David Spade has worked his way on to the Hollywood hot list from perhaps the humblest of all beginnings - a bit part in the atrocious Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol. Before that 'breakthrough' role, however, Spade (below) had made a name for himself as one of the US stand-up comedy circuit's cheekier chaps and now he's back at it again, providing the voice of Kuzco in The Emperor's New Groove, which opens today. Spade was born on July 22, 1965, in Birmingham, Michigan, but his family soon made the move to Scottsdale, Arizona, which is the place he calls home. Things were tough for Spade early on - his father left the family and his stepfather committed suicide. The diminutive Spade says he used comedy to cope - and to protect himself from the weekly beatings he received from classmates. During his high-school years, Spade refined his stand-up routine, borrowing greatly from what he saw on Saturday Night Live (SNL). Post-high school saw Spade attend Arizona State University, where he studied business, and spent some time working behind the counter in a skateboard shop. But comedy came calling again and he worked his way up to being a regular on the American stand-up circuit. So successful were his performances that, by 1990, Spade won a spot on the SNL roster alongside fellow funnyman and would-be partner, Chris Farley. Spade's turns as an acid-tongued celebrity-baiter were a sensation - until, that is, he started to become a celebrity himself and the comments cut a little too close to home. While working on SNL, Spade also started to explore the film industry. Roles came alongside his good friend Farley in Tommy Boy (1995) and Black Sheep (1996). And while Farley's excessive lifestyle would lead to his death in 1997, Spade managed to forge ahead with roles in Senseless (1998), Lost And Found (1999) and last year's successful Loser. He has done all right for himself off-screen, too, dating Lara Flynn Boyle and Kirsty Swanson, and was in the news last year due to bizarre circumstances - his personal assistant attacked him with a stun gun, after which Spade was robbed. Through all this, Spade has remained somewhat perplexed by his good fortune. 'I'm not really cool, it's more of an optical illusion,' he says.