Adam Sandler contains multitudes. He’s proved himself equally adept at acting in comedies and dramas. He’s a killer onstage and on the basketball court. And as of March 19, he became the first recipient of over 15 Razzie Awards to also be awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. In speeches delivered by Sandler and his famous friends and colleagues — including Judd Apatow, Chris Rock, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Conan O’Brien, and Steve Buscemi — at the induction ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, this duality was a recurring theme. “The reason they don’t hurt me is because so many in this room have made me feel good about what we did together,” Sandler said of his critics. “Everything we do together makes me feel like the critics don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Another theme that reared its head throughout the event was Sandler’s penchant for employing his friends. “A lot of amazing, amazing people have flown to D.C. to say nice things about Adam Sandler,” O’Brien said in his speech. “But have you asked yourself why so many of Adam’s friends were available to speak tonight? I’ll tell you why. Because when Adam isn’t working, they’re not working.” Buscemi echoed this point, saying to Sandler, “Nobody makes me laugh like you, and nobody has taken better care of me in this business than you.”
Another of these friends, Apatow, who roomed with Sandler during their early days in L.A. and later worked with him on 2008’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan and 2009’s Funny People, used his speech to recall Sandler’s boundless confidence during those early years. “The moment you met him, you knew Adam was going to be a big star,” Apatow said. “And so did Adam.” He shared an old video he recorded of Sandler workshopping various voices while prank-calling a local deli during that era.
But, fittingly, in a room full of legendary comedians, the line of the night went to Sandler himself: “As I look at this goofy award I’m holding,” he said, “I can’t help but think that one day it might be the weapon used to bludgeon me in my sleep by a disgruntled intruder or possibly Mr. Rob Schneider.”