Adam Sandler Is Awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
WASHINGTON — Adam Sandler brought his trademark loopy but charming sense of humor to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday night, as he was recognized for three decades of writing, acting and directing with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
“As I look at this goofy award, I can’t help but think that one day it just might be the weapon used to bludgeon me to death,” Mr. Sandler said in his familiar silly cadence during his acceptance speech.
He is the 24th comic to be awarded one of the industry’s top honors, which has annually celebrated a heavyweight in American comedy, from film and television's greatest comedic actors to social critics and playwrights. Each, including last year’s honoree, Jon Stewart, has been recognized for having an impact on American society, according to the Kennedy Center.
Mr. Sandler, 56, thanked his friends and family for helping build his confidence throughout his career, which began performing stand-up five nights a week in New York City and led to leading roles in blockbuster comedies like “Grown Ups” and “Big Daddy.” Several of Sunday night’s speakers, including comics and actors such as Judd Apatow, Steve Buscemi and David Spade, poked fun at the parade of Mr. Sandler’s films that were panned by critics in remarks that were as much a roast as they were a celebration of his career.
“To hell with ratings, you guys are my new friends now,” Mr. Sandler said to those in the audience.
A comic, actor, filmmaker and singer, Mr. Sandler starred in movies that have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, and he has stacked up dozens of credits as a producer and screenwriter. He became a household name with a leading role 1995’s “Billy Madison” and later took on sports comedies and popular romantic comedies like 1998’s “The Wedding Singer” with Drew Barrymore and 2011’s “Just Go With It” with Jennifer Aniston, both of whom praised him onstage Sunday night.
Idina Menzel, another former co-star, dressed as “Opera Man,” a character from Mr. Sandler’s days as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1990s, to open the show and serenaded Mr. Sandler in much his own fashion.
The Mark Twain Prize has sometimes been seen as a cap to a long, successful career in comedy, but Mr. Sandler has won critical acclaim for his recent dramatic work, including 2022’s “Hustle,” a return to the sports genre that won him a Gotham Award last year, and 2019’s dark comedy-drama, “Uncut Gems.”
Many of the night’s speakers praised Mr. Sandler for his unending work ethic. He is currently on an expanded leg of a sold-out stand-up tour across the country and has a sequel to a Netflix comedy special that is set to be released at the end of the month.
“It’s just a part of my life that I never expected to happen, and it’s nice that my family and friends get to say that goofy guy Adam won a Mark Twain award,” Mr. Sandler said before the ceremony, which will be broadcast on CNN on March 26 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
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