If you’re an SNL nerd, you’re very familiar with Robert Smigel. He’s a longtime writer on the show and the guy who was behind “TV’s Funhouse” on SNL and “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. His name is not as big as some of the others of his era, but during his SNL heyday, he was tight with Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, Mr. Show), Greg Daniels (creator of The Office), and Conan O’Brien. In fact, Conan O’Brien was originally tapped to produce Late Night after David Letterman left, but when Conan was elevated to host, Robert Smigel ended up taking over as producer because that was his dream job.
In addition to those guys, however, Smigel was also close with Adam Sandler. Sandler, however, has not always been appreciated by some higher-brow comics, specifically Marc Maron, who admitted this week on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast that he used to think less of Robert Smigel because of his association with Sandler.
“I remember I used to judge you,” Maron told Smigel. “I’m not sure I always understood Sandler. At the time, I respected you, and I respected Adam, and I don’t want to get in trouble with Adam, because he’s done amazing things. But when I was a more c***ty, cocky guy …” he didn’t like Sandler as much. “He was funny, but you appreciated that.” The implication is that Maron did not.
Smigel said that there were some other comedians who thought as Maron did. In fact, he said, he used to get into arguments with Al Franken because Sandler would “write a piece, and people would assume it’s idiotic.” Smigel gave, as an example, Sandler’s “Canteen Boy” sketch. “It was so much more psychologically complex than 90 percent of the stuff being written, and I remember” defending that sketch to Al Franken, who didn’t think much of it:
“Sandler would write sketches, and me and Conan and Greg [Daniels] and Bob [Odenkirk] would be giggling like 5-year-olds in the corner of the read-through room. They would [otherwise] play to dead silence … I think he was ahead of his time. I think he was one of the most innovative writers that I came across on SNL … Sandler was one of the few people who was reinventing sketch structure back then. I swear to God. A lot of us were just writing simple sort of premise escalates sh*t, and they were smart and funny, but they weren’t as inventive of as fresh [as Sandler’s sketches].
“He was so pure,” Smigel continued. “He brought so much originality to the show. He didn’t fit any mold. He was in his own world. He had all these voices that you never heard done in comedy before.” Smigel often explained that Sandler took sophisticated ideas and “cloaked them in a silly voice.”
Maron explained that he used to make fun of Sandler less because of who he was, and more because of his fans, who Maron didn’t like.
“He can be sensitive about that stuff,” Smigel explained. “And I kind of didn’t blame him. And I’ll tell you why it didn’t bother me that he was sensitive. Because he was the kind of guy who would never go after another comedian. It’s not what he does. He doesn’t say anything negative about other people.” For instance, Smigel continued, “I might have a friend I really like who is sh*tting on a movie he made in an interview, and Adam will be like, ‘What the f**k is he doing that for? These people worked on that movie with him. They’re not stars like he is. Why’s he getting a laugh off of that for? Why is he taking a sh*t on these people who worked hard.”
Before the podcast ended, Smigel reiterated his feelings for Sandler. “He’s my favorite human being,” he said. “He’s my best friend in show business. I have to say that. He’s the closest thing I have to a brother. But the thing is, there’s like 15 people who can say that about him. He’s that kind of guy. He really made a difference in my life. He made me feel like myself more at a time when I was so wrapped up in SNL and that all I am is the work I come up with. I’m nothing but my output, and he connected with me in a way that no one else [did] at that show.”
Source: WTF with Marc Maron