Jokes From Adam Sandler’s Network Debut on David Letterman That Show Exactly Where He Was Headed

Jokes From Adam Sandler’s Network Debut on David Letterman That Show Exactly Where He Was Headed

For the younger generation, it’s hard to imagine a time when Adam Sandler wasn’t a mainstay on every late-night comedy show in both network and broadcast television, but there’s a first time for everything — even learning Catherine O’Hara’s name.

In 1991, The Sandman made his network television debut on Late Night with David Letterman, shortly after the start of his first full season on Saturday Night Live. Sandler’s short stand-up set on the legendary late-night show is a fascinating case study in a comedian somehow remaining the exact same Sandler for his entire career, down to the basketball jokes and meandering stories about basically nothing.

Sandler was only 25 in his network TV debut, but despite his youthful jitters and relatively raw delivery, the comedy he performed that fateful night could have been from any era of his three-decade career — well, maybe not from The Ridiculous 6. These jokes are actually funny.

The Wilt Chamberlain jokes are obviously the most Sandler-esque by modern standards — the comedian has never made a secret of his love of basketball, but it would still take him about another 30 years before he found out that he could make critically acclaimed movies about how much he really, seriously loves basketball.

The bizarre riff on the Snickers commercial lasts about a minute longer than it feels like it should, a bad habit Sandler would come to correct — his most recent movie, Murder Mystery 2, checks in at a merciful 89 minutes.

The set does contain an incredibly rare piece of Sandler comedy toward the end of the spot, however. In his SNL years and beyond, The Sandman was somewhat notorious for not even attempting celebrity impressions, and yet he broke out his Elvis for a bit about lettuce in sandwiches that didn’t feel entirely worth the trip, much like The Do Over

Overall, the fact that Sandler’s Late Night set feels so authentically Adam Sandler speaks to his ability to stay true to his own voice through all the peaks and valleys of his long and fruitful career. But seriously though, SNL cast members should know the next host’s name, especially when it’s Catherine Freaking O’Hara.

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