July 20, 2019

The Triumphant Return of Adam Sandler

“It’s not unusual when a former Saturday Night Live staffer returns to the show to host. In the last few seasons alone, there have been episodes hosted by former cast cornerstones (Will Ferrell, Bill Hader), distinguished former “Weekend Update” anchors (Tina Fey, Seth Meyers), and even past writers (John Mulaney, Larry David). But when Adam Sandler hosted the show for the first time this past weekend, it felt like a genuine event.

Sandler, who was a writer and then cast member for the first half of the 1990s before going on to huge success in film comedies, was, before this weekend, arguably the highest-profile SNL guy who had never come back to host. Cast members as notoriously prickly as Chevy Chase and Bill Murray have done it multiple times, and even the famously ambivalent Eddie Murphy has technically hosted, albeit when he was still a cast member. Sandler has done a couple cameos, but even these are scarce; the last one was almost 17 years ago, to promote his long-forgotten animated movie Eight Crazy Nights.

When occasionally asked about returning to SNL, Sandler has shrugged it off, claiming that he did what he could on the show and doubting aloud whether he could keep up with newer, younger cast members. This self-analysis is compatible with the critical view of Sandler’s later-period work: lazy comedies that don’t require much of him beyond an approximation of his old rabble-rousing persona, updated in movies like Grown Ups or Jack and Jill to reflect his status as a slightly irascible suburban rich guy with cute kids and a lot of hangers-on.”

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