Enter Sandman

In an era of “dark comedy” and cancel culture, Adam Sandler remains both funny and sincere.


An image I took at Sandler’s show I attended before he started his sold-out performance.

Jackson McCoy, Staff Writer, Editor-in-Chief

When the name Adam Sandler is said in conversation, not everyone thinks “brilliant,” “genuine,” or even “funny.” But I believe he is all of these things and more. In contrast to the modern day of edgy humor and internet hatred, Sandler brings a very welcome light-hearted laugh.

I recently attended Sandler’s Columbus show–a part of his 2023 nationwide “The Sandman” tour. Before he starts his show, a special guest does stand up to warm up the crowd. A few days prior at his Cincinnati show, Chris Rock was the opener, so I was very excited to see who the special guest would be.

When Rob Schneider walked on stage, I was thrilled. I knew him from one of my favorite Adam Sandler movies, “Grown Ups,” so I was looking forward to seeing his set.

Schneider started out very funny, with several crude jokes that seemed perfect for an Adam Sandler opener. However, he started to make several more political jokes that did not sit well with me. As he mocked liberals, more and more of the crowd became riled up, which only made me more uncomfortable to be there.

While I was sitting in my seat waiting for his set to be over, I began to worry that this uncomfortable, overly-political bit would run into Sandler’s part of the show. Schneider was deeply sexist at times, the crowd was getting more and more raucous. 

When Sandler finally stepped on stage, I was very anxious. If he was anything like Schneider, I would have probably been a little heartbroken.

But he was nothing like his guest comedian. His humor was so random, so self-deprecating, so vulgar, there was almost no way to contain  laughter. He avoided politics and serious issues the entire time, which made for a very entertaining night. While most people may not consider him a comedic genius, he seemed like one to me that night. He seemed larger than life, towering over the crowd with his off the wall humor.

This métier underlies his entire career. Almost everyone in America has heard of Adam Sandler at some point, despite his movies scoring relatively low overall on Rotten Tomatoes. His comedy is very recognizable, and Sandler himself is overall well-liked.

His movies are generally how people know Sandler. Early films like “Billy Madison” and “Waterboy” helped jump-start his career as the chief of oddball humor, while more modern features like the “Grown Ups” series and “Blended” furthered his cementation into the film industry.

Sandler has also proven several times he can execute serious roles very well. Early in his career, he starred in the critically acclaimed “Punch Drunk Love,” which was one of the first films where we saw him flex his acting muscles. More recently, he starred in “Hustle” and “Uncut Gems,” in which both of his performances generated possible award buzz. While he was ultimately snubbed, his performances in these films are still surprisingly mature, given his origins in mindless comedy.

His standup comedy acts have also helped establish his position as the head-honcho of comedy. His live show and stand-up humor are just as funny and recognizable as his movies. His set was full of insane jokes that were just as shocking as they were hilarious, and his signature musical asides added an extra layer of weirdness that is uniquely him. The Columbus show I attended was sold out, and he still has several dates remaining across the nation. 

But even when he was telling jokes, his sincerity was clear. He ended the show with his “Chris Farley Song” he originally performed on Saturday Night Live after Farley’s death, and a tribute song to his wife. Both of these performances made the audience laugh while lingering in a more emotional realm. His balance of emotional storytelling and humor made the show incredibly well rounded and fun.

While numerous low-scoring movies and some scattered highly revered performances may not seem like the report card of a comedic genius, it certainly is for Sandler. He’s navigated a highly competitive industry by carving out a distinct style and approach that has earned him love from people across the world.