Adam Sandler’s comedy isn’t for everyone — the broad, scatalogical, somewhat sophomoric humour in movies like Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, and Little Nicky — but there’s no question he has been hugely successful. And yet, he seems like such a genuinely nice and down-to-earth person, unlike the driven, succeed-at-all-costs type of person you might think might be behind that $4 billion in box office sales. Everyone who spoke during the tribute at the Kennedy Center when he got the Mark Twain Award for Humour seemed devoted to him, including many comedians you might expect would normally be competitors. How did this happen? I was struck by what Sandler said when he got up to give his acceptance speech, because it was a deceptively simple recipe for success, and yet it clearly worked:
“I’ll tell you what kind of led me to this night. Growing up, my parents did everything they could to give me crazy confidence at literally everything I did. School, sports, singing, joking, they acted like I was the best at all those things, even though other kids were way better than me. My sisters, Elizabeth and Valerie, they included me in everything they did. They would always tell me to sing, tell stories, they’d go to all my games, they’d root for me. They’d even take me on dates with their boyfriends. They just always made me feel like I was the star of the family. My older brother, Scott, I shared a bedroom with him my whole childhood, and he was always nice to me. He would tell me, I’m funny all the time. He’d say I was great on the guitar.
When it came time to pick my college major, my brother said, “You should be an actor. You’re as funny as Rodney Dangerfield and Eddie Murphy.” And I never thought that, but he sort of made me feel like I was. He’s the one who brought me to do a standup comedy at Stitches Comedy Club. He set it all up. He says, you’re gonna get on stage, you have five minutes to do jokes. So I went up there, I was terrible. I don’t even know what I said. I was like in a fog. Those weird fogs you get when you’re a standup sometimes where you lose your mind. I just kind of was babbling. Anyways, I left. For some reason on the way home, my brother made me feel like I had the best set of any comedian that night. And he’s like, you just gotta prepare next time. But they loved you. And in my head I was like, “They did?”
Imagine what we could accomplish if we all had that kind of constant love and support behind us!