“SNL is a home. You’ve got all of your brothers and sisters there, and it’s a great time.”
Adam Sandler has always had a knack for comedy with his impressive comic timing and a penchant for improv comedy. He was discovered by Dennis Miller, a comedian who recommended him to Lorne Michaels, the producer at Saturday Night Live. Initially hired as a writer in 1990, Sandler became a household phenomenon when he started appearing in skits, garnering a massive fan following with his wonderful and fresh perspective towards comedy. Although Sandler was later known for his brilliant and goofy performances in various movies, including the likes of Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore and more, his time at SNL remains cemented as one of the greatest — right up with the likes of Chris Farley, Dan Aykroyd and more.
Arguably one of the best members in the history of the show, Sandler was notorious for his hilarious sketches, from singing about Thanksgiving, being an obsessive ex-lover, playing an obnoxious grandmother or a naive 27-year-old, Sandler was constantly moving in a different direction. Referred to as ‘Boy’ by everyone in the studio, Sandler’s genius paved a new way for the comedians of his generation. He was known for not being able to stay in his character while pairing up with the brilliant Chris Farley; the duo were explosive together and created various memorable skits.
However, despite his growing popularity, ratings were low and some of his characters seemed to be a repeat of each other. With negativity surrounding a period of his time on SNL, Sandler became known for pulling notorious antics on unsuspecting cast members which riled them up. In all, Sandler had more than a few disagreements with NBC and, eventually, was fired along with Chris Farley in 1995.
“See, I don’t even know if I was fired,” said Sandler, later reflecting. “I don’t know how it was handled. I just remember feeling like, ‘Did I quit, or did I get fired? I have no idea.’ But all of a sudden I wasn’t on the show anymore,” he added. From there, he has had the longest hiatus from the show, beating Aykroyd by nearly a week, after he returned to host SNL nearly 24 years later in 2019, and was presented with a hilarious skit called the “Sandler Family Reunion” where the current cast played all of his iconic characters, discussing his inspiration and more.
For a man who said, “My name is Adam Sandler. I’m not particularly talented. I’m not particularly good-looking. And yet I’m a multi-millionaire,” Sandler is actually one of the leading names in comedy and has given SNL fans memorable moments to cherish. Out of his many incredible skits, here are the 10 best skits on SNL starring this big old goof!
10 best Adam Sandler SNL skits
10. Adam Sandler’s Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas, 1991-1993
Holidays are expensive feats and, at times, for celebrating Halloween, costumes are nearly unaffordable. Sandler begins off with a poignant reminder of the recession yet quickly switches his goofy cap on when he effortlessly moves from describing one DIY costume to another. They are hilarious and wholesome and Sandler goes to great lengths to make these characters look funny and believable. From sticking a plant to his head or arm to holding a spoon above his head, Sandler focused on various physical deformations in form of inanimate household objects that would appeal to the Halloween parties.
Sandler reprised the role of being the one to supply costume ideas for over three years (1991-1993) bringing in various memorable characters who were all “crazy” and were aggressively demanding candies. From playing the Crazy Newspaper Guy, the Crazy Big Eyed Man, the Crazy Guy Under the Desk, Crazy Teabag Mouth, Squishy Face and more, Sandler pulled off hilarious expressions with contorted facial features. If you are running late and need a quick costume idea, Sandler’s SNL sketch will surely help you out. A personal favourite would definitely be Crazy Tether Ball Head, check it out below as he aggressively swings the ball dangling to his head in a circular motion.
“Halloween is coming and it is always loads of fun but we have to remember we’re living in recession and money is tight. Don’t go bugging your parents for these new overpriced costumes. They’re such a ripoff!”
9. Opera Man, 1992-1995, 2019
Adam Sandler created the original character of Opera Man who became an instant fan favourite, returning in various seasons due to his brutally honest and uproariously dramatic persona. After 1995, Sandler returned to this character in a 2019 SNL sketch – nearly 24 years later – which did not make the character lose its charm and humour. The Opera Man, with his brilliant commentary about the problems plaguing the world, sings the news about the world. He resorts to peppering his songs with Italian words, adding to the overall charismatic aura of the songs.
