NOT “ALMOST” CLASSIC. BUT ENTERTAINING NONETHELESS.
Almost Interesting-David Spade
Pros: Self-deprecating, some interesting tidbits, an enjoyable read overall.
Cons: Choppy writing style, over-emphasis on cheap humor in spots, certain aspects overdone.
I’ve been a Saturday Night Live fan most of my life. Along with George Carlin, Monty Python and The Simpsons, it was one of the crucial shapers of my sense of humor. While it’s been a long time since I watched the show on a regular basis, there’s no denying it was one of the leading institutions of American comedy.
Yet unlike other institutions like the aforementioned Simpsons or Seinfeld, it’s surprising that there have been very few books written about it. The best of those still remains 2002’s “Live From New York” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales (which was recently expanded and updated). At some point I will have to check out Tine Fey and Amy Poehler’s books. But in terms of insider takes from cast members, those have been limited.
Which makes David Spade’s 2015 memoir “Almost Interesting” all the more welcome. It doesn’t reach the level a book of this type should. But if nothing else, it’s way better than Jay Mohr’s self-pitying whinefest from about a decade ago.
While Mohr’s book was devoted strictly to his two years at SNL, Spade’s is closer to an actual memoir. He devoted the first four chapters of the 227 page book to talking about his childhood and school and college years as well as losing his virginity. From there he talks about discovering his passion and talent for comedy and how stand-up led to SNL.
The SNL chapters are what will likely draw many people to this book. Spade talks about getting hired along with Rob Schneider. Like the aforementioned Mohr, he struggled for a few years finding his groove at the venerated comic institution. But unlike Mohr, he was more successful. Also, unlike Mohr, he’s pretty self-deprecating and doesn’t fall into the indulgent whining that sank that book.
The self-deprecating aspect of the book makes it an entertaining read, even though it does get a tad obnoxious in spots. Also, there are times where Spade tend to overuse all capital letters for certain people (LORNE Michaels in one particular instance).
The tidbits that Spade reveals about SNL are entertaining as are his reflections on his late friend Chris Farley.
So, this is a fun and entertaining read. But it isn’t a classic either. In addition to the choppy writing style, He abruptly ends his discussion of the SNL years without talking about them ending. He also doesn’t talk much about his stand-up or TV/movie career post SNL. Considering that he was on a sitcom (Just Shoot Me) that lasted for several seasons, one would think that should have been included.
Overall, this book is both more and less than it could have been. It’s worth a read. But the great SNL memoir still has yet to be written.