Who’s Your Daddy?

Here’s the nightmare that haunts many single men’s souls. You hook up with a woman. Some time later, she tells you she’s pregnant. Congratulations, Daddy! This happened to David Spade. But he pushes back against me calling his experience a "nightmare."

"The word ‘nightmare’ is a little harsh," he tells me. "But I know what you mean. I went out on a few dates, and you get a call," he says. "So you go along with it and make the best of it.

"Ultimately, I’ll be glad I have a daughter, because I’m not going about it (relationships that lead to fatherhood) the right way anyway. I’m not a huge marriage proponent. So this way is probably gonna wind up being a blessing in disguise."

The mother of Spade’s child is Jillian Grace, 23, Playboy’s March 2005 Playmate of the Month. She gave birth in August.

Sudden fatherhood brought up various internal issues for Spade, 44, to deal with. It disrupted every relationship in his life. He wanted to do "the right thing." He didn’t want to be a missing father like his father was.

"My dad wasn’t around when I was a kid. So all these things come into play that you are forced to deal with that you wouldn’t voluntarily deal with," Spade says.

Spade — performing this weekend, as part of his new, semiregular rotation in The Venetian showroom — insists the most important thing is not his issues but the baby’s well-being.

"The girl (Grace) lives in Missouri with the baby, and I just see the baby here and there. Twice. And I’m gonna go again in April," he says. "I will (see the child) more as it gets older. But she wanted to live in Missouri, so I just have to make a way to see it."

So far, Spade sees no way to joke about the situation in his stand-up routine.

"It’s tricky," he said. "An innocent kid’s involved."

Besides, the whole situation was "awkwardish" and "doesn’t lend itself to be very funny," at least to him.

"When the baby gets older, and I start hanging out with it, I will think of stuff that naturally happens, organically. But just the situation was tough. So to talk about that is to talk about something I don’t want to talk about anyway."

FOR THE TROOPS

In other serious Spade news, he has donated $100,000 to a group called Operation Helmet, sending 3,000 better helmets to U.S. soldiers serving in the wars. Spade didn’t passively hand off money for the tax write-off.

He was getting letters from troops asking for help and saying their bulletproof vests and helmets weren’t getting the job done. Spade researched the subject and worked with Operation Helmet to provide better helmets to protect against shockwaves, bombs, brain damage and even headaches.

"The bottom line is, I realized they do a lot for me. I do nothing for them. And there’s a reason I have a nice lifestyle over here.

"It doesn’t mean I’m for or against the war," he says. "There are a million charities. There’s no shortage of people who need help. Just, now and then, something hits you."

‘SHOWBIZ PHONY’

It’s a little strange talking with Spade about these heavy topics, because he’s a stand-up and a comedic actor who frequently makes light of himself.

Recently, he gave interviews that resulted in these headlines: "David Spade: ‘I’m Happy Being a Phony’ " (Parade Magazine), and "David Spade: ‘I’m Just A Moron’ " (CBS News).

Spade didn’t see those headlines, so I recited them to him. He laughed.

"I’m a showbiz phony all the way," he jokes. "I say those things in semijest. But it sounds like I’ve got a lot of problems. I think it ultimately means I don’t take all this too seriously. It kind of is very fleeting, this showbiz stuff. So you can’t get very excited about yourself. I want to. It’s just hard to.

"I am a moron, though. I’m not gonna fight ya on that one."

He gave the interview to CBS while promoting his CBS sitcom, "Rules of Engagement," in which he once again plays a single guy on the prowl. Adam Sandler co-produces "Rules" and signed up Spade for the sitcom.

Later this year, Spade goes on a movie set to portray a similar role for an upcoming Sandler movie, co-starring Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock and Maya Rudolph.

Spade is grateful for all the work Sandler’s throwing his way. But he doesn’t know if he can portray a "skirt chaser" the rest of his career.

"I can’t play the womanizer forever. And I’ll be playing it again in Sandler’s movie. And then I gotta slow down," he says.

"I’m the only one not married in the movie. Which drives me crazy. I’m like, ‘Sandler, come on. Let’s make me normal, someway, somehow.’ "

What do you think? Tell me at delfman@reviewjournal.com, or post your reviews and rants at reviewjournal.com/elfman. My column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

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