It’s not every day you get to see the Sandman himself — especially not close enough where he could accidentally spit on you while making one of his wacky voices. But I had the opportunity to do just that sans spit when I caught Adam Sandler’s stand up last week.
Even though Sandler lives in Los Angeles somewhere, it still felt quite surreal that he was suddenly popping up to make a surprise appearance at a small comedy club, the Dynasty Typewriter, near Downtown Los Angeles. Drive two miles to go see Adam Sandler? Count me in!
Even before the show started, my friend and I were getting a small chuckle at his tagline for the show, which proudly described him as Smitty from the Cosby Show. Despite being the King of Comedy, Sandler had used his on-screen debut in a comical way to help people recognize him instead of his iconic comedy films or recent dramas. As if people would drive by the sign and think, “Adam Sandler? Who is that shmuck? Oh yeah, Smitty! Love that guy!”
But honestly, this really set the scene for the rest of the night.
Adam Sandler has become one of the most well-known comedians of all time. He famously got his big break on Saturday Night Live and went on to produce and star in the most popular comedy movies of the 90s and early 2000s. It’s hard to forget him singing “Somebody Kill Me Please” in the Wedding Singer or swimming in a speedo at top speed in Don’t Mess With the Zohan. I personally can’t get enough of his performance in Uncut Gems, one of the most intense films I’ve ever sat through. Three times in theaters.
But Sandler actually got his start as a stand up comic. He did his first open mic at 17 years old, debuting in Boston, Massachusetts. Dennis Miller saw him performing stand up in Los Angeles and recommended him to Lorne Michaels, which led to him becoming a writer on Saturday Night Live in 1990. He came up with a variety of boisterous, goofy-voiced characters like Canteen Boy and Opera Man. He performed the “Hanukkah Song.”
Now, at the Dynasty Typewriter, Sandler was going back to his roots.
While Sandler is currently filming a handful of new movies, including one about Bat Mitzvahs you’re not invited to, he also decided to step away from Hollywood to do some stand up — the thing that got him noticed to begin with.
What really stood out to me about Sandler’s performance was his likeability. He could be heard yelling for production to “hurry up” from behind the curtains as it started to creep past the alleged start time. He came out smiling (and coughing), wearing some basketball shorts and a fugly sweater. He immediately started telling a story about how he’d just gotten over COVID and then made fun of some guy in the front row for laughing super loud.
It all felt very down-home and casual for someone so famous — so iconic. It was crazy to think that Sandler has been in all of these movies I’ve watched throughout my life (including some I’d like to forget) and was now just casually walking around in basketball shorts just a few feet from me, coughing down on us.
I would say it was like he didn’t even know how famous he really was except for a hilarious story he told about his daughter’s teenage friend who pretended not to know who he was when he came over for her birthday party. He casually detailed the back and forth between him and the bratty teen, the audience cracking up at his insistence that the teen admit he knew his identity. In the end, Sandler claimed he pulled a gun out on the kid to finally get him to admit he was aware of who he was. It was like a typical dad moment but on major steroids, which was sort of the majority of his stand up routine.
Sandler talked a lot about his family — his wife and two daughters — as well as the usual bits about aging and other typical topics a 50-something would bring up. But Sandler also has that side of him that has always made him stand out, whether it was critics condemning him or teens idolizing him.
He would go on weird rambling stories and then admit there was no end in sight to the joke — he claimed he hadn’t bothered to finish writing an ending, chastising himself for not doing so for his fans. He would tell stories that had random, shocking twists that were sophomoric but still unexpected enough to make an impact.
He would argue with himself while using a strange raspy baby voice — you know the one. And he would sing songs about hating his daughter’s friends, wearing ugly shorts, and even one about Chris Farley.
It’s been a few days now and the stand up was a bit of a blur! I remember my face hurting from constantly smiling, although I wasn’t really the target audience for jokes about his grandma’s gardener wearing his used condom from when he was a teenager that she had weirdly since he lost his virginity all those years ago.
Despite some jokes not being my sense of humor, I still found myself amused by Sandler’s on stage antics — joking with his friend that was on the keyboard, fiddling with his guitars, mumbling about not having a good enough punchline prepared.
It really seemed like Sandler was just having fun just casually telling rambling jokes and making up versus for songs on the spot. You can tell how much he loves making people laugh, how much he loves his weird, wacky sense of humor. You can tell why he became so famous. It was definitely a memorable experience even if most of the jokes didn’t have me rolling. There is nothing quite like seeing the Sandman hacking a lung on stage while wearing basketball shorts and singing about phone, wallet, keys.
If you have the chance to watch the Sandman live, definitely do it. You won’t be sorry. Well, unless you’re in the front row laughing very, very loud. Then be prepared to get called out.