SNL‘s history is full of infamous celebrity feuds, but Eddie Murphy and David Spade round out one of the show’s most talked even decades after both have left the show.
In David’s new memoir, Almost Interesting, the comedian details the circumstances that led him to inflame the wrath of Eddie. In the book, Spade describes himself as a struggling cast member of the skit show desperate for the approval of his bosses — which meant doing just about anything for laughs. David recalls being especially frustrated at the time when other cast members like Adam Sandler were able to hit big with audiences without nearly as much effort. He wanted to to live up what his former SNL heroes, like Murphy, were able to accomplish.
“Now we come to the infamous Eddie Murphy Hollywood Minute… One week I was writing my dopey Hollywood Minute, my bread and butter and basically the only thing keeping me from going back out on the road doing shows at the Gut Busters in Omaha or working in the skateboard shop. I was sort of addicted to doing them because it was the only thing keeping me in front of the camera.”
Finally, David secured a consistently well-received segment with Hollywood Minute, where he’d take shots at celebrities that he said were either friends of his or people he genuinely “felt they deserved it.” Still, Spade says his joke sometimes went too far with celebrities that were too beloved by audiences. A jab at Jim Carrey’s overacting, for instance, was cut before rehearsals after receiving a bad test. Perhaps a similar cut might have avoided the situation with Eddie.
“I realized that Murphy had put out two back-to-back flops. (By the way, there couldn’t be a harsher word to hit your ear when you’re an actor than flop. It’s brutal. Short, harsh, and to the point. The past tense is even worse, as in ‘I heard your movie F***ING FLOPPED!’ So awful, and I should know. I’ve heard it a lot. That and bombed. But I hate flop more.)… So, I casually write a joke about Eddie for my piece that week. You know the line. ‘Look, kids, a falling star! Quick, make a wish…’
While the joke about Eddie didn’t exactly get a rave laugh from the audience, David didn’t think he’d be hearing about it again later — particularly from the target. Yet that Monday, Spade received a series of calls from Murphy that escalated into threats to come to the NBC studios if David continued to refuse to speak to him. After pulling his friend Chris Rock on the line for support, Eddie obliterated Spade, who tore down not only his career but his lack of respect for SNL alumni.
“Now here comes Murphy… ‘David Spade, who the f**k do you think you are?!! Honestly? Who. The. F**k. Going after ME?? You dumb m**********r! I’m off-limits, don’t you know that? You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me. Talking s**t about me??’ Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… on and on and on and making me feel like s**t’… Here was one of my favorite comedians of all time ripping me a new a*****e.”
David writes that the feud lasted for several years, with enough frequency that mutual friend Chris was constantly joking that Eddie still had it out for him. In fact, the sight of Murphy still put Spade on edge when he crossed paths with him at the opening of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel in 1995. David was so nervous that Brad Pitt asked him what was making him so uncomfortable and subsequently offered to protect him after Spade explained the situation.
David continued to be concerned about bad blood with Eddie until 2011, when an interview with Rolling Stone found the comedian revisiting the moment and casting more blame on the SNL team as a whole than just Spade himself. Shortly afterward, David saw Murphy driving through Beverly Hills.
“Eddie had spotted me through the windshield. Maybe he thought I was Miley Cyrus. Either way, for some reason I gave a half wave and quick nod. It was my equivalent of the white flag. This can be a risky move if it goes unreciprocated. Then I heard the sound of a window going down. Once again, I was paralyzed by doubt. Do I look? I looked. Murphy stopped in the middle of the street and I walked over. Through the open passenger window he said, ‘Hey, Spade, how are you doing?'”
You can read the full excerpt of the Eddie Murphy feud on Salon or wait for David Spade’s new memoir, Almost Interesting, out Oct. 27.
[Image via Jason Merritt and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]