The Sandman, as the 56-year-old comedian is nicknamed, is frequently referred to as one of “nicest guys in Hollywood.” Known for their goofy, juvenile nature, his movies have collectively grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, according to a news release from the Kennedy Center. The announcement raises one vital question: Will Sandler wear a suit to the ceremony, or will he stick to his oversize polos and basketball shorts? (Good money is on the latter, as when his performance in “Uncut Gems” was snubbed by the Academy in 2020, he tweeted, “Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the Academy. Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits.”)
Sandler left SNL in 1995 as his film career was taking off with such movies as “Billy Madison” (1995), “Happy Gilmore” (1996) and “The Wedding Singer” (1998). He founded his own production company, Happy Madison Productions, in 1999, which has produced most of his films since, along with a number of other projects.
Despite his tremendous box office success, Sandler has rarely impressed critics throughout the three-plus decades he’s been in show business — and he knows it. In 2018, he released a stand-up special cheekily named “100% Fresh,” a reference to the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which calculates a percentage of positive reviews a particular work receives. In an amusing twist, the special actually received a 90% “fresh” rating, ranking it among Sandler’s most lauded work.
Occasionally, Sandler will delight said critics by taking a short break from his broad comedies to turn in a stunning dramatic performance for an auteur director, such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s ″Punch-Drunk Love” (2002), Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” (2009), Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” (2017), and Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems” (2019). After winning best male lead at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for his role in the Safdie brothers’ movie as the gambling-addicted jeweler Howard Ratner, he used his speech to joke about not receiving an Oscar nod — and he quipped that he’d “like to also give a shout out to my fellow nominees, who will now and forever be known as the guys who lost to f—ing Adam Sandler.”
Due to covid protocols, the Twain Prize ceremony went on a two-year hiatus after stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle received the honor in 2019. It returned this year as a spring ceremony after generally being a fall event. It proceeded in a semi-normal fashion, aside from some general masking that honoree Jon Stewart joked made the crowd look “like something from an O. Henry story” and the fact that Stephen Colbert, who was scheduled to speak about Stewart, had to Zoom into the show after contracting the virus.
“Comedy survives every moment,” Stewart said, which is vital because “comedy doesn’t change the world, but it’s a bellwether. We’re the banana peel in the coal mine. When society is under threat, comedians are the ones who get sent away first.”