The Opera Man is always dressed in a crisp tuxedo, adorning a cape as well as a black wig while imitating the operatic voice with a faux crescendo. His songs, like a normal opera, get more sorrowful towards the end as he goes on singing about various topics from all over the world. From singing about lottery tickets to Al Gore, from referring to pop cultural phenomena as Tom Hanks’ two consecutive Oscar wins to incorporating other fake Italian words, all hell broke loose when Jon Lovitz joined Sandler, as his cousin, for a duet.
“Dio in heaveno, per favor, un more matcho, be so greato, Opera man promise no more masterbato.”
8. Canteen Boy, 1993-1994
With hosts like John Goodman, Jason Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Kim Basinger, Heather Locklear and more, Adam Sandler reprised the role of the naive childlike and inherently innocent 27-year-old Canteen Boy who is the assistant scoutmaster, joined by Chris Farley as a fellow Boy Scout. Bullied by all, he lacks self-confidence and says nothing when he is picked on. He is however a skilled snake-calling master and finds a way to get back at his bullies by being a good outdoorsman.
Although there was controversy surrounding the notorious Alec Baldwin episode, which had the actor make sexual advances towards the Canteen Boy with many calling the episode homophobic and trivialising paedophilia, it is pertinent to note that Sandler’s character was actually 27 in the sketch and completely aware of the sexual overtones used by Baldwin. Baldwin had to re-host the following season to make his speech more politically correct.
“I do not dwell on things like that. I could get killed crossing the street.”
7. Lunch Lady Land, 1994
The Lunch Lady is absolutely hated by all in the school due to her hideous appearance and obnoxious behaviour. Chris Farley is the lunch lady, clad in a tight blue dress, wearing yellow rubber gloves and a white apron as well as pink stockings; he is a vision to behold. As Adam Sandler sings along, Farley’s interpretive dance moves are too funny. In Sandler’s song, food items like garlic bread, pizza, green bean and others revolt against the Lunch lady before the valiant Sloppy Joe comes to her rescue.
Adam Sandler tried to maintain professionalism by not laughing but failed due to Chris Farley’s romantic slow dance with Sloppy Joe at the end played by Kebbin Nealon. Accentuated by Farley’s hilarious appearance, Sandler and his song became a household phenomenon, marking the debut of his music career and this music video sold nearly two million copies.
“Everybody here gets food in the magical Lunch Lady Land.”
6. The Denise Show, 1993
Adam Sandler plays the obsessive ex-boyfriend brain who is still hung up over his ex, Denise, with whom he had broken up nearly 12 weeks ago. He chickens out before dialling her number, and gets scolded by his father as people related to Denise to tell him about her life and attempts to conceal his broken heart. He stalks Denise but then gets kissed by Sara, Denise’s best friend, played by Nicole Kidman which leads him to cancel the show.
This ongoing sketch portrayed Sandler as a pathetic lovelorn guy who could not move on from his ex, smelling her stuff and talking about how wounded she left him. Constant screaming matches with his father, played by Phil Hartman, would end up with the latter expressing his disappointment over his son while Denise’s new boyfriend would only humiliate Brian further. Despite what Sandler’s Brian went through, he still got to date Nicole Kidman. That’s something, right?
“The Denise Show has been officially cancelled. Thanks to all my sponsors who will no longer be needed.”
5. Gap Girls at the Foodcourt, 1994
The Gap Girls were recurring characters on SNL skits comprising Chris Farley, David Spade and Adam Sandler playing Cindy Crawford, Christy Henderson and Lucy Brawn. Ignorant and laidback about their job at Gap, ignoring customers and talking smack, never taking anything seriously, discussing boys and their pathetic dating lives. From running into their rival girl groups to appearing in celebrity guest shows, these girls have been up to everything. However, the most popular sketch was of the girls having lunch.
At the food court, Cindy, played by Chris Farley, is revealed to be the leader of the group who inhales french fries. Farley devours a few fries from David Spade, saying how she would start her diet from Monday but then goes on taking fistfuls of them. When Spade tries to dissuade her, Farley switches his conventional Valley Girl accent to a hoarse, masculine and demonic El Nino-esque baritone, leaving both Sandler and Spade in splits. Despite the best of their efforts, Farley’s impromptu hilarity juxtaposed to his serious expressions made it difficult for Sandler ad Spade to not break character.
“Lay me off, I’m starving.”
