Interviews


Adam Sandler


Occupation: Actor, Comedian, Musician, Screenwriter, Singer
Date of Birth: September 9, 1966
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Virgo, Moon in Cancer
Relations: Fiancée: Jackie Titone (model); former companions: Margaret Ruden, Alicia Silverstone
Education: New York University; B.F.A.

 

ADAM SANDLER played the archetypal class clown throughout his upbringing in New Hampshire. At 17, he took his first exhilarating step toward becoming a stand-up comedian when he spontaneously took the stage at a Boston comedy club he was patronizing. He found that he was a natural-born buffoon. Sandler nurtured his comedic talent while at New York University (he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991) by performing regularly in clubs and at universities; during his freshman year, he snagged a recurring role as Theo Huxtable's friend Smitty on The Cosby Show. Sandler further cut his comedy teeth working the local comedy-club circuit in L.A., where he was "discovered" by Dennis Miller, a Saturday Night Live alum. Miller caught Sandler's act one night at the L.A. Improv and put the bug in S.N.L. producer Lorne Michaels's ear that the kid had no mean talent. The recommendation helped Sandler secure a coveted spot on the show in 1990, primarily as a writer, but also as an occasional performer.

Before his first year was up, Sandler was elevated to a regular player by virtue of the enormous popularity of his sketch characters Cajunman, Iraqi Pete, Canteen Boy, and Operaman. In addition to this passel of non-sequitur-spouting imbeciles, Sandler created memorable caricatures of Eddie Vedder,Bruce Springsteen, and Axl Rose. As the quality of Saturday Night Live's programming grew increasingly spotty, few would deny that, from 1991 to 1995, Sandler provided a healthy share of the only truly funny moments the show had to offer. That's not to say that everyone responded to his genius idiocy  one reviewer dubbed him "The most talentless, juvenile, and offensive member of the current cast." We can only assume Sandler was right on track.

In 1993, Sandler released his first album of comedy material, called they're all gonna laugh at you! Giving voice to a teenage boy's id (we're not exactly talking haute comedy here: lots of masturbatory and scatological references, with a heavy dose of thrashings of various school officials and civil servants), the Grammy-nominated album camped out on Billboard's charts for well over 100 weeks. Few could fail to respond to characters like Lunchlady and the foul-mouthed Buffoon (apparently a Tourette's syndrome sufferer to judge from his constant stream of lewd outta-left-field outbursts), and lyrics like "Woke up in the morning/ Put on my new plastic glove/ Served some reheated Salisbury steak/ With a little slice of love," and "I love your feet/ I love your breasts/ I love the way you eat gravel/ To help you digest/ Oh, my little chicken." As innocuous as these lyrics may seem, trust that the album well deserved its advisory warning label.

This heady period was also marked by Sandler's early dabbling in films: Shakes the Clown, Coneheads, Mixed Nuts, and Airheads were for the most part maddeningly unfunny, but Sandler would not be deterred. He next starred in the slightly more substantial Billy Madison, which tells the story of a rich kid who has to repeat grades one through twelve in six months in order to earn his inheritance. Co-scripted by Mr. Sandler, Billy Madison drew favorable enough returns to encourage him to bid a fond and inevitable adieu to the Saturday Night Live playpen in 1995, right around the same time the late Chris Farley made his own bid for a film career based largely on playing oafish nitwits. That holiday season, Sandler's "Hanukkah Song" ("When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree/ Here's a list of people who are Jewish just like you and me/ David Lee Roth lights the menorah/ So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah") became a surprise hit on the radio. The ditty appeared on Sandler's second album of raucously puerile material, What the Hell Happened to Me?, which hit stores in 1996. Other highlights from the album included an ode to his clunker of a car and the introduction of a new personality called the "Excited Southerner," a moron whose various misadventures include getting pulled over, meeting Mel Gibson, and proposing marriage. No musical genre was spared Sandler's profanity-laden humor on What's Your Name?, his 1997 album release.

In 1996 alone, Sandler appeared in the golfing comedy Happy Gilmore (which he co-scripted) and the cop-teams-with-criminal action comedy Bulletproof, in which he co-starred with Damon Wayons. He also sandwiched in a fleeting relationship with the much-younger Alicia Silverstone. Though most of his film efforts have been well-received only by rabid fans of his goofy sketch humor, Sandler is winning people over in droves, a fact evidenced by the box-office success of his 1998 starring vehicles The Wedding Singer, in which he appeared opposite Drew Barrymore, and The Waterboy, which grossed over $39 million its opening weekend. His next release, Big Daddy, extended the winning streak, easily beating out the competition its first weekend out at the box office with an estimated $41 million haul.

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