Rob Schneider: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Adam Sandler bit player Rob Schneider is back in the comedy news spotlight, courtesy of a recent interview with The Blaze’s Glenn Beck in which he declared that his former employer, Saturday Night Live, was “over.” Rob Schneider, ladies and gentlemen, swinging for the fences! With a comic career that has roller-coastered up, down, and sideways since the mid-1980s, it makes sense that Schneider would have an opinion or two about comedy. Let’s do a deep dive into the Robmeister’s career, divvying up the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The Good: Early stand-up
As a young stand-up comic, Schneider was an absolute comer in the late 1980s. He scored on Letterman and killed it on the HBO Young Comedians Special. His bit on the adaptability of the word “dude” was a classic. He was even, strange to say, cool.
Ubiquitous bit player Fred Stoller, another comic featured on the special, was impressed, calling Rob “boyish and charming, but, with his western jacket and black pompadour, perhaps a bit more dangerous: a combination of Elvis and the Fonz.”
He was also absurdly confident. After Lorne Michaels got a peek at the HBO special and checked out Schneider’s set at the Hollywood Improv, the Saturday Night Live producer requested a meeting the following morning. No can do, said Schneider, who had a $75 gig in San Diego that day. If Lorne wanted to meet him, Rob proclaimed, the producer would just have to fly the comic out to New York.
(Schneider thought twice about his ultimatum later. “I’m driving down to San Diego that night, and I get the coldest sweat. My balls stuck up into my abdomen, and I said, ‘Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?’”)
It must have been one hell of a set at the Improv. Lorne flew him out and Schneider got the gig.
The Good: You can do it!
There are probably worse things in comedy than becoming an enduring gif. Adam Sandler’s most frequent collaborator (15 flicks and counting!) first shouted the line in The Waterboy, a glorified cameo that has lived on for decades. It’s not a particularly funny line, though Sandler correctly predicted that people on the streets would be yelling it at Schneider forever.
The genius part was finding ways to make this stupidity a running bit over several films, including The Longest Yard, Grown-Ups, and Hubie Halloween. It’s one of those jokes that isn’t amusing at first, then somehow becomes absurdly hilarious the more times it’s repeated. And who doesn’t love seeing which ethnic stereotype -- a Hawaiian doofus, a Middle Eastern delivery boy, an Asian minister -- that Schneider will employ to shout his famous catchphrase? Crazy ethnic accents, boy, you can’t beat ‘em.
The Bad: Endlessly recurring characters
Schneider was a decent enough SNL cast member -- not an all-timer but a sturdy contributor from 1990 to 1994. Unfortunately for Rob, he appeared at a time when Lorne Michaels had no issue running even modestly popular characters straight into the ground. That meant Schneider’s initially amusing Richard Laymer (see what he did there?) AKA The Richmeister AKA The Makin’ Copies Guy showed up no less than nine times. The best version was the first one, with Schneider’s office wonk using his nicknaming skills on coworker Sting.
Unfortunately, the one-joke premise quickly wore out its welcome. By the time the Richmeister shows up in Waco, Texas for a government siege in which 76 people died, you know it was time to retire the bit.
The Bad: His solo movie career
We get it. No one sets out to have a less-than-stellar film resume. If Rob Schneider would have been offered the lead roles in There’s Something About Mary or Office Space, we’re sure he would have jumped at the chance. But since those offers presumably never came, his IMDB is littered with the likes of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
You know, the idea of goofy Schneider as a sexy gigolo is actually pretty funny. But the execution was slapdash and crass, adjectives that could be used to describe his roles in The Animal (Schneider gets magical animal powers!) and The Hot Chick (Schneider gets magical girl powers!). If his solo movies have anything in common, it’s that the plots seem better suited for six-minute SNL sketches than 90-minute features.
The Ugly: Schneider’s urinating hamster phase
We don’t begrudge past-their-prime celebrities taking gigs on reality shows like The Masked Singer. Heck, if you’ve got an album or Netflix special to promote, it actually makes sense. That doesn’t mean you have to dress up like a hamster who pretends to pee on Nick Cannon. We prefer our masked singers to be of the non-humping variety.
The Ugly: Self-appointed comedy czar
Yep, Schneider is a political conservative. That’s not our problem. (It was State Farm’s problem though. Schneider was a spokesperson for the insurance provider--once again playing the Makin’ Copies guy--until he was dropped for his anti-vax views. By the way, that was in 2014. You can’t say the Robmeister wasn’t ahead of his time.)
But the one-time Democrat is now condemning comedy through his newly myopic lens. He didn’t like Kate McKinnon’s rendition of Hallelujah after Hilary Clinton lost the election? Sure, his prerogative. But he went a step further:
“There was no joke at the end, and I went, ‘It’s over. It’s over. (SNL) is not going to come back.'”
The show is “over,” thanks to one song and Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression? (Schneider has been complaining about that one for years.) A show that has regularly lampooned Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama? It’s a weird death proclamation, considering the show is still going strong six years after the sketches that offended him so.
But Schneider has a problem with all late-night comedy. “It’s all just indoctrination by comedic imposition,” he says, imagining a leftist think tank puppeteering Jimmy Fallon to recruit future socialists.
Beck recognized that roasting SNL might not be good for Schneider’s comedy career, asking him if he was “willing to lose it all” for his conservative beliefs. “Absolutely,” Rob replied.
We guess if “losing it all” means no more humping hamster gigs, it’s worth the risk.
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Top image: Fox