By Piya Sinha-Roy
May 05, 2019 at 12:26 AM EDT
Will Heath/NBC
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Adam Sandler returned to the hallowed stage at NBC’s Studio 8H to make his hosting debut on Saturday Night Live, 24 years after he left the show as a cast member.

Sandler, who has since become one of SNL‘s most successful alumni, was part of the “Bad Boys of SNL” group alongside the likes of Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Tim Meadows, David Spade, and of course, his frequent sketch collaborator, the late Chris Farley. Sandler’s most famous sketches included Canteen Boy, Opera Man, and Lunch Lady Land.

Cold open

Steering clear of this week’s political scandals, SNL turned to the big pop culture moments instead, kicking off the show with a special edition of Family Feud: The Avengers vs. Game of Thrones. Kenan Thompson’s Steve Harvey (“I am Steve, of House Mustache”) hosted a lively contest between Team Avengers —Thor, Thanos, Okoye, and Leslie Jones as Groot (“Bitch, I’m Groot”) — and Team GoT, made up of Brienne, Tormund, Melisandre, and Bran.

Thompson kept the skit moving with timely quips, such as the past week’s debate over whether Game of Thrones‘ epic battle episode “The Long Night” was too dark for some viewers — “You know it’s too dark when you can’t even see the white people in the show.”

Of course, it was Arya Stark who jumped in at the last minute to save the day for Team GoT.

Monologue

Sandler took the stage to huge applause, saying, “I can’t believe I’m back at Saturday Night Live after all this time.” After some reminiscing about his time at the show (“I had some of the best years of my life here, I actually lost my virginity to a woman in this studio — I don’t kiss and tell but it was the Church Lady. She said I was special”), Sandler decided to sing a song that explained why he left the show: he was fired.

“I was fired, so sad to tell, well I never saw it coming, I got fired from SNL / Between seasons, I heard a nasty rumor that I was getting the sack, tried to call Lorne Michaels, but he never called me back / I guess NBC had enough of Crazy Spoon Head and the songs I sang on the news / Maybe they were sick of Canteen Boy, but I think they just hate the Jews.”

And of course, Sandler couldn’t sing about his firing without bringing up Farley: “I was fired, not rehired, well it made me sad and blue / I told my boy Chris Farley that I got fired, and he said, ‘Sandman, they fired my a– too.”

His former castmate Chris Rock then joined him on stage to sing a verse about his own firing, before Pete Davidson also came on for a quick cameo. But then Sandler stepped back in the spotlight to sing his final verse, delivering a sharp jab.

“Well, I was fired, I was fired, NBC said that I was done / Then I made of $4 billion at the box office, so I guess you could say I won.”

I think you might be right about that, Sandman.

The Sketches

Sandler Family Reunion: You can tell this is the sketch that the SNL cast was excited for this week as they came together to put their best Sandler character impressions to the test. Sandler, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, was surrounded at the Sander Family Reunion by his family members, all of whom seem quite familiar. Mikey Day and Kyle Mooney channeled Billy Madison as they give Sandler updates on their lives, Pete played a version of the quirky Little Nicky, Melissa Villaseñor was the awkward Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy, and Beck Bennett the harangued Robbie Hart from The Wedding Singer. “We were so happy to have cousin Adam here but watch out because you might end up in one of his movies,” Davidson’s Little Nicky said as Sandler replied, “Maybe I borrowed some stuff from you, but I did it out of love.”

Kristen Wiig also turned up as Sandler’s mother from The Waterboy, screeching, “They’re all going to laugh at you,” and Jimmy Fallon dropped in to do his own Sandler impression (the comedian’s a big Sandler fan) playing Papa Sandler, even leading the cast in a sing-a-long of Sandler’s famous “The Hanukkah Song.”

Joe Romano of Romano Tours: Sandler donned a tan suit and some slicked-back hair as Joe Romano of Romano Tours, touting “high-quality tours of Italy for people all over the world, but mostly from Long Island and Jersey.” But the point he kept hammering home was that a trip to even the most idyllic place “cannot change you.” “See Venice, the city of wetness, point and laugh at the Leaning Tower of Pisa… but I’d like to remind our customers, if you’re sad now, you might still feed sad there.”

