Adam Sandler (1994)

Originally published in The Independent (January 26 – February 8, 1994)

Big name comedians don’t swing through Columbus very often (unless you count those clowns in the white hoods who perform their schtick on the statehouse steps every couple of months), so it wasn’t a surprise that the Adam Sandler show on January 20 sold out weeks prior to the actual event.

There is no need to give a play-by-play account of Sandler’s visit to Mershon Auditorium, either you were there and laughed at the jokes, or you were at home commiserating the fact that you hadn’t bought tickets in time. A brief conclusion I came to while sitting in my fourth row seat was that Sandler, at age 27, is far more entertaining when performing his stand-up routine than he is on his debut comedy disc, They’re All Gonna Laugh at You. His loose, comfortable approach on stage proves that he is most at home when standing in front of an audience; a man, a microphone, and his guitar. Yeah, Sandler did perform “Lunchlady Land”, “Red-Hooded Sweatshirt” and “The Thanksgiving Song” among others.

“I love going to colleges and I love hanging out after the show and going out and having fun,” said Sandler during a break in Saturday Night Live rehearsal a few weeks back. Sandler is no stranger to the college scene and the college comedy circuit as he attended NYU and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts. It was at one of his first performances near the NYU campus that SNL producer Lorne Michaels “discovered” Sandler. When time permits, Sandler attempts to fit in as many stand-up routines on college campuses as possible. “I have fun. I love doing it,” he commented.

A former cast member of The Cosby Show (he was Theo’s friend) and MTV’s Remote Control (who could forget Studboy?), Sandler, on the Saturday Night Live crew since the 1990-1991 season, is part of the “new class” on the show that was the stepping stone in the careers of big-name stars like Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Dana Carvey, John Belushi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tim Kazurinsky (all right, maybe Kazurinsky wasn’t that great of an example). And, just as many of those actors and actresses made the jump to the big screen, Sandler will make his feature film debut this summer in the (surprise, surprise) comedy Airheads. Sandler also said that he recently accepted a part in a new Steve Martin film, directed by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) that is due out around Christmas. But SNL fans shouldn’t worry, Sandler is happy making people laugh on the popular Saturday night show and has no plans of leaving for greener pastures.

“I look forward to Saturday every week to try to just do something funny and new,” Sandler said. “I like it when we do something new on the show and it works.” He relates working and hanging out with cast member Chris Farley, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Tim Meadows to being at camp with a bunch of friends. “We all just make each other laugh all the time,” Sandler said. “The only difference (between the show and camp) is we’ve got to write it all down afterwards.”

As his track record shows, Sandler’s experiments with such off-the-wall characters as Canteen Boy, Opera Man and Cajun Man, and his impersonations of Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, Axl Rose, Robert Smith of the Cure (not the former Buckeye running back) and Bono have paid off. So, will Sandler follow in the footsteps of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey (Wayne and Garth) and Julia Sweeney (Pat) and take one of his characters to the bright lights of Hollywood?

“I’m not thinking about doing any of my characters as a movie,” Sandler admitted although the audiences would turn out in droves. “Not like anybody asked me to do it, but it’s not something I really want to do right now.”

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