Farley ate extraordinary amounts
Farley’s enthusiasm for food was reflected in his figure, and the comedian weighed 296 pounds at the time of his death. During an appearance on Conan, Farley’s close friend and SNL co-star Adam Sandler shed light on the late comedian’s eating habits, revealing that, when they went out for a meal, Farley would often order up to six items off the menu. Chiming in, Conan O’Brien added that, “Chris Farley loved to eat, to a degree I’ve never seen since, by any human being.”
Mike Myers was scared of doing improv with him
In the documentary I Am Chris Farley, Mike Myers revealed that being involved in improv sketches with the comedian made him extremely nervous. Farley was known to accidentally injure his co-performers due to his wild antics combined with his large frame. Myers confessed that, “I improvised with Chris, and I was scared to death, because he had already knocked someone’s tooth out and gave someone else a scar just from being so crazy.”
His life – and death – mirrored that of his hero John Belushi
Farley frequented cited John Belushi as his main influence, and he was known to idolise the late, great comedian. Many have pointed out the similarities between Belushi and Farley, with both enjoying meteoric rises and suffering tragic downfalls. Strikingly, both men died at the same age, from the same cause of death. In what turned out to be a darkly portentous interview, Farley, when asked about Belushi, replied “did you know that he died at my age this year, at 33?”
Farley stuffed his face with brownies to make a ten-year-old Olivia Wilde laugh
Olivia Wilde shared a touching story about Chris Farley during an appearance on The Late Night Show. The actress told James Corden how, when she was ten years old, she was a shy and overweight girl “self-consciously” helping herself to a brownie from a craft table when Farley spotted her. Wilde recounted how, in an effort to make her feel better, the comedian walked over to her, made eye contact, and then began stuffing his face with brownies to make her laugh.
No one seems to know exactly why he was fired from SNL
Farley’s tenure at Saturday Night Live was hardly smooth-sailing, with the comedian frequently winding up suspended for his out-of-control substance abuse and drinking. However, his unexpected firing a year before his contract expired remains shrouded in mystery. Farley’s co-star Adam Sandler was fired at the same time, and the actor later revealed that he’s still not sure why either of them were let go. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Beast, Sandler stated, “the fact that me and him got fired? Who knows.”
Farley was cast as Shrek
When Chris Farley died, he left a number of projects unfinished, including the first Shrek film. The comedian had been cast as the voice of the titular character, and had recorded around 95% of the film’s dialogue when he tragically passed away. After his death, the studio debated hiring an impersonator to record the final lines, but it was eventually decided that this would be in poor taste and Mike Myers was recast instead, recording all the character’s lines from scratch.
He died of a drug overdose at the age of 33
Farley was known as an energetic and exuberant performer, but off stage he struggled with alcohol and substance abuse, leading to frequent suspensions from Saturday Night Live. Bernie Brillstein, the owner of the talent agency that managed Farley, repeatedly sent the comedian to rehab, but his recovery never lasted long. In the final years of his life, the comedian’s health began visibly declining, and his stage persona become noticeably less energetic. During his final appearance on SNL, his strained voice and flushed complexion sparked public concern and, less than two months later, Farley’s body was found by his younger brother, with the autopsy revealing the cause of death as an overdose of cocaine and morphine.
David Spade, Farley’s best friend, didn’t attend his funeral
After his untimely death at the age of 33, Farley’s funeral was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Madison, Wisconsin, the town that the comedian grew up in. There were more than 500 people in attendance at the ceremony, including many comedians that Farley had worked with throughout his career. However, there was one glaring exception: Farley’s best friend, David Spade. Spade’s absence stoked rumours of a fallout, but the comedian later clarified that the reason he didn’t attend the funeral was because he would have found it too emotionally difficult.
He struggled reading scripts, but shone onstage
Tom Davis, who was an SNL cast member at the same time as Farley, later recalled that he was shocked to see Farley struggling to read scripts during rehearsals. According to Davis, Farley, “struggled with reading in the way of someone who was not schooled well.” However, Davis added that, “despite his shortcomings as someone who hadn’t honed his skills yet, it was clear that he had the raw talent to work on that show successfully, which he did.”
Alec Baldwin believed that Farley had genuine acting talent
Saturday Night Live alumni often attempt to break into Hollywood after their time on the show, with mixed results. However, Alec Baldwin, one of the few SNL cast members to also achieve immense success as an actor, wholeheartedly believed in Farley’s acting ability. In an interview, Baldwin stated, “you can distinguish the real actors from the stand-ups, and Chris was a good actor, a very good actor. He could have had a career for the rest of his life.”
