It's a sunny Southern California afternoon, and David Spade is wearing a really bad wig.
"I've worn it around to lunch and stuff," he laughs, looking up at a hairdo that would make Donald Trump cringe. "It's turning heads, but people don't know me, they ask me if David Spade is in the movie."
Spade is indeed starring in "The Benchwarmers," a sports movie with an unlikely cast that includes fellow non-athletes Rob Schneider and Jon "Napoleon Dynamite" Heder.
Produced by Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, the comedy -- which is currently being filmed and due in theaters in April -- tells the story of a group of guys who get revenge for their pine-riding days of youth by pitting their full-grown selves against Little League baseball squads. With a premise like that, it seems, Spade won't need the wig to make us laugh.
"I play a guy who hasn't played baseball in 20 years," Schneider explains. "[He] sees some bullies picking on these kids who should be allowed to play baseball, kicking them off the baseball field. So we step in and we challenge them to a game, David Spade, Jon Heder and I, and we kick their butts. Their hairless butts."
The games between these adult losers and their mean-spirited youngster counterparts are hilarious, Heder says, but they also offer words of encouragement to those who cower in the corner of the locker room.
"Just keep up the good work, keep going to gym class," says the overnight sensation who will lose his look, but not his dorky sensibility, for the film. "I know a lot of kids say they hate high school, but you know, when you look back on it ... shooting a movie like 'Napoleon Dynamite' you realize, you know what, it had its bad parts but it's still part of life, and so is gym class, and so are those short shorts. Just remember, everybody else in your class feels just as stupid as you."
Such stupidity will someday be behind you, but as these four funnymen are willing to admit, looking back on your own lackluster sports memories is always good for a laugh.
"It goes back to ... the '70s, when I was a young ballplayer playing for Pacifica Lumber," Schneider recalls. "I was trying to steal second base. And I don't know if I got a late jump ... I just remember the coach yelling, 'Schneider, you're slow as a truck!' You could hear it echo through the canyon: 'Schneider you're slow as a truck!' Boy, that was not encouraging; I didn't play a lot for ... Pacifica Lumber. It was some tough times ... if you're out there, coach, you suck. The big one. But I'm over it. I think."
"Sophomore year of high school, I was on the swim team," Heder says, telling his own bench-warming story. "The swim team was naturally the only sport I could join and just automatically get on varsity because I was old enough, not because I was skilled enough. I had some amazing thighs, because I used to do some biking and I could swim pretty fast. ... Instead of being a benchwarmer, you're the 500 yard swimmer, which is the super-long-distance event. Nobody wants to do it because most of the time you barf at the end -- you're basically swimming 20 laps of the pool. I remember one of the last district finals we had. I got up there, I had my silly little Speedos on, my cap and my goggles. ... I jumped in and my goggles got hooked around my neck.
"When you're in a race and you're heart's pumping, you don't really want to take the time to grab those goggles, dump the water out of them, put them on right and make sure the suction's on," Heder continues. "I'm like, 'Crap.' In the 500, because you have to swim so many laps, they have someone at the other end of the pool with numbers that they put down to show how many laps you have left. So every single time you do your quick kick when you come back, you see that number. Nineteen left to go; 17 left to go ... when you have two laps left to go, they pop down a big orange square so that you just see, well, this is the last lap I have to go.
"With the goggles off the entire 20 laps, all I saw was blurred numbers ... I had no idea how to pace myself. I saw the orange square and was like, 'Finally, yes!' I swam back in and it was actually the best time I got. ... It still wasn't as good as the female squad; they still kicked my butt. Actually, the one and only girl I had in high school was on the team, and she kicked my butt. So how lame is that? Gosh, I'm gonna kill her!"
"When I was in high school, I was more of a smart kid," Spade chuckles. "Chess champ; I don't like to talk about it. Went to state finals, but I got the measles [and] rubella and had to drop out. I was jump-rope champ and spelling bee champ. Anyway, I decided to go out for football ... and I was like that movie 'Lucas,' where the guy's too small to go out for football ... I weighed 114. I went out there and got cremated.
"One practice -- that's all I did, one practice. And I got beat up so much -- they said I could dress in the uniform and sit on the bench and watch the games. I was like, 'Isn't that a little G-A-Y?' So I said, 'No, thanks anyway.' But I showed them -- I went out for gymnastics: parallel bars, rings, horse; I got a 7.4 on the parallel bars that year, and the whole school was buzzing about it. And then I did a back flip and I hurt my neck. So that's my story. ... The moral is: If you're cool, you're cool. And if you're me, just be happy with not being cool."
And, of course, get yourself a really bad wig so nobody will recognize you.
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