WASHINGTON — A host of comedic and entertainment royalty gathered at Washington’s Kennedy Center to present comedy icon Adam Sandler with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Among those scheduled to honor Sandler on Sunday night were Jennifer Aniston, Judd Apatow, Drew Barrymore, Steve Buscemi, Dana Carvey, Luis Guzmán, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Ben Stiller.
“Who has lasted this long and stayed this beloved?” Carvey said as he arrived on the Kennedy Center red carpet. “Nobody keeps this up for this long.”
Buscemi, known largely for dramatic and often violent roles, portrayed a string of comedic characters in Sandler movies.
“He takes his comedy very seriously. I laugh hard at everything I do with him,” he said.
Buscemi also singled out Sandler's musical comedy, including “The Chanukah Song," which became a multiplatinum hit. “His comedy songs alone deserve this reward,” he said.
Sandler, 56, first came to national attention as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” After being fired from the cast following a five-year stint, Sandler launched a wildly successful movie career that has spanned more than 30 films, grossing over $3 billion worldwide.
Sandler's top hits include “Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer” and “You Don't Mess with the Zohan.” Although primarily known for slapstick comedy and overgrown man-child characters, he has excelled in multiple dramatic roles in films such as "Punch Drunk Love" and “Uncut Gems.”
Guzman, who co-starred in “Punch Drunk Love,” praised Sandler's “total commitment to something that was so far our of his element.”
Mark Twain recipients are honored with a night of testimonials and video tributes, often featuring previous award winners. Other comedians receiving the lifetime achievement award include Richard Pryor (the inaugural recipient in 1998), Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett and Dave Chapelle. Bill Cosby, the 2009 recipient, saw his Mark Twain Prize rescinded in 2019 amid multiple allegations of sexual assault.
The long-running comedy institution "SNL" has provided more than its share of the 24 Mark Twain recipients. Sandler is the seventh cast member to receive the prize, joining Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Will Farrell, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louise-Dreyfus. Show creator and producer Lorne Michaels won in 2004.
The ceremony will be broadcast nationally on CNN on March 26.