Adam Sandler will receive the Mark Twain Prize this spring at the Kennedy Center
Sandler will be the 24th recipient of the award, which is named for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, i.e. Mark Twain, after last year’s tribute to John Stewart. Created in 1998 and first awarded to Richard Pryor, the award is given to humorists who make a lasting impact on American society — which “Happy Gilmore” almost certainly did.
The Sandman, as the 56-year-old comedian is nicknamed, is often cited as one of the “nicest guys in Hollywood.” Known for their goofy and juvenile nature, his films have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, according to a Kennedy Center press release. The ad raises one vital question: Will Sandler wear a suit to the ceremony, or stick to basketball shorts and a polo? (Good money was on the latter, as when the Academy rejected his performance in “Uncut Gems” in 2020, chirpBad news: Sandman isn’t getting any love from the Academy. Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits).
“Adam Sandler has entertained audiences for more than three decades with his films, music, and stint as a favorite cast member on SNL,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. “Adam has created characters that made us laugh, cry and cry with laughter. I look forward to an evening of laughter like no other as we celebrate his career in a gala that is sure to bring together the best in comedy.”
Adam Sandler keeps reminding us that he’s just a regular guy
After a few small TV roles, including a stint on “The Cosby Show,” Brooklyn-born Sandler joined SNL in 1990 as a writer. He eventually became a cast member known for such notable characters as Opera Man (in which he sings The News at Weekend Update), Carlo the Pepper Boy (in which he plays an Italian waiter who has some trouble, err, with a pepper mill) and Cajun Boy (in which he says It has short phrases that end with the sound “ion”, a play on the Cajun accent). The show also gave him a stage to release original new songs, like “The Chanukah Song,” which landed on the Billboard Top 100.
Sandler left SNL in 1995 as his film career began with films like “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 then, along with a number of other projects.
Despite his massive box office success, Sandler has rarely impressed critics throughout his three decades in show business — and he knows it. In 2018, he released a stand-up special named “100% Fresh”, a reference to the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which calculates a percentage of positive reviews a given work receives. In a fun twist, the special actually has a 90% “fresh” rating, making it among Sandler’s most popular works.
Occasionally, Sandler will delight aforementioned critics by taking a short break from his extensive comedy work to deliver a stunning dramatic performance by an auteur director, such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Judd Apatow’s Funny People (2009), Noah Baumbach’s “Meyerowitz Stories” (2017), and Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems” (2019). After winning Best Man at the Independent Spirit Awards for his role in The Safdie Brothers as gambling-addicted jeweler Howard Ratner, he used his speech to joke about not receiving an Oscar nod – and quipped ‘I’d also like to give a shout out to my fellow nominees, who by now will know. And forever to the men who lost to Adam Sandler.”
Sandler became one of the first people to sign a multi-film deal with Netflix, agreeing to star in and produce films exclusively for the service. His most recent drama, the sports drama “Hustle” (2022), earned him an honor at the 32nd Gotham Awards, where he reads a letter (more of a self-roast) written by his teenage daughters. He said, “My father’s ridiculous film career began in 1988, and it was shaped by two guiding principles: Prisoners in prison need movies too, and TBS needs content.”
Jon Stewart says that “the comedy stays in every moment” at the Twain Awards
Due to covid protocols, the Twain Award ceremony was halted for two years after comedian Dave Chappelle received the honor in 2019. It returned this year as a spring celebration after generally being a fall event. It went in an almost natural way, apart from some generic masking that Mr. John Stewart joked made the crowd look “like something out of an O. Henry story” and the fact that Stephen Colbert, who was scheduled to speak for Stewart, had to zoom in. Presentation after infection with the virus.
In his speech, the former Daily Show host focused mostly on his family but ended up reflecting on the role and validity of comedy in the modern world.
“Comedy is kept alive in every moment,” Stewart said, which is vital because “comedy doesn’t change the world, but it pioneers. We are the banana peel in the coal mine. When society is threatened, it’s the comedians who get fired first.”
He concluded, “What we have is fragile and precious, and the way to guard against it is not to change the way the masses think, but to change the way the leaders lead.”
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