Adam Sandler Thinks He Took Himself Too Seriously During His Time On Saturday Night Live

Adam Sandler's filmography has got to be one of the weirdest in Hollywood history. The comedian joined "Saturday Night Live" in 1990, and quickly gained attention for his absurd characters who, while they often had a temper, retained a kind of childlike charm. There was a slapstick element to most of Sandler's comedy on the show, and when coupled with his novelty songs, it gave him the appearance of being a hilarious, somewhat one-dimensional performer.

But since he left "SNL" in 1995, he's been anything but one-dimensional. In fact, he stunned everyone with his dramatic abilities in movies such as "Uncut Gems" and "Punk Drunk Love." On the other hand, he's also churned out a string of genuinely god-awful comedy efforts, comprised mostly of him and his buddies seemingly just using studio money to go on vacation with a production crew and throwing a movie together from the resulting footage. 

Somewhere in the middle of all that, there's what I remember as standard late-'90s/early-2000s Sandler fare. This included films such as "Big Daddy" and "The Wedding Singer" where the actor got to display his endearing, everyman charm while tugging on the odd heartstring here and there. These days, he's holed up at Netflix. Somehow his 2016 Netflix movie "The Ridiculous Six" became the most-watched movie on the streamer, and he's been riding that wave ever since — sporadically breaking the trend to deliver stellar dramatic performances in the aforementioned film "Uncut Gems," or 2022's basketball drama "Hustle." In that way, he hovers between the silliness of his SNL days and the seriousness of his dramatic roles. But it seems he's always carried that mix of light and dark, even back when he was belting out novelty songs about how much he loved his mama "more than pastrama."

'I could be an ass'

Sandler returned to "SNL" in 2019, kicking things off with a song about how he was fired from the show back in 1995. But it's not something he's all that hung up on. Since departing, as he reminded us all in his monologue performance, his movies have made more than $4 billion at the box office, so the Sand-man is doing just fine. But back in those SNL days, it sounds like he was struggling much more than his sketch performances would suggest.

Talking to the AARP in 2022, the 56-year-old spoke about how he's changed since those SNL days, claiming that he's "calmer" than he used to be. In fact, he maintains that during his stint on the sketch show, he had, "a quick temper" and, "made a lot of dumb mistakes":

"Looking back on relationships, I could be an ass. I was selfish. I was competitive with other comedians and stuff. My father would say, 'That guy's funny,' and I would say, 'Hey, I'm funny, blah, blah,' and he'd be, like, 'Why can't you both be funny?' Because I was hungry, I didn't always see clearly then. I wanted to be a big comedian like Eddie Murphy, like Rodney Dangerfield."

It's a surprising admission from the comedian, who always seemed to be one of the more spontaneous, life-of-the-party-type performers on the show. And according to former "SNL" writer Conan O'Brien, that's pretty much the impression everyone had of Sandler:

"All the writers and performers had a lot of anxiety and everyone was very down and would stay up late at night, and this guy shows up who's just like 'This is great! Let's all get a milkshake,' and he was so joyous and he's always been that way."

Sandler has gotten 'better at life'

Adam Sandler's hidden struggle with his own competitiveness and comparing himself to others really isn't all that surprising considering the profession he came up in. Comedians are notoriously competitive with each other, and there have been countless tales from former "SNL" cast members recounting how anxiety-driven the whole experience was. 

Even such esteemed alumni as Bill Hader suffered. The "Barry" actor recently revealed to The Hollywood Reporter how, before shows, he would "have a full-blown panic attack," crying in a bathroom before heading out on stage. I've been lucky enough to go backstage at the show and while I certainly didn't witness any panic attacks, it really is just a group of people trying to put on the best show they can with the pressure of it all being live hanging over their heads. That's enough to make even the most carefree performer a little nervous.

Thankfully, Sandler seems to have mellowed with age, telling AARP, "I've gotten much better at life as I've gotten older." At the same awards show where O'Brien sang Sandler's praises, he also took the opportunity to roast his former colleague after he came up to accept his award for "Uncut Gems" prematurely. All of which, Sandler took with grace and general good sportsmanship, suggesting his days of being an "ass" are well and truly behind him,