Adam Sandler and his wife, Jackie Sandler, arrive on the red carpet Sunday at the Kennedy Center in Washington, where the comedian was honored with the 2023 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
March 20 (UPI) -- Adam Sandler has worked with a consistent group of actors since his departure from Saturday Night Live led to a movie career. Those friends came out to celebrate Sandler as he received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.
Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, Steve Buscemi, Conan O'Brien, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston were among the stars who came out Sunday night in Washington to share memories of working with Sandler over a career spanning three decades and more than 80 TV and film credits.
"A lot of amazing. amazing people have flown to D.C. to say nice things about Adam Sandler. But have you asked yourself why so many of Adam's friends were available to speak tonight? I'll tell you why. Cause when Adam isn't working, they're not working," O'Brien said.
Sandler is the 24th recipient of the award, which honors someone each year who has made a significant mark on comedy. Last year's recipient was Jon Stewart.
Sandler, 56, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but grew up in Manchester, N.H. After graduating from New York University, he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995.
After his departure from SNL, Sandler went on to a movie career that includes comedies like Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998), The Waterboy (1998), Mr. Deeds (2002), 50 First Dates (2004) and Grown Ups (2010). Sandler's comedies were often met with derision by critics but in later years, he starred in critically acclaimed dramas like 2019's Uncut Gems, and the 2022 Netflix film Hustle.
In 2020, Netflix extended its deal with Sandler for four more films reported to be worth $250 million. Sandler first signed with the streamer in 2014.
Sandler's mother, Judy Sandler, and his wife, Jackie Sandler, also paid tribute to the actor. His longtime collaborator Buscemi said he was grateful for their relationship.
"Nobody makes me laugh like you and nobody has taken better care of me in this business than you," Buscemi said. "He does this for all his friends. He's done this for so many people...But for me, I think the best part of working with Adam, with you, is just getting to hang out with you, man."
Aniston, Barrymore, Luis Guzman and Ben Stiller also shared memories of working with Sandler.
"Adam can go to the farthest depths but somehow he does it without alienating people and that is a true art, as far as comedy is concerned," Barrymore said before the show.
Accepting the award, Sandler, who said he would have preferred wearing basketball shorts to the event, said, "As I look at this goofy award I'm holding, I just can't help but think this just may be the weapon used to bludgeon me, by an angry intruder...or Mr. Rob Schneider."
Sandler told the media before the show that the award was one way to legitimize his career.
"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."
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony airs on CNN on Sunday at 8 p.m. EDT.
Adan Sandler (R), and his wife, Jackie Sandler, arrive on the red carpet for a gala evening at the Kennedy Center in Washington as Adam Sandler is honored with the Mark Twain Prize
for American Humor on March 19, 2023. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo