Would you go on a reality show called Backseat Justice, where people ride along with real cops? What about Siamese Survival, which physically attaches you to a stranger and drops you in the wild? Too bad, because neither show is real — they’re both products of David Spade‘s new prank series Fameless, which premieres on TruTV on Wednesday. The series pranks unassuming people who think they’re on actual reality shows. We talked to David Spade about the real show, the fake shows, and how the Kardashians changed our concept of fame.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After having watched the first episode, some of the people on the show seem really desperate to be on TV. Where do you get them from?
DAVID SPADE: We’re finding people that already want to be famous. They’ve already done the screening for other reality shows, so they’re people who applied for other shows and done the psych evaluations and all that. They don’t even want to be specifically on, like The Bachelor or whatever. They don’t care, they’re just, like, “Put me on a show!” So we take them and, say, put them in a box in a park and tell them, “You have to live there for 30 days. That’s the show — it’s called Solo Time.” They’re like, “Wait … what?” [Laughs] We just make up stupid names. It’s so close to real, they don’t f—ing know. It would sound mean if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re so thirsty. In fact, I actually said we should call the show You’re So Thirsty, or even Cringe Time.
What are some of the fake shows we can look forward to?
The second episode has Ben Silverman, Michael Bolton, and Gina Gershon in it for a show we call Pitch S—. So we get these people who think they’re getting to pitch a movie to these Hollywood bigwigs. But the panel, just like in a real Hollywood pitch meeting, slowly starts turning their movie into a whole different movie. They’ll pitch a movie that’s all about horses, and Gina Gershon will say, “Hmm … could it be about dogs?” They say okay, and then someone else goes, “Can we throw in a shark, too?” You know they spent years on this idea, and they’re just like, “Sure!” It’s ridiculous. But it’s based on actual pitch meetings. [Laughs] At one point, Michael Bolton breaks out into song to suggest a theme song for the movie.
It seems like one of the most fun aspects is coming up with the fake show titles.
Oh, yeah. There are so many types of reality shows. We have one called Hillbilly Handfishing. There’s a food show called What’s in My Mouth? We have a real chef in that one, too.
And they never get suspicious?
Our producer has a worked on a lot of reality shows, and they screen so many people that there are always too many leftovers. They have such big personalities, but there just isn’t a place for them. So when we were coming up with ideas for shows, we thought, let’s do something with them, because they’re just waiting.
Has anyone ever gotten legitimately upset at you?
One guy in the first episode actually got really mad at me. I was a judge on a talent show called Talent Face Off. He says, “David Spade, you have no right to be judging a singing contest. What are you doing here?” I go, “Listen, I’m not on trial here.” And he flips out and goes, “You ruined Saturday Night Live with Eddie Murphy! You ruined it! You ruined the whole SNL 40!” I was like … what? I don’t even know why that was his angle to get mad at me, but it was pretty funny.
Do you have a favorite reality show yourself?
I have caught myself watching The Bachelor and Bachelorette. We do have a Bachelor-style fake show on Fameless. It’s called Maid for Each Other or Maid for You, something like that. It’s basically a guy who’s interviewing for a maid, but the women think it’s to be his wife. He asks them questions like “Are you reliable?” and “Are you a good worker?” They’re all like, “Yes! Yes!” And then they find out they’re his maid — that’s what they’ve won.
You’ve spent much of your comedy career zinging famous people. From your perspective, has the nature of fame changed a lot over the years?
I’m still from the old school of [fame depending on] your talent at something. Before reality shows, parents were worried their daughters in the midwest were going to move to Hollywood and try to get a job in the business and take acting classes that wouldn’t pay off. Now, with the Kardashians, you’re out in the midwest and go, “Hey, I argue with my family in the kitchen. I hate my sisters. I could do this!” That’s what it’s down to. So I’m more old school, where I like the Sean Penns and the DeNiros and Gene Hackman — people who bring something. Whether you like them or not, you see there’s some nugget of talent there. And at a certain point it’s switched, and people for a while were fighting it but now they’re given up and gone, “It’s just the new world.” Or if you’re semi-famous, the new thing is to just have a show that follows you around doing nothing.
So I guess there’d never be a reality show that follows the life of David Spade?
Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa — no one said that! [Laughs] No, I have no idea. I talked to AMC about doing a fake one that I thought would be funny, one of those Curb-type shows about my “real” life. But it’s very hard to get right. I’m smart enough to know that they’re easier said than done.