Adam Sandler honored with Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
Comedians threw some roast-like barbs at their longtime pal Adam Sandler — and included some more pointed shots at former President Trump and a few shoutouts to Paul Pelosi — as they feted the “Billy Madison” star on Sunday at the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The actor and “Saturday Night Live” alum drew a who’s who of Hollywood to the Washington performing arts institution to celebrate him taking home the top comedy award. The honor “recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain,” according to the Kennedy Center.
Sandler’s many showbiz companions sung his praises during a gala performance, while throwing in some politically charged one-liners for the D.C. crowd.
“Are you guys really going to arrest Trump?” Chris Rock asked as he took to the stage.
The 45th president posted on social media over the weekend that he could be arrested on Tuesday in connection with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into a hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 White House campaign.
“You know this is only going to make him more popular,” Rock said of Trump. “It’s like arresting Tupac [Shakur] — it’s just going to sell more records!”
Trump, Rock said, “paid off someone so his wife wouldn’t find out. That’s romantic!”
“We’ve all been cheated on. Don’t you wish that the person who cheated on you paid off somebody so you wouldn’t find out?” Rock exclaimed to laughs.
Trump was “so bad” as president, Rock said, that “Joe Biden had to burst off a monument.”
“Biden was dead for 16 years!” Rock cracked. The comedian then mentioned the infamous moment when Will Smith slapped him onstage at last year’s Academy Awards ceremony after Rock delivered a joke about the “King Richard” star’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Gesturing to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband, who sat next to his wife in the audience, Rock said, “Paul Pelosi — the only guy that knows how I felt.”
Pelosi was allegedly attacked by an intruder in his California home last October.
“Wayne’s World” star Dana Carvey also motioned the Pelosis, as he jokingly said he wanted to apologize for an impersonation he once did in front of the congresswoman depicting her when “Republicans drive [her] crazy.”
“You always look like you sat on something cold and wet,” Carvey quipped. “So Paul stood up, really tall, and we had an exchange and later on you kicked my ass,” the comic said to laughs.
Carvey, famed for his political impressions, also imagined a potential Trump indictment in the coming days.
Breaking out his impression of Trump, Carvey said, “Don’t read me my rights… I sat with Miranda. She’s a lovely lady.”
“There’s an old saying that success is a truth serum — that achieving your goals and being on top will bring out who you truly are. In Hollywood that can be a very scary thing,” Drew Barrymore said, as she appeared onstage alongside Sandler’s “Murder Mystery” co-star, Jennifer Aniston.
“Not like here in Washington,” Aniston said, “where regardless of their success, everyone is just scary.”
Steve Buscemi lauded Sandler’s “legendary career” and “big heart,” and mentioned the plotline of the 1994 film they did together, “Airheads.”
“Three white guys taking over a building. Back then, it was cool,” Buscemi said.
“Now it’s an insurrection!” the actor added, a reference to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.
Fifty-six-year-old Sandler shared why he himself doesn’t talk politics in interviews or in his comedy.
“I guess if I had something to add to the conversation, I’d be all over it,” Sandler told ITK on the red carpet ahead of the awards event.
“I love listening. I love seeing other kinds of comics. When I was eating breakfast this morning, I was with guys who know a lot about politics, and I have a great time hearing what everyone gets riled up about and learning from them,” Sandler said.
“But I feel kind of like I don’t know every angle. I don’t know … everything that’s going on. I don’t know the history of every comment, so I feel a little like … ‘Let me sit back and let the pros do that.’ I want to learn from it too,” Sandler added.
In his acceptance speech, Sandler thanked his family and friends for building up his confidence from a young age, quipping they created a “delusional” man “who is now the proud owner of the 2023 Mark Twain Award for Athleticism, Sexual Prowess and Guitar Virtuosity.”
Other famous names who took to the stage to honor Sandler at the 24th annual Mark Twain Prize included: Conan O’Brien, Judd Apatow, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Ben Stiller, Idina Menzel, Luis Guzmán, Pete Davidson, Tim Herlihy and Tim Meadows.
This year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony is poised to air on March 26 at 8 p.m. on CNN.
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