San Francisco Chronicle
Rock jokes about Paul Pelosi at Sandler ceremony
Chris Rock is not over that Oscars slap.
During the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoring Adam Sandler, the comedian again referenced the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony when Will Smith walked onstage and slapped Rock, comparing the incident to the attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, who was hospitalized after a man broke into their San Francisco home and beat him with a hammer.
“Paul Pelosi (is) the only guy who knows how I felt,” Rock quipped at the ceremony hosted at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on Sunday, March 19, as the Pelosis watched from the audience. “Just me and you, Paul. Just me and you, babe.”
Sharing a few jokes that didn’t make the cut in his recent Netflix special, “Selective Outrage,” Rock joined a lineup of comedians, actors and filmmakers who praised Sandler, with Dana Carvey and Bay Area native Rob Schneider offering a musical tribute to their former “Saturday Night Live” co-star.
Rock also took the Academy Awards to task for snubbing Sandler despite his extensive body of work and many latecareer triumphs.
“Those folks at the Oscars, they’re f—ing assholes,” he said. “If they don’t want to give my man his props, then we will tonight.”
The entire ceremony, featuring Rock’s full remarks along with those of Drew Barrymore, Steve Buscemi and David Spade, will be broadcast on CNN at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 26.
Sandler, 56, who was honored for his wealth of beloved but critically derided films such as “Billy Madison” and “The Wedding Singer,” also seemed to reference the Pelosi attack in his comments.
While holding the bronze bust of Mark Twain, the comedian who has earned more than $4 billion at the box office said, “As I look at this goofy award I’m holding, I just can’t help but think this just may be the weapon used to bludgeon me, by an angry intruder … or Mr. Rob Schneider.”
Sandler is the 24th recipient
of the Mark Twain Prize. Other comedians who received the lifetime achievement award include inaugural honoree Richard Pryor in 1998, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, who last year toured with Rock.
Although primarily known for slapstick comedy and overgrown manchild characters often featuring his best friends such as Rock, Spade and Schneider, Sandler has excelled in dramatic roles in films such as “Punch Drunk Love” (2002) and “Uncut Gems” (2019).
Luis Guzman, who co-starred in “Punch Drunk Love,” admitted he originally thought Sandler was “out of his depth” in a dramatic role scripted by auteur director Paul Thomas Anderson. But he came away impressed and praised Sandler’s “total commitment to something that was so far out of his element.”
Still, Sandler’s longtime writing and production partner Tim Herlihy couldn’t help but joke that the pair have been responsible for “31 motion pictures with a combined Rotten Tomatoes score of 59.”
“You’re making a terrible, terrible mistake,” Conan O’Brien told the Kennedy Center at the beginning of the ceremony.
He added, “A lot of amazing, amazing people have flown to D.C. to say nice things about Adam Sandler. But have you asked yourself why so many of Adam’s friends were available to speak tonight? I’ll tell you why. ’Cause when Adam isn’t working, they’re not working.”
Sandler, who was dressed in a suit “for the second time” in his life, told reporters on the red carpet ahead of the ceremony that he “never thought about this in my entire life, never expected anything like this.”
Director and screenwriter Judd Apatow, Sandler’s roommate during their early days in Los Angeles, recalled a young Sandler’s boundless confidence and obvious talent.
“The moment you met him, you knew Adam was going to be a big star,” Apatow said. “And so did Adam.”
At the end of the ceremony, Sandler, who’s from Manchester, N.H., paid tribute to his parents and siblings for arming him with “that weird irrational confidence” that propelled him through his three-decade career.
“When someone asks me, ‘Those bad reviews you get — how does that make you feel?’ The reason they don’t hurt me is because … everything we do together makes me feel like the critics don’t know what they’re talking about,” Sandler said.