On March 19, 2023, a ceremony was held at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, to honor Adam Sandler with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. This ceremony, which is set to air tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CNN, featured tributes from many of Sandler’s famous friends and collaborators.
Idina Menzel, who will reteam with Sandler in the upcoming film You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, opened the show as Opera Man, one of Sandler’s signature Saturday Night Live characters. Meanwhile, Chris Rock, Dana Carvey, and Pete Davidson provided stand-up sets, while Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore jokingly vied for Sandler’s real-life affection in a hilariously passive-aggressive and barbed bit.
Steve Buscemi recreated his hilarious drunken scene from The Wedding Singer, roasting Sandler. And Rob Schneider closed out the ceremony with a few lighthearted jokes, including one about how he had appeared in so many of Sandler’s films because he had kidnapped a relative of Sandler’s in Mexico.
Sandler himself held court after preemptively apologizing for the length of his speech. He reflected on his career and all the people who instilled “insane, weird confidence” in him throughout his life, beginning with his family. Sandler recalled that when he got his shot to make Billy Madison, he committed himself to making the sorts of comedies that he loved growing up: Caddyshack, Airplane!, and Animal House. As he put it, it was less “joke, joke, joke” and more “nice speech” about working hard while staying humble.
Through the ceremony, it became clear that Sandler is recognized not only for his success in comedy but also for his decency, loyalty, and strong work ethic. Sandler’s former roommate, Judd Apatow, painted a great picture of the young, pre-fame Sandler, while Sandler’s own mother, Judy, spoke about what it was like raising the comedian.
In conclusion, the Mark Twain Prize ceremony demonstrated just how beloved Adam Sandler is in the entertainment industry, with friends and colleagues coming together to celebrate his successes and share fond memories of him. The ceremony is a fascinating insight into one of the most influential comedians and actors of our time.