Adam Sandler has had a busy year with three movies releases (Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, Mr. Deeds, Punch-Drunk Love) grossing a combine $165 million. With his pay check now at $20-25 million per movie, this joker is proving to be a serious Hollywood player. Even those who don’t appreciate his humor must take notice of his success. In the spirit of his recently released movie Eight Crazy Nights, here are Eight Not So Crazy Life Lessons from Adam Sandler.
1. Believe in yourself By his own admission, his first stand up gig at the Pip’s club in Sheepshead Bay in 1987, was “really horrible.” As a college student at NYU’s prestigious film school, his professors concluded he had neither focus nor talent. One of his teachers, Mel Gordon, even took him out for a beer to give him “the talk.” But rather than being discouraged by these events, he used it as motivation to hone his craft. “I think that disapproval was a great inspiration,” Gordon recalled in “Adam Sandler: America’s Comedian” by Bill Crawford.
2. Find a champion When reaching for your goals find a mentor, someone whose opinion you trust, to keep you in check and not let your dreams ruin you. Conversely, this mentor can encourage you during the down times. Sandler credits his brother Scott for giving him the courage to try his hand at comedy. “If he hadn’t said to do it,” said Sandler, “I wouldn’t have thought it was the thing to do. My brothers and sisters were all dentists and lawyers. I was like the geek of the family.” During the 2002 Cannes Film Fest, while other celebs were busy hob knobbing with each other and the press, he headed for the basketball courts with his invited guest: his brother Scott.
3. Don’t abandon your Friends During Winona Ryder’s recent shop lifting ordeal Sandler stood by her. “I’ve been talking to Winona, and making sure she’s happy and OK and getting through all that,” Sandler told The Post, in an exclusive interview during the Cannes Film Festival. “She’s a funny girl, and hopefully that stuff will be in her past soon.” In kind, Ryder told W magazine that Sandler was “completely the most noble person you would ever meet.” “Mr. Deeds”, the movie that Ryder and Sandler costarred in grossed over $125 million in 2002- good enough for the 17th highest gross for the year.
4. Help Your Friends As Sandler has moved up, he’s consistently enlisted the talents of friends from his days at NYU, including his roommate and writing partner Tim Herlihy, and his former “SNL” cast mates. They in turn have kept him involved as well. He has produced, written or directed flicks starring funnymen Rob Schneider (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”), David Spade (“Joe Dirt”), Kevin Nealon (“Anger Management”), and Dana Carvey (“Master of Disguise”).
5. If you have nothing to say, keep your mouth closed In an age where stars travel to Iraq to get a firsthand look at the world problems- only to make it worse and appear on Barbara Walters and turn into incoherent criers– Sandler stays mum. He doesn’t even trumpet his charity work for Muscular Dystrophy (his 24-year-old cousin, Jana, was diagnosed with the disease five years ago). Why doesn’t he speak out? Some have suggested it’s a reaction to the bad press that Farley got after his death. Sandler has a more simple explanation. “Because,” he said, “I don’t have that many great things to say.”
6. Stick to your roots While other entertainers hide their Jewishness, going as far as changing their names- Sandler celebrates it. He’s given Jews a reason to celebrate with his three Hanukah songs and recent Hanukah movie, “Eight Crazy Nights”. In 1999, Sandler set a new record for the highest first-week sales for a comedy recording with his fourth CD, “Stan and Judy’s Kid” featuring the follow up to his original Hanukah Song. In 2002, his third Hanukah song accompanied his animated movie “Eight Crazy Nights”, which grossed nearly $25 million.
7. Don’t worry about the critics “I consider myself Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, with a touch of Three Stooges,” said Sandler to The Post. “I haven’t received too much critical success, but it’s not the reason I did what I did. I got into acting and comedy to be the best I could be in funny movies and make kids laugh.”
8. Know your strengths Throughout Sandler’s career he’s chosen specific roles that play into his strengths. You certainly won’t see him saving America as a young, earnest CIA agent any time soon. Sandler refreshingly understands why audiences connect with the small humor of his goofy soft-hearted losers.
Conclusion Mel Gordon, Sandler’s college professor who gave him the “talk”, concluded, “Adam had tremendous will and managed to invent a place for himself. If he had listened to his teachers, he never would have gotten anywhere.” I wonder who’s laughing now.