Father-Son Erectile Dysfunction Commercial: Sandler and Beck Bennett had a heart-to-heart about erectile dysfunction on the front porch, as Sandler pulled out a new pill called Rectix to insert (where else?) anally, leading to jokes about butt plugs and awkward parent-children conversations about sexual performance. Aidy Bryant played the mother who informed her uncomfortable son that the pills were dishwasher safe, before Sandler said, “You know son, why don’t you borrow mine?”

Last Call: A greasy Sandler sat at the bar alongside McKinnon, getting a little flirty. While bartender Thompson watched the seedy pair get closer, an overly tanned Wiig popped up (quite literally from under the bar) and sidled up to McKinnon, introducing herself as Sandler’s wife (“God must have spent a little more time on you because there’s so many ideas going on here,” McKinnon said as she caressed Wiig’s face). “How should we start this little menage-a-troilette?” Sandler asked as the three then “freshened up” with Windex and engaged in a saliva-filled three-way makeout session as a disgusted Thompson watched on (“just get your gross on already”). “Since we’re all dogs, there’s only one thing to do — let’s Lady and the Tramp this sucker” McKinnon said as the three then threw spaghetti into the mix and things got even grosser — perhaps putting viewers off spaghetti forever (eh, who are we kidding? We love spaghetti).

Weekend Update — and the return of Opera Man

It’s been another stressful week in politics, so Michael Che and Colin Jost wasted no time getting down to business. Jost opened up Weekend Update with the news that Attorney General William Barr declined to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week, saying, “I guess our country just doesn’t have rules anymore.” Che followed up with an update on the Mueller report, quipping, “Man, just steal the report — they found 30,000 of Hilary’s deleted emails.”

Kate McKinnon also turned up as Elizabeth Warren to talk about her student loan forgiveness plan (“I wish I could be forgiven for some of the things I did in college”), before laying into the other Democratic presidential candidates such as “Beto O’Dork” and Joe Biden, “the Amtrak masseuse,” with a quick dig at the current president, saying “impeachment is this guy’s middle name — that, and jacka–.”

Che and Jost got into a better rhythm as they then broke down some of the other headlines of the week, from the record viewership of last week’s Game of Thrones episode (“17 million viewers, all using the same 10 HBO Go passwords”) to a woman getting stung by more than 200 bees when a beehive blew onto her head, with Che commiserating that no one had been on hand to record the incident on video.

But it was the return of Sandler’s caped Opera Man that was the highlight this week. Opera Man took on Game of Thrones (“we can’t wait for the final show so we can cancel our HBO-oh”), the Kentucky Derby (“Winning horse is magnifioso, losing horse is delicioso”), NBA star James Harden’s eye-watering encounter with Draymond Green’s fingers (“Draymond poke him in eye-o”), and the Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron rom-com Long Shot (“pretty lady, goofy man, Opera Man no understand-o… where have I seen this before-o?” as a montage of Sandler’s movies appeared behind him). It should be noted that Rogen immediately tweeted his appreciation after Opera Man’s shout-out:

He then got into politics, quipping about the “70-year-old men” (Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden) and their presidential campaigns, Barr being a no-show in court (“check every single Wendy’s”), and digging into Trump (“Trumpa, dumpa, they afraid to impeach, I get to make-a the wall, and Putin makes me his beetch”).

Musical Guest: Shawn Mendes

The 20-year-old heartthrob — and his biceps — showed off his sultry live vocals on his catchy new bop “If I Can’t Have You,” a surefire contender for the pop song of the summer. He — and his biceps — later took to the piano for the second song, his melancholy ballad “In My Blood.” Mendes also had a role in the Sandler Family Reunion sketch, showing off his acting chops as well at Studio 8H. It’s looking pretty likely that the sky’s the limit for this multi-talented star.

Chris Farley Tribute

It’s impossible to think about Sandler’s time on SNL without thinking of Farley, and he put aside time at the end of the show to pay tribute to the late comedian, who died in 1997 from a drug overdose. Sandler penned an emotional tribute to Farley as part of his Netflix comedy special 100% Fresh, and played a version of the song on the SNL stage. Make sure you have some tissues handy as you’re bound to get teary as Sandler sings about his friend and how hard it was to say goodbye to him.

Sandler closed out the show by saying, “I can’t tell you, that really felt amazing. To my wife and kids, I’m glad you got to witness that because I loved it here.”

Up Next

Emma Thompson will make her hosting debut on May 11, with the Jonas Brothers as musical guest.

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The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.
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