So one day, back in April, with most of the country sheltering in place, Rob Schneider got a summons from his collaborator of 30 years. “Adam Sandler just called me up and said, ‘Come on over but you can’t come in.’ That’s about it,” Schneider tells Fatherly.
The end result was a standout moment (blink and you miss it, so please don’t blink) in the Saturday Night Live short Stuck in the House, about the joys of COVID-19 quarantine and the stir-craziness that leads Sandler to wear his underwear on his head. Schneider gleefully delivers his signature line from The Waterboy: “You can do it!” The schtick was equal parts ridiculous and weirdly heartfelt, which basically describes most of Schneider’s on-screen work. He’s played a fish-tank cleaner-turned man whore in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. A petty thief who switches bodies with a cheerleader in The Hot Chick. And a gyrating Townie in The Waterboy.
And he delves into the dark underbelly of potty training, lactose intolerance, and why sex is a runner-up to cookies in his latest comedy special, Asian Momma, Mexican Kids, airing on Netflix on August 11. The next movie he does, back when such things become safe and feasible on a large scale, will be something his two younger daughters, who are 7 and 3, can actually watch. “I’m really enjoying seeing my little kids laughing,” he says, adding that his girls have seen only a handful of his oeuvre. “The Hot Chick, they have to be about 12 to see. There’s no malice in it but some of the sexuality is a little bit much.”
This is why we love Schneider: he’s not clamoring for anyone’s approval and doesn’t particularly care what you think of him — but malicious, he is not. In fact, during an afternoon interview, he’s genteel and polite, the antithesis of the various crackpots he plays in the 18 movies he’s done with Sandler. Check out what Schneider told Fatherly about dad- friendships, making his kids laugh, and why politics and comedy don’t make for great bedfellows.
So nice to connect, Rob. How are things over at your end?
Just letting the kids play with video while we do this. I know, I’m a terrible parent. This has been a tough five months, hasn’t it? Good luck to you. I know it’s been difficult.
My oldest one (singer Elle King) owns a ranch now. That’s when you know you’re off the hook, when she buys cattle and horses. I have a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old. It’s the most fun. Just being around these little tiny toes.
What’s been the most enjoyable part of fatherhood?
Focusing on those sweet little moments with your young kids — seeing the pure joy in their faces. Not every day can be Christmas but it doesn’t have to be. You realize you’re only excited when they are.
They all have their moments. They say kids are the best and worst of you. That’s really true. The most fiery is the oldest one, Elle. The funniest one is the little one. The dreamer is my middle child. She sees the world as a dreamy beautiful place. That’s how you should see it because that’s how it is.
How do you raise nice kids, when you can buy them whatever they want?
I think it’s OK to spoil them but they need to have ramifications for bad behavior. Just because you can buy toys every day doesn’t mean you should. It got to the point that we were giving toys away and they didn’t miss them. We give them one toy at a time and let them play with it. You want to make sure they don’t live in a disposable culture.
The idea is to make mistakes and they’ll make mistakes. If you try to go through life seeking perfection, they need to see the reality and what it takes to recover from things and get back up.
You have done myriad accents on screen, and you’ve said you like characters you can completely hide behind. Do you perform for your daughters?
Sometimes, yes. When I read. They definitely prefer me reading because I can do the different voices. Harry Potter is the one my 7-year-old is digging now. There’s only so many English voices I have. You don’t want to see me in my pajamas.
Who do you go to for advice?
Do I have dad friends? Yeah, yeah, I do. I have some people I go to if I have questions, for sure.
You’ve made an insane 18 films with Sandler. Your relationship has lasted longer than most marriages. What’s your secret?
Thirty-something years. It’s going on our fifth decade. I think it’s making each other laugh. We still surprise each other, in how we can make each other laugh. It’s always a challenge. There’s a lot of trust. When you’re making a movie, you need to trust the people. Trust is there. You want to be around people who know you and don’t ask too many questions.
So of the two of you, who’s the cooler dad?
I’ve never taken my kids to Africa like he took his kids so I give Adam the nod. He’s great. He’s genuinely that great. He’s the nicest guy in the history of show business, without a doubt.
What would he say about you?
Probably that I’m compulsive-obsessive about vitamins. He likes that I can get lost in a character completely.
You’ve stayed away from politics in your standup comedy where others have embraced it. Why?
I didn’t do any political comedy. It’s too simplistic. I find it to be so polarized. People turn off. Unfortunately, I think you have people who have completely lost all their sense of humor. It becomes impossible to meet in the middle. My mom was a Democrat. My dad was a Republican. It never bothered them. I think we should have 20 parties.
They should fine you for not voting. You don’t vote? You pay $40. It’s a spanking but it’s not taking away food money. People need to involve themselves.
You’ve been vocal about having more conservative views. Have you gotten pushback for your views?
Yeah, yeah, a lot. If you make fun of liberals, you’re going to get attacked. If you make fun of conservatives, you get branded as a stereotypical Hollywood person. I try to make fun of both. I’m a classic liberal. You’re for equal rights, equal pay, civil rights, gay rights — who isn’t?
Twitter is now a screaming match. Twitter has devolved and hurt public discourse. It’s like throwing mud from one side of the fence to the other side of the fence. This cancel culture is real and it’s continuing and I don’t want to be a part of it.