearance from David Spade himself.