4. Bobby Watches Grandma, 1992
Joey brings a girl home and wants to spend some time alone with her. He entrusts his brother Bobby with the task of looking after their grandma, whom they call ‘Grammy’. Grandma can be quite a handful and soon Bobby’s peaceful time comes crumbling down as he is pushed towards doing difficult tasks while dealing with an obnoxious crybaby of a grandmother whose cry for help brings Joey out of his room every time, prompting the latter to beat Bobby up mercilessly without giving him the time to explain. From fluffing up her pillows to getting her the square platter, from giving her the newspaper to stopping her from being scammed by the crook, Bobby cannot seem to get to his nagging grandmother’s good side irrespective of his good deeds.
Michael Keaton as Joey and Chris Farley as the defeated Bobby are overshadowed by Sandler’s brilliant role as the complaining and difficult grandma. She refuses to be quiet and demands Joey’s unbridled attention. She screams and yells when she does not get to do what she wants and is an absolute nightmare for Bobby who gets hilariously assaulted by Joey in the process for his “misconduct”. Sandler perfected the oldie voice and even stuttered in the right places to add a hint of realism to his uber-comical character.
“You were a difficult birth.”
3. Pepper Boy, 1994
Marco works as the pepper boy whose job is to grind pepper for the customers in the restaurant and is also entrusted with the duty of training the inexperienced Carlo who shall take up this very position after Marco is gone. A hilarious series of events follow when Carlo is taught the sensual art of pepper grinding and tries to do so yet fails miserably. From kissing a customer to grinding pepper onto another customer’s chocolate mousse, Carlo messes up every time and cannot comprehend how to be a prodigy in the art of pepper grinding like that of his superior. This is until he has to serve the man with a big fat bushy beard and makes Marco proud by perfectly giving him three serves of ground pepper.
The anti-climactic moment following Carlo’s success adds the fun factor to the story. Labour is replaced by machinery and the duo get fired. Marco is played by Dana Carvey while Sandler plays the rib-ticklingly funny and incompetent pepper boy with a high, childish nasal tone who, despite his valiant efforts to emulate his superior, cannot seem to get it right. From placing the grinder in between his legs, thrusting forward extremely inappropriately to sprinkle pepper all over a customer’s mousse to catching Tim Meadows totally unaware by kissing him, Sandler is wonderful. With Farley, Sandler often broke character due to the former’s extremely amusing demeanour and eagle-eyed fans can see Carvey mouthing “don’t-a-break” to Sandler to stop him from losing himself in laughter and gags.
“Like I can fly, senor, on wings made of pepper!”
2. Zagat’s with Hank and Beverly Gelfand, 1995
This highly entertaining skit during the 20th season of SNL featured the iconic duo, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley as Beverly and Hank Gelfand, the host of the show “Zagat’s” while they celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. Clad in shimmery clothing, flaunting his abundant chest hair, Farley’s Beverly seems to be in love with her grumpy husband Hank, played by Sandler, who desperately tries to not break character yet fails due to Farley’s amusing and comical presence. While Beverly tries to find a restaurant for them to dine in, Hank curses his father for asking him to “get married” and hopes for his father to “rot in his grave”.
Hank keeps on cursing at his wife as well as her sister, Pauline, after the latter joins them. Sandler nearly loses it when Farley rubs his thighs and can be seen trying to contain his laughter yet failing miserably. By the end of the night, as the two sisters read through the restaurant guide, Hank gobbles down a bottle of sleeping pills and collapses while Beverly and Pauline nonchalantly keep on skimming through the guide. As always, Farley and Sandler as the smitten wife and the tired husband make a memorable skit that is guffaw-inducing and absolutely brilliant.
“I’m in the middle of a moron sandwich.”
1. The Thanksgiving Song, 1992-1993
The Thanksgiving Song was penned and composed by Adam Sandler and sung originally in 1992 as a duet between him and Kevin Nealon. It was originally envisioned as a recurrent version to be performed by various cast members every year but Sandler won over the crowd and returned the following year, resembling Bruce Springsteen. It is a highly entertaining and popular holiday song that is still played on the radio during the Thanksgiving holidays. While some of the more explicit verses had been carefully removed, it continues to be a cult favourite nearly three decades since its release.
Turkey is one of the most coveted Thanksgiving culinary items and Sandler repeats the word various times throughout his song. He sings in a childish voice with a semi-falsetto, alluding to various pop culture references including mopeds, corduroy pants, Betty Grable and more. The quirky song is now a treasured holiday essential.
“A turkey for you, a turkey for me, let’s eat turkey in a big brown shoe.”