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Adam Sandler returned to Studio 8H last night to host Saturday Night Live, and if Twitter is any indication, his appearance was very well received. He busted out some characters, sang a wonderful tribute to Chris Farley and even tackled the one awkward part of his initial run on SNL: the fact that he was fired.
It’s not something a ton of people realize. Most casual fans seem to be under the impression that the mid-90s SNL cast decided to move on and start movie careers, but many of them including Sandler, Farley, Chris Rock and Norm Macdonald were actually pushed out to revamp the show. Fortunately for Sandler, he landed on his feet and made a fortune at the box office. You can watch him joke about the whole thing below…
You’re probably wondering how the hell anyone could fire Adam Sandler from Saturday Night Live, but it’s a little less ridiculous when you take into account the larger factors in play at the time. Basically, ratings were starting to slip and there was a bit of a power struggle going on behind the scenes between creator and longtime producer Lorne Michaels and NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer. Basically, the latter felt the show had gotten too silly and had veered too far away from topical commentaries and too far toward broad goofiness. He wanted more clever commentaries on politics and current news, and that was very much the opposite of what Sandler and company were doing. Because Sandler, Farley and more were so popular, however, it was impossible not to give them airtime. You can read about all of that in the fabulous book Live From New York.
Looking back, it remains one of the most pivotal moments in Saturday Night Live history, and in a weird way, both parties were actually kind of right. The general public loved Adam Sandler. They wanted more and his movies went on to gross more than 4 billion at the box office. Chris Rock has obviously had an incredibly successful career, who knows the incredible places Farley would have gone if he had survived, and Macdonald, while not quite popular to the level of the other gentlemen, has also made some underrated movies (Dirty Work) and remains a legend in the comedy scene.
Pushing that crew of heavy hitters out (with the exception of David Spade who was asked to stay), however, cleared the way for new personalities like Will Ferrell to come in and remake the show in their images, however. It’s the same period of change that’s driven the show since Chevy Chase left and the show decided to replace him with Bill Murray.
Regardless, it’s great to see Adam Sandler back at Saturday Night Live, and I hope the show starts working in classic cast members on a more regular basis moving forward.