The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by Tom Farley, Jr., and Tanner Colby

The Chris Farley Show

 The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts is a remembrance of Chris Farley as a person and a comic.  Comprised of interviews, the book is a surprisingly fast read.  The interviews come from his brothers, kids he grew up with, and people from the comedy world.  It was surprising to find out Chris was close to his brothers.  (His sister, Mary Anne, was older and doesn’t factor into many of the childhood stories.  It’s unclear if they weren’t close, if she declined to be interviewed, or if her interviews weren’t used.)  The book contains stories from all of them and there are many pictures of them together.

When someone has died it’s easy to remember only the “good” things about the person.  Though co-written by his brother, this book includes thoughts and opinions that don’t try to make Chris into a saint.  Chris was religious and one of his childhood friends became a priest.  Father Matt Foley and Chris spoke about faith and the temptations of drugs often.

The comedic decisions Chris made also provides conflicting views.  The first Saturday Night Live skit Chris became known for was the Chippendale dancer tryout with guest host Patrick Swayze.  Not everyone interviewed for the book thought it was funny.  One of the motivations for Chris to be funny was to please people (especially his father) and there are differing viewpoints on given on how to achieve this. 

I’ve never seen a movie starring Chris Farley but I think I would have enjoyed seeing him perform live.  Art work right in front of you looks different when it’s in a book and often times can’t capture the essence of what makes it so great.  No matter what unrehearsed footage is shown of Chris I doubt it will capture his comedic timing or athletic ability but it’s a joy to read people talking about it.

Excerpt from The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by Tom Farley, Jr., and Tanner Colby

I read The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts and will have the review up soon.  It’s mostly comprised of interviews with the friends, family and co-workers of Chris.  Below is Chapter 6 from the book and is a good example of the format used to tell the story of Chris Farley.  (Thanks to FSB Associates for providing the excerpt.)

Super Fan
by Tom Farley, Jr., and Tanner Colby,
Authors of The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts

CONAN O’ BRIEN, writer:
When Chris first got to the show, I met him hanging out in the conference room outside Lorne’s office. He was dressed kind of like a kid going to a job interview. We chatted for a bit. I liked him right away.

I came in and out of that conference room several times during the day, and Chris was still waiting. Lorne would do that to you, make you wait a long time. At the end of the day, I was feeling bad for him, so I said, “Hey, kid. I’ll show you around the studio,” and I led him on kind of a mock tour where I pretended to be in charge of everyone. Chris fell in and started playing along with me. After that I left and went home. I came back to work the next day, and Chris was still waiting outside Lorne’s office.

He had this energy, even when he was sitting there waiting for his meeting, rocking back and forth in his ill-fitting sports jacket with his tie all pulled off to the side. He seemed really earnest about doing the show. You just had the feeling that he was going to be a lot of fun and he belonged here. It was like the show — and I don’t mean this to sound condescending — but it was like the show had been given this new golden retriever puppy.

From the day he arrived at Saturday Night Live, Chris Farley was already suffering comparisons to the other outrageous, larger-than-life figure in SNL history: John Belushi. When Chris died seven years later, eerily, at the same age as Belushi, those comparisons became gospel. In truth the two men shared far more differences than similarities. Still, in life and in death, Chris has borne the accusation of trying too hard to follow in Befushi’s footsteps — an accusation with varying shades of truth. Yes, Chris looked up to and admired his predecessor, but whatever influence Belushi’s ghost had on a young Chris Farley paled in comparison to the truly dominant forces in his life: his father, his family, and his faith. As far as drugs and alcohol went, Chris’s bad habits were very much his own, seeded in his DNA and showing up at keg parties long before Belushi’s demise. And if Chris followed Belushi in more positive ways, he was hardly alone. Continue reading Excerpt from The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by Tom Farley, Jr., and Tanner Colby