30 Years Ago: Adam Sandler Releases Album ‘Too Filthy’ for ‘SNL’
"There were skits and songs and stuff that I wanted to do but didn't think I could get on SNL because they were too filthy," Sandler told Spin in 2013.
Instead, much of that material would become Sandler's first album, They're All Gonna Laugh at You!
More Than Just Another Stand-up Comedy Album
At a time when many of his contemporaries were making stand-up comedy albums, the 27-year-old Sandler was looking to the past for inspiration.
"Everyone thought I wanted to make a stand-up record, but I wanted to do something more like Cheech & Chong, with sketches and everything," Sandler told Spin. "That was the idea."
SNL head honcho Lorne Michaels introduced Sandler to Warner Bros. Records chairman Mo Ostin. The record mogul connected him with producer Brooks Arthur, whose credits included albums by Robin Williams and Jackie Mason.
Thus began a 29-year partnership that produced some of Sandler's best work. Before dying in 2022, Arthur produced all of Sandler's comedy albums in addition to working as a music supervisor on many of his films.
"Nobody like that man on the planet," Sandler wrote in an Instagram post the day of Arthur's death. "Pure kindness. Loving. Giving. Creative. Patient. Soulful. Super human being. A true mensch."
With a Grammy-winning producer onboard, Sandler now needed to assemble a team of co-stars and writers for They're All Gonna Laugh at You!
Fellow SNL performers Chris Farley, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Tim Meadows signed on to the project. Writers included Conan O'Brien, Robert Smigel and Tim Herlihy, Sandler's college roommate who'd helped him craft his stand-up material.
"Sandler was still getting his feet wet on the show, and with SNL you have to write the skit, then run it by the head writer and Lorne, and then get the host to be into it," Herlihy told Spin. "Doing an album was taking undiluted Sandler right to America."
The Music of 'They're All Gonna Laugh at You!'
They're All Gonna Laugh at You! gave Sandler another outlet for his music, which had only briefly been featured on SNL. But his foray into music started long before his comedy journey.
Sandler told NPR in 2023 that he was in bands as far back as sixth grade. Eventually, he strayed from his bandmates as everyone went off to separate colleges.
"And I thought maybe I'd start a band at NYU," Sandler told NPR. "And then I saw these guys playing. And everybody was literally 20 times better than me. I was like, what the hell is going on at this school? Everybody was Eddie Van Halen."
They're All Gonna Laugh at You! features five songs, two of which Sandler had previously performed on SNL. "Lunchlady Land," co-written with Bob Odenkirk and others, chronicles the life of a school cafeteria worker with several shoutouts of stereotypical public school lunch items. "The Thanksgiving Song" first appeared during a Weekend Update on the Nov. 21, 1992 episode of SNL. Both songs appear on the album as live renditions recorded at the Strand in Redondo Beach, California, in 1993.
Watch Adam Sandler Perform 'The Thanksgiving Song' on 'SNL'
"Farley was there that night and screaming encouragement the whole time," Sandler told Spin of the Strand gig. "The crowd had a more electric feel that night because Farley was in the audience. You can single out Farley yelling on 'The Thanksgiving Song.'"
The inclusion of songs that were already familiar to Sandler's audience proved a smart move once "The Thanksgiving Song" started to get radio play, giving casual listeners an easy gateway into They're All Gonna Laugh at You! The album went on to sell more than 2 million copies and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album, losing to Sam Kinison's Live From Hell.
Sandler released four more albums between 1993 and 2004, including the double-platinum What the Hell Happened to Me?, which includes his signature "The Chanukah Song." He moved away from the medium as he became a blockbuster movie star, but he looked back fondly on the experience and said he would love to do another one if the timing is right.
"Sometimes, people say I should do another album and it does stop me a little bit in my tracks," he told Spin. "I'd love to do it, but it's putting aside time that's the problem. I don’t know … there's other guys doing good stuff, no one needs me. But I'd love to do it — those were some of the best times of my life."
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Gallery Credit: Corey Irwin