I Am Not Chris Farley, But I Wish I Was: A Reflection On Our “Biggest” Comedian

As much as I loved Nick and Diddy’s in depth analysis on five of the hottest incoming Hollywood offerings, I can’t help but feel that they missed one. A BIG ONE.

Yesterday I was checking Facebook when I saw a link to a video that had Chris Farley in it. I figured, okay, worst-case scenario I get Rick Roll’d. Best case scenario: I get to watch a funny video with Chris Farley in it. Pretty low risk proposition either way. But then, something wild happened.

To my unbelievable excitement , I was watching a trailer for a new documentary, I Am Chris Farley. I hate to say it, but not enough people our age have heard about the  hilarious, beloved, tragically deceased comedian. In the early 1990s, Farley was a key cast member in a Saturday Night Live lineup featuring Dan Aykroyd, Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. Almost all of these men (sorry to Rob Schneider’s days as a gigolo) have at one point been major stars over the past 20 years, but on that show, Chris Farley was the star with the brightest future.

I remember my first time watching Chris Farley at work. I was having a sleepover with my friend in the third grade and we managed to sneak a PG13 movie into his room when his mom thought we were asleep. That movie was Tommy Boy. I think about that night, just sitting there, watching a young David Spade and this massive ball of hilarity, completely oblivious to his identity. “Who is this guy”, I thought, “and how have I never heard of him?”

I watched through laugh-induced tears as Chris Farley put me on his back and embarked on one of the  stupidest fucking adventures in cinema. As dumb as the humor was, I could not help but laugh at the guy, and I still can’t. The pure physicality of his performance was breathtaking. Even now, everytime I knock on a hotel door I try, but fail, to resist the urge to squeak out a faint “Housekeeping.”

After watching Tommy Boy, I began to familiarize myself with Mr. Farley.  I watched all of his SNL skits from the irreverant “Da Bears” sketch to his famous “Down By the River” series. Sometimes, even now, I find myself watching clips of Chris Farley on Letterman. Just watching him interact with other human beings was a treat.

Farley was too large for life, in more ways than one. Between his ridiculously loud, outrageous comedic style and his not-so-borderline obesity, he never failed to make his audience laugh, and he sometimes even managed to make them them cry (mainly because they were laughing too hard).

With all of the Farley’s fame came the tumultuous famous lifestyle. In his all too short life, he sought help for drugs and obesity an astonishing 17 times. After just 7 years of tearing up both Hollywood and SNL, the lifestyle became too much for Farley, and  In 1997, he overdosed on cocaine and morphine. He was only 33.

The news came as an absolute shock to the entire acting community, and even today, Farley and his larger than life personality leave a hole in American comedy. In the trailer, David Spade, his SNL co-star, Tommy Boy co-star, and one of Farley’s best friend, admits that “[Chris’ death] comes up in something, in my mind everyday, and it probably will for the rest of my life.” Even Bob Saget was crying over the guy. Even so, It’s difficult to comprehend the gravity of that loss on the comedic community, considering that I, for one, was two and a half years old at the time of Farley’s death. But we still find ways to learn about the greats. Whether you come to associate Farley with his Chippendale’s dancer routine, a love of Ditka, or maybe even his elusive appearance in the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Soul to Squeeze music video, never forget that in 7 short years of fame, he singlehandedly flipped the world of comedy on its head. Even if many of you have forgotten, or never even heard of, the jolly fat man who screwed around with Adam Sandler on SNL, know that hundreds of today’s comedians and millions of comedy lovers around the world never will.

I Am Chris Farley comes out on August 1st, sold in VOD, On Demand, and DVD out of a van down by the river. You can watch the trailer here


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