Remembering Chris Farley
Written by Tom Farley, Chris' older brother, and Tanner Colby, co-author of "Belushi: A Biography," the book is an inside look at the light and dark that surrounded the late "Saturday Night Live" star's life. As you may or may not already know, Chris grew up in Madison, went to Edgewood High School and later Marquette University in Milwaukee before "SNL" honcho Lorne Michaels discovered him at Chicago's famed Second City. From there, his rise was rather meteoric, with Farley all but owning "SNL" along with Adam Sandler and David Spade in the '90s, which led to big-time movie roles.
Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997 at the age of 33 -- the same age as his comedy idol, John Belushi. While the Belushi comparisons -- TV critic Tom Shales once said Farley would try to find Belushi's pants in wardrobe and wear them on the show -- have all but defined him, as the Journal-Sentinel interview with Tom notes, Chris' history of alcohol (and later drug) abuse dates back to his family's penchant for excess.
In addition to family members, others interviewed for the book include Spade, Michaels, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Al Franken, Conan O'Brien, Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo, Tim Meadows, John Goodman, Sarah Silverman and Chevy Chase. One of the more telling quotes is from Rock, who saw him after a stand-up gig in 1997: "He was so drunk. I remember dropping him off at his (Chicago) apartment. He wanted me to come up and see his place, and I just didn't have it in me. He was so (messed) up, I just couldn't go up there. And as I drove away, I knew. It had gotten to that point. I knew that was the last time I'd ever see him alive."
Say what you want about Farley's window of stardom or how he died, but it isn't an overstatement to say he helped define my generation's idea of comedy. In fact, it's all anyone in my high school ever did -- mimic Matt Foley's herky-jerky mannerisms or endlessly quote "fat guy in a little coat" from "Tommy Boy" or "him and her GOT IT ON" from "Billy Madison." Sure, there might have been more sophisticated humor out there, but to most teenagers, it was pretty hard to top Chris Farley.
The book comes out today. Feel free to share a favorite Farley comedy sketch or movie bit below. Me? I'm going with Schmitt's Gay.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org