Farley indicated his displeasure with only being cast in small roles by acting ridiculously
In 1995, whilst Farley was filming Tommy Boy, Lorne Michaels called him back to appear in an episode of Saturday Night Live. However, much to the comedian’s chagrin, he discovered he had only been given small parts in the show’s sketches. Farley took this personally, and struck back by wearing an absurd, foot-long red beard during his sketch and screaming his two lines of dialogue as loudly as he could. Michaels was known for not tolerating dissent, but apparently he let it slide due to his soft spot for the comedian.
His character Matt Foley was named after a real person
Matt Foley, a motivational speaker who frequently references the fact that he “lives in a van by the river,” was one of Farley’s most famous and beloved characters. The comedian stated that the character was an amalgamation of people he had known in real life, and he used to frequently change the character’s name depending on who was in the audience. During a performance at Chicago’s Second City Theatre, Farley’s childhood friend Matt Foley was in attendance, and Farley ended up using his name in the sketch on a spur of the moment. He decided it fit so well that he carried on using it afterwards, much to the amusement of the real-life Foley, who is a pastor.
Farley defecated out of a 17th-floor window in Rockefeller Plaza
Farley was certainly not one to back down from a dare. During his tenure at Saturday Night Live, he walked into the 17th-floor office of Jay Mohr and Dave Attell, who were struggling with a bout of creative block. Under pressure to write material for that week’s show, the writers had been awake for nearly two days straight, which might have contributed to them daring Farley to defecate out of the window. The comedian attempted to oblige, but things went disastrously wrong and it ended up on the office floor, much to the dismay of the cleaners, no doubt.
He licked everything
Whilst on the surface this might seem like one of Farley’s comedic bits, apparently his obsession with licking things was a genuine compulsion and not done to garner laughs. Multiple comedians have recounted incidents of the late comedian licking things inappropriately. In an interview, Bob Odenkirk revealed that Farley would “open his wallet and lick everything inside it, the pictures, the money. He had to lick his shoelaces to tie them. It was totally nuts.”
He once burst into the SNL writer’s room – completely naked
It’s safe to say that Farley felt comfortable in his own skin, with many stories involving the comedian stripping off at inappropriate moments. In one particularly memorable incident, recounted by SNL writer Fred Wolf, Farley crashed a crowded writer’s room completely naked and proceeded to do an impersonation of Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs that included a very inappropriate use of a golf club. According to Wolf, the room was packed with about 25 writers of mixed gender, and reactions ranged from hysterical laughter to abject horror.
He ended up in rehab 17 times
Farley’s life was marked by the duality of his hilarious onscreen antics and his tragic offscreen struggles. The comedian struggled heavily with addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and food, with his behaviour whilst under the influence often interfering with his professional life. Many in Farley’s orbit were concerned for his wellbeing and frequently encouraged him to seek treatment, and it seems he was responsive to these interventions. Farley attended rehab a total of 17 times in the last years of his life, but despite his best efforts he wasn’t able to get clean.
Farley got discovered whilst working at a Chicago comedy club
After finding himself dissatisfied working at his father’s oil company, Farley discovered improv at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison, instantly becoming hooked. The comedian found his way to Chicago, where he began performing at Improv Olympic before attending Chicago’s Second City Theatre, starting on the same day as Stephen Colbert. Farley performed with the theatre for a number of years, and it was here that he was discovered by Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live. Michaels immediately spotted the comedian’s immense talent, and Farley was soon added to the cast of SNL.
Farley was a member of ‘the bad boys of SNL’
Farley began his SNL career in 1990, joining the cast at the same time as Chris Rock, with the two frequently working together. The comedian also collaborated extensively with Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Tim Meadows, with the group eventually earning the moniker ‘the bad boys of SNL.’ The nickname was the result of the group’s often crude sketches, as well as their reputation for offscreen antics.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers mentioned Farley in a song
Chris Farley left a lasting legacy, and had a profound cultural influence during his short life. The comedian remains an icon to many, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who paid homage to Farley in a song on their hugely successful album Californication. A line in ‘Purple Stain’ – “Farley is an angel and I can prove this” – has been confirmed by the band to be a direct reference to the comedian and his untimely death.
He was posthumously given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
On August 26, 2005, almost eight years after his tragic demise, Farley was posthumously awarded the 2,289th star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. The comedian’s star was fittingly placed outside the iO West, the Los Angeles branch of Improv Olympic. Farley first performed at the Improv Olympic in Chicago, and the establishment was known to hold a special place in his heart.
