Adam Sandler's Music Doesn't Get Enough Credit

Adam Sandler, who comes to Sugar Land April 11, made music funny.
Adam Sandler, who comes to Sugar Land April 11, made music funny. Photo courtesy of celebrityabc via Flickr
People say Adam Sandler isn’t funny anymore. This isn’t entirely accurate. Sandler is still capable of being funny; his humor simply doesn’t translate to the big screen anymore. Whether he stopped trying (like Eddie Murphy), ran out of ideas (like Amy Schumer, and man, that happened fast) or veered too far into serious territory (see Jim Carrey), you can attribute any number of factors to Sandler’s commercial malaise over the past few years.

So no, Adam Sandler isn’t exactly firing fastballs on the big screen (or Netflix) these days, but dude is still funny. He will confirm as much on April 11 when he and buddies David Spade, Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson perform at Sugar Land's Smart Financial Centre as part of Sandy Wexler’s Here Comes the Funny Tour.

Sandler isn’t a typical stand-up comic in the vein of Chris Rock or Louis C.K. Rather, he’s more the type to weave personal stories with oft-sophomoric music. Dude isn’t likely to place a comical spin on serious topics like race relations and government corruption.

But that’s what we love about Adam Sandler. He’s the guy you hang out with when you’re in the mood to talk about sports or relationships, not climate change or the state of political affairs. He’s also quite adept at penning songs that, while frequently juvenile, have lived on decades after their release. In fact, much of Sandler’s success as a comedian and movie star is tied directly to music.

Let’s start from the beginning, which for Sandler traces back to his time on Saturday Night Live. Sandler was only on the show for four years, and was actually fired – along with Chris Farley – in 1995. Yes, NBC fired two of the greatest movie stars the show ever produced, but I digress.

Sandler portrayed a number of characters during his SNL run; Canteen Boy was a personal favorite. However, many consider Opera Man to be his greatest feat. Basically, Sandler would drop by SNL’s “Weekend Update” and read the news, but would do so by singing it in an operatic voice (it’s funnier than it sounds).

Of course, Sandler’s musical roots also found their footing during his time as one of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Some of his most famous tunes – including “The Thanksgiving Song,” “Lunchlady Land” and “The Chanukah Song” – all debuted on the program, and all rank among the highlights of SNL during the early '90s.

Sandler’s musical tastes have also found their way to the big screen as well. In Airheads, he played a dimwitted pool guy who doubled as a drummer for a trio called The Lone Rangers (yes, the irony of a trio of “lone” guys was a comedic theme throughout the movie). But Sandler really blended comedy and music with the 1998 romantic comedy The Wedding Singer. Arguably Sandler’s most underrated film, it both captures '80s fashion and showcases Sandler’s unique ability to make music funny (many comedians have tried; most have failed).

So yeah, Sandler has always had a penchant for blending music and comedy, and he’s certainly done so on both the big and the small screen. However, his greatest musical achievement came via his studio albums, predominantly those released in the early to mid-’90s.

Sandler’s first studio record, 1993’s They’re All Gonna Laugh at You, is an absolute master class in musical comedy. The album, which eventually went double platinum, featured a mix of comedic sketches and musical numbers. The sketches are good; the music is better. Aforementioned tunes like “The Thanksgiving Song” and “Lunchlady Land” still hold up (plus, the image of Chris Farley in the lunchlady get-up never gets old), and tracks like “At a Medium Pace” and “I’m So Wasted” – while juvenile as all hell – certainly have that junior high appeal.

Sandler followed that up with his masterpiece in 1996 – What the Hell Happened to Me? The album, which also sold north of 2 million copies, features the two best songs Sandler ever recorded – “Ode to My Car” and “The Chanukah Song.” The former still elicits a laugh all these years later, and the latter has not only become a commercial-radio staple every holiday season, but has also spawned sequels aplenty.

To what extent Sandler digs into his musical catalog during his stop in Sugar Land is anyone’s guess. And hell, the thought of a 50-year-old man jamming about sex acts and his crappy ride might not play anyway. But one thing is certain – Adam Sandler will show up, he will bust out the guitar and, for those in attendance, he will prove that, commercial missteps aside, dude can still be the funniest guy in the room.
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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale