Jon Lovitz Says He and David Spade Weren't Ready to Be Friends Until Recently After Both Experiencing Tragedies (Exclusive)

The comedian tells PEOPLE why he and Spade grew closer decades after starring on ‘Saturday Night Live’

<p>Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Jesse Grant/Getty Images</p> Jon Lovitz and David Spade.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Jon Lovitz and David Spade.

Although Jon Lovitz and David Spade have known each other for decades, it wasn’t until recently that the two comedians became close friends.

At the 50th anniversary: Saturday Night Live panel in celebration of The Groundlings improv theater on June 28, Lovitz, 66, told PEOPLE about on his time on NBC sketch comedy show from 1985 to 1990.

“I got Saturday Night Live in '85, and then '86, they kept Nora Dunn, Dennis Miller, and myself,” he explained. “Then that's when Dana [Carvey] came in, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Janet Hooks and Victoria Jackson. So, I was in the show with Dana for four years, and we became like brothers. He's one of my best friends."

Lovitz also considered Hartman his “best friend,” so when he was tragically murdered in 1998 at age 49, the comedian was devastated. Spade, 59, for his part, was also saddened by the unexpected death of his close friend Chris Farley, who died in 1998 at age 33 from an accidental drug overdose.

Related: Maya Rudolph Jokes She 'Never Left' Saturday Night Live as She Emerges from On-Set Closet to Host

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty Images</p> Jon Lovitz and David Spade in Los Angeles, California in April 2003.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jon Lovitz and David Spade in Los Angeles, California in April 2003.

“I said [to David], ‘Well, maybe we could become friends, because we're both missing our other half … our best friends,’” Lovitz recalled. “[David] goes, 'yeah.' But I think because it was hard for me, it took a while, and then, one day, I played golf — and we were playing golf — and I could just tell one day, I don't know what happened. I just knew in his mind that, ‘okay.’”

Elsewhere in the interview with PEOPLE, the comedian discussed some sage career advice he received from the late Charles Grodin about performing on SNL. Grodin — who died in May 2021 at age 86 — hosted an episode of the popular sketch comedy show in 1977.

“He goes, ‘You can't be timid on the show, because the characters, you got to really commit,’” Lovitz explained, adding, “[Lorne Michaels] goes, ‘When you're out there, take charge.’”

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“That sets up a certain mentality. I knew what he meant, because otherwise you're kind of waiting. You're looking for somebody to tell you, okay, [take] the lead,” Lovitz continued. “He goes, ‘No, when you're on the show, you're in charge. Take charge of the sketch. Take charge of the character.’ You know what I mean? It's a certain mentality that's very helpful.”

Friday's SNL reunion panel is one of many events that will bring together comedy’s biggest giants and Groundlings alumni to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the improv theater.

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Read the original article on People.