SNL was concerned about hiring Farley due to his substance abuse problems
After Farley was scouted by Lorne Michaels, the comedian was invited to the SNL offices for a meeting. According to Robert Smigel, who sat in on the meeting, Farley turned up in “full altar boy mode,” but the executives of the show had already gotten word of the comedian’s problems with drink and drugs. Smigel recalled that Michaels sternly informed Farley that any misbehaviour wouldn’t be tolerated, warning him, “we don’t want another Belushi.”
Adam Sandler wrote a tribute song to Farley
Chris Farley and Adam Sandler were both SNL cast members at the same time, and the pair formed a strong and lasting friendship. Sandler paid tribute to his fallen friend with a song that he performed during his 2018 Netflix special Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh. The comedian got visibly emotional during the song’s performance, and Netflix later released the track on YouTube to mark the 21st anniversary of Farley’s death.
Farley was something of a womaniser
Farley enjoyed the attention that fame brought him, and he was known to be something of a womaniser. However, he did settle down from time to time, and one of his more steady relationships was with Erin Maroney, an assistant to Lorne Michaels who would go on to become an SNL writer. Maroney also worked on a number of films that Farley starred in, including Black Sheep. It’s unknown exactly how long the pair dated for, but they had broken up by the time of his death.
According to Rob Schneider, Bill Murray ‘hated’ Chris Farley
Bill Murray’s time as a regular SNL fixture had come to a close by the time Chris Farley joined the cast, but he made occasional appearances on the show during Farley’s tenure and it seems he wasn’t a fan of the new talent. According to Rob Schneider, who was hired as an SNL writer before ending up in front of the camera, Murray “absolutely hated” the new cast, with particular disdain reserved for Farley and Adam Sandler.
Farley’s family was nervous when he joined SNL
As soon as Farley got into improv it was clear that he was born to be on the stage, and his family were supportive of his creative endeavours. However, there was general anxiety when the comedian made the transition from Chicago’s Second City Theatre to Saturday Night Live. According to Farley’s brother, the actor had thrived in the culture of camaraderie at Second City, but there were concerns about his ability to hold his own in the high pressure, “cut-throat” environment of SNL. However, these fears would prove to be unfounded, and Farley became an instant star on the show.
Farley got scammed when he first moved to NYC
Shortly after moving to New York City, Farley – who didn’t yet possess a debit card – was carrying $500 in cash when he chanced upon three men playing a dice ‘game’. Unbeknownst to the naive Wisconsin native, this was a scam designed to target gullible visitors to the city. Farley promptly bet his entire wad of cash, inevitably losing it immediately. The comedian’s brother, Tom Farley, later said that the event was a “great expression of his character.”
Farley was an Irish-Catholic
Farley was raised an Irish-Catholic, and – despite his wild behaviour – it seems he never lost his faith. The comedian regularly attended Church throughout his life, and often volunteered at soup kitchens and nursing homes. His religion also formed the basis of his relationship with Erin Maroney, and during their relationship the couple would often attend mass together. Todd Green, a childhood friend of Farley’s, later revealed that the comedian had always longed for a “nice Irish gal” his family would approve of.
Everyone at SNL immediately knew he was going to a star
According to Lorne Michaels, Farley’s stage presence was so spellbinding that hiring him was the easiest casting decision he ever made, and as soon as he got to the SNL offices he immediately impressed the other cast members. According to Chris Rock, “You could just tell he was funny. Normally you meet a guy, and you’re automatically skeptical about him. You’re basically not funny until proven otherwise. But there was something about Farley where you could tell he was funny when he said hi.”
His Chippendales sketch is hated by some of his SNL co-stars
One of Farley’s SNL sketches involved the comedian taking part in a dance contest to land a job at Chippendales. Whilst the sketch was incredibly well received publicly, some of the cast members hated it, and many have subsequently lamented that it’s one of the things Farley is most remembered for. Bob Odenkirk later confessed, “I didn’t like the fact that the first thing he became known for was that Chippendales thing, which I hated,” whilst Chris Rock went even further, stating, “as funny as that sketch was, and as many accolades as he got for it, it’s one of the things that killed him. It really is. Something happened right then.”
But others loved it, and it did wonders for his career
Reactions to the Chippendales sketch weren’t unanimously negative. Robert Smigel stated that, “it was a fantastic sketch, I’d say it’s one of the funniest sketches in the history of the show,” and Tom Davis put it even more succinctly: “when you get laughs like that, there’s nothing wrong with what’s going on onstage.” The sketch also got Farley signed to his agency, CAA, with Doug Robinson, his agent, recalling that “all we did was show everyone a video of the “Chippendales” sketch, and it was done. We signed him right then.”