David Spade Has Thoughts On Cancel Culture, The Chris Rock Slap And How Much Comedy Has Changed

David Spade on Comedy Central Stand-Up
(Image credit: Comedy Central)

As a close friend and former SNL co-star of Chris Rock, a stand-up comedian with plenty of crowd interaction experience and a former awards show host, David Spade is in a unique position to speak on the Will Smith slap at the Oscars. He defended his buddy in the aftermath of the original assault, and now, he’s offered up some additional, extremely thoughtful comments about what happened and how much comedy has changed.

Appearing as a guest on Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, David Spade was asked about his views on doing comedy in the age of cancel culture. He said he’s not typically one who “starts a lot of shit” in his stand-up, but he pointed to guys like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr who really push the boundaries. According to him, that was “really the idea” when he first started doing comedy. You wanted “to push it a little bit” to get people laughing, but nowadays, some people want to tear comedians down if they’re offended when most of the time “there’s no malice” behind the joke. Here’s a portion of his thoughts…

That was really the idea when I got in. You want to push it a little bit. You want to get people laughing. You want to hit them with the element of surprise…When people want to come in and stop (jokes) and not even say ‘don’t do it’ but ruin your life. It’s very hard for me to understand that people would want to do that to other people. I know you get offended. I know you’re hurt, but really taking people down? There’s some thirst for it and it’s hard because people have families and lives. In the comedy world, you’re really ultimately, there’s no malice behind it. You’re just trying to get a laugh. So if you’re saying something, it doesn’t even mean you mean it. You’re not like screaming it at a protest “this is what I really believe.” Hey, I’m saying this because you don’t think I’ll say it. And it’s funny and then we all laugh.

Obviously, his answer is speaking broadly about society and how much people and perceptions have changed since he first started doing stand-up in the 1980s, but it’s also addressing what happened with Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars because he didn’t like his joke about his wife too. That came up broadly and more directly during the podcast conversation. Spade said he likes how quiet Rock has been about the whole thing and said he thinks he doesn’t want to talk about it much publicly because he doesn’t want to feel like he’s “ratting someone out.” 

Of course it wouldn’t be a conversation about cancel culture, however, without Spade pushing the envelope himself and making a risky joke too. During the chat, the longtime actor mused that it would really “help” Rock if there was a more famous slapping incident. He singled out The Royal Family as a possible option…

We were watching this Kate Middleton Jubilee with the Royal Family. Her kid is like three, being kind of a dick, making faces and I thought, ‘It would help Chris so much if she slapped the kid.’ Because on National TV that would be the slap heard round the world and it would take his and be second now. Because his is the one everyone remembers. Just get that off the books.

As of press time, there haven’t yet been any other high profile slaps to deflect some of the heat off Chris Rock. The Queen’s Jubilee went off without any major hitches, or at least any high-profile acts of violence among the Royals. Thankfully for Rock, however, the chaos seems to be dying down, and now that Smith officially apologized on record, it may slowly fade away until it’s simply one of a thousand wild Hollywood stories that gets referenced now and again.

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