This post is a tough one to tackle. On one hand, I want to laugh and talk about the brilliant autobiography from one of my favorite comedians and actors, David Spade. And, at the same time, I want to respectfully pay homage to one of America’s greatest designers and self-starters, Kate Spade, sister-in-law of the aforementioned comedian, who took her own life in a June 5, 2018 suicide.
Comedy and tragedy. I suppose life is simply that. The yin and the yang. The up and the down. None of us on this earth can escape bad times and sorrow, but we certainly have it within us to find the comedy and the joy. Let’s begin with the latter.
I was a college student in the 90s and spent a good number of Saturday nights watching the one and only SNL, a popular sketch comedy and variety show, with a revolving cast of characters whose sole motivation is to make people laugh. Some succeed. Some don’t. The cast from the 90s succeeded more often than not. With a stellar lineup including Adam Sandler, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Julia Sweeney, Victoria Jackson, Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider and David Spade, the show was almost always a comedic winner.
Maybe it was David Spade’s dry, understated delivery that drew me to him. Maybe it was because he was a fellow Michigander like myself. Perhaps it was the way he seemed to take the back seat behind some louder, more boisterous actors, a seemingly wallflower approach that connected with me. All of it combined put him number one in my book. That, and his follow-up projects with Chris Farley, his television snark on Just Shoot Me, and his self-centered, bratty attitude transformation as an animated Disney emperor turned llama turned emperor.
Pure comedy for me. As is his autobiography titled David Spade is Almost Interesting. A self-deprecating memoir described on the back jacket of the book as “a story about how a pipsqueak from Arizona became a pipsqueak from L.A. A twerp’s tale”.
Through this self-written memoir, David Spade reveals a lot unbelievably-true stories from his life which includes shooting many guns as an adolescent (often in the house), trapping rattlesnakes for pets after moving to Arizona, and using the $6,000 he earned from a 1987 spot in Police Academy 4 to buy a car, which was stolen an hour later. Ironically, my own car was stolen last year. As was my wallet. Which happened to be a black leather Kate Spade that I was fortunate enough to recover from the Police Station.
Spade’s candid and humorous account of his life helps to illustrate that humble beginnings and hard work are, more often than not, required to find the success in life that you seek.
Enter, Kate Spade. David’s memoir devotes a portion of his story to his older brother Andy, who met future designer and wife, Kate Spade, at Arizona State University where they were both students and worked in retail. And, who ironically developed their relationship due to a mishap with a car. A few years later, with little more than an idea and some raw talent, Andy encouraged Kate to design women’s handbags. So, she did.
Kate Spade the brand was founded in 1993 by Kate and Andy, the same year that David Spade found his own retail breakthrough in his SNL skit “The Gap Girls” along-side Adam Sandler and Chris Farley. From there, the Spades took off, each finding success in their own separate ventures.
If you’re as honest and fair as you can be, not only in business but in life, things will work out,”Kate Spade
But, as quickly as life can bring you the ups, it can also deliver the downs. In his autobiography (which I listened to the comedian narrate in audiobook format and highly recommend), David Spade recounts the day in 2001 when his own personal assistant assaulted and tried to murder him. Seriously, I had no idea.
Nor did I know that Kate Spade published her own book in 2004 simply titled Style, an upbeat and engaging book about the people and experiences from her life that inspired her. This one-hundred page personal guide written by the designer offers tips on a multitude of subjects from clothing choice and care, fashion for every season, and of course, a primer on handbags. More than ten years passed, and the Spades seemed to have settled into a good groove.
But then, the world received the heartbreaking and tragic report on June 5, 2018 that broke the news of Kate Spade’s death, a suicide, to which husband Andy stated “there was no indication and no warning”, an all-too-real account of the effects of depression and anxiety. According to his statement, “Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling,” he said.
It’s often in hindsight that we recognize the impact that one person can make on the world, no matter how big or small, and how quickly it can all change. Kate’s designs were simple, classic, unique, elegant, and made their way into millions of hearts and homes.
My heart goes out to the Spade family, and everyone out there who is battling anxiety and depression, and anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide. You are not alone. If you are thinking about suicide, or are worried about a friend or a loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for information, help, or advice.