was popular during his ‘90s stint on Saturday Night Live, but he wasn’t without controversy. The 1994-1995 season, his last one on the show, was a notorious failure with both critics and viewers, pulling in some of the lowest ratings of the show’s history and bringing it close to cancellation. Janeane Garofalo, who joined the show that year and quit three months before the season ended, blasted the show for its “juvenile and homophobic” sketches and “boys’ club” mentality, and it seems like there’s a good chance Sandler and his close friend Chris Farley had a lot to do with that atmosphere. At the end of that season both Sandler and Farley were fired by Lorne Michaels, who was feeling pressure from NBC to make significant changes to the show’s talent lineup and culture. It worked out fine for Sandler, of course—Billy Madison had opened earlier that year and was a surprise hit, and soon he became one of the biggest comedy stars in Hollywood.
Despite his success and SNL’s love of bringing back its old cast, Sandler has never actually hosted the show. He only made two cameos on the show after being fired, both to sing a song, and the second of those was almost 17 years ago. He also did a Digital Short with Andy Samberg on the show’s 40th anniversary special. But since 1995 there’s been very little Sandler on the show that first turned him into a star, which makes his hosting gig this weekend particularly notable. None of his famous characters have appeared on SNL in 24 years, which means they might actually feel fresh and funny if they show up, as opposed to how the show typically confuses repetition and nostalgia.
To commemorate his return, SNL released the following ad earlier today. It’s legitimately funny, starting as a wistful stroll down memory lane before taking a turn into something darker and more uncomfortable. As hard as it might be to believe, there was a time when Kenan Thompson wasn’t on SNL, and he was never actually on the show alongside Sandler. Still, he’s the best possible cast member to use for this specific joke, and it just feels right that the two would be old friends.
Check out the ad below and don’t forget to tune in to or record SNL this week if you’ve been waiting almost a quarter-century for Opera Man to return.