With Adam Sandler coming back to host Saturday Night Live for the first time since he left the show (or was fired, as he sang about alongside Chris Rock in his monologue) nearly a quarter-century ago, certain things were a given. We got Opera Man, naturally, and the cast all did their best Sandler impressions in a Sandler family reunion sketch. Plus, noted nice guy Sandler was reliably effusive and gracious in praising his present-day SNL successors and former boss Lorne Michaels in the monologue and the goodnights. (It was NBC and not Lorne who really fired Sandler back in 1995, after all.) But it was the last bit of the night that was the biggest hit, as Sandler broke out his guitar for an encore of the tribute song he penned for his late friend Chris Farley.
Debuted in Sandler’s recent Netflix stand-up special, the song is Sandler at his most sweetly sincere, even when crooning in a touchingly unaffected voice about the infamously overindulgent Farley sticking an empty Jack Daniels bottle up his ass. (Before, as Sandler sang, always getting up early enough for the hung-over “Catholic boy” Farley to make it to Sunday mass.) For old pro Sandler to come back and host SNL was a mixed bag, sure. But, as he noted feelingly while addressing his wife and kids in the audience during the goodnights, Sandler never had more fun or was happier then when he was on SNL, and nobody made him happier there than Farley, who died young. In his song, Sandler related how he and others (Sandler, Rock, David Spade, and Farley all famously shared an office) warned their friend that his various addictions were likely to send him—like Farley heroes John Belushi and John Candy—to a too-soon grave. Sandler’s lyric about Farley thinking that was “just dandy” found Sandler giving the anecdote an achingly rueful tone matched only by the enthusiasm with which the SNL audience made enough noise, at Sandler’s urging, for the absent Farley to maybe hear them all the way from his old home in Studio 8H.