After mainly playing supporting roles in TV series and movies and doing stand-up in comedy clubs, Adam Sandler started his run on Saturday Night Live in 1990. The following season, Sandler was added as a prominent cast member after initially being hired as a writer. On Saturday Night Live, Sandler was well-known for his original musical sketches, most notably his songs about Thanksgiving and Hannukah. He also enjoyed playing the recurring role of Opera Man in Weekend Update.
Most fans assumed that Adam Sandler’s exit from Saturday Night Live in 1995 just gave way to the release of Billy Madison, but in actuality, NBC fired him. Because of some of the distracting stunts Sandler and his group of guys would conduct behind the scenes at the writers’ request, he said that the NBC execs didn’t like him and his group.
Sandler maintained a cordial working relationship with the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, who could not save him and another cast member Chris Farley because he was already embroiled in controversy. Due to SNL’s dismal viewership in the previous two seasons, NBC was prepared to try something new, which involved switching out veteran performers like Sandler and perhaps even Michaels himself in favor of fresh faces.
After Sandler and Farley left, SNL experienced a new era of comedy in the late 1990s thanks to newcomers like Tracy Morgan, Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, and Chris Kattan. Since viewership for SNL fluctuates wildly, several cast members who don’t receive much attention or have outlived their usefulness are fired. Most SNL alums who had successful film careers did so of their own volition, making Chris Farley and Adam Sandler’s firing from the show unusual, given that they are still two of the most well-known comedians.
After the release of his cult classic Tommy Boy, Farley tragically passed away from an overdose in 1997. Still, Sandler continues to draw audiences to his recent movies, including Hotel Transylvania, Murder Mystery, and most recently, the surprisingly depressing Uncut Gems and the grounded, emotional Hustle.
Although it was undoubtedly a difficult decision for Sandler at the time, it may have been the most significant move for his career in the long term. Sandler’s success with movies produced by his production firm Happy Madison, which followed the critical praise of his first post-SNL flicks Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, has led to one of the most lauded comedic careers of the past 30 years.
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Since he frequently books his former SNL castmates Chris Rock, David Spade, Tim Meadows, and close friend Rob Schneider, Sandler appears to be in good spirits about how he left the show. In 2019, Adam Sandler also triumphantly returned as a host of Saturday Night Live, reviving his songwriting talents as he recalled being fired from the program in the opening monologue.
Is Getting Fired From SNL Actually A Career Boost?
As stated earlier, many Saturday Night Live cast members leave the show to pursue more prominent roles in the film and television industries. On the other hand, many well-known actors and comedians were dismissed from their positions on the show for similar reasons as Adam Sandler.
Eric Alper tweeted that
Today would've been Chris Farley's 57th birthday. Here he is with SNL friends Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and David Spade in the 1990's. pic.twitter.com/rbJUMpFyVq
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) February 17, 2021
The names are so significant that being fired from Saturday Night Live might be a better way to make a splash in the industry than leaving the show quietly after several seasons. Robert Downey Jr., Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Jenny Slate, Michaela Watkins, and Rob Riggle all had their time on Saturday Night Live cut unexpectedly short. Still, they have established themselves as legendary comedians and dramatic actors in various films and shows that have changed the game since their SNL tenures.
This may be just a coincidence, but it’s very evident that a comedian’s dismissal from Saturday Night Live doesn’t mark the end of their career, and in fact, it’s frequently a stepping stone to more broad fame.