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I was flipping through the channels the other night and I was lucky enough to land on Tommy Boy. It brought me to back to the massive man who I worshipped as an awkward kid and was a fixture of my childhood for many years. It made me remember what a great talent we lost when Chris Farley passed away.
Chris Farley MAY have been the funniest person to walk ever walk the earth. He embodied funny; everything about him was funny; he was beyond funny. The only runner-up is Mike Tyson but he’s not even funny on purpose so it barely counts.
This year is the 20th anniversary of when the legendary comedian was killed prematurely by the addictions that haunted him for most of his adult life. It’s sad to see all the great comedians who ruined their lives with drugs — Farley, John Belushi, Mitch Hedberg, Lenny Bruce, just to name a few. Not to mention Bill Cosby, who flipped the script and ruined OTHER people’s lives with drugs.
I didn’t discover the magic of this morbidly obese saint until after he died, in the early 2000s. My dad showed me the Saturday Night Live ‘Best Of Chris Farley’ DVD when I was a little kid. I immediately became obsessed. Most of the skits had me in stitches, with shrieks of laughter bolting out my tiny body. The iconic Matt Foley “livin in a van down by a river” skit. The ‘Chris Farley Show,’ where a sweaty, stuttering Chris interviews celebrities and makes constant nervous mistakes and subsequently punishes himself for it. The Chicago sports superfans, the Chippendale dancer, the list goes on and on.
Farley wasn’t just a performer. He was a gigantic fireball destroying everything around him. His endless energy and loud screams made him more of a fat torpedo sent from hell than an actual human. His neckless head would turn as red as a tomato from exhausted exasperation and he looked like he could just explode at any moment. He’s arguably the best SNL cast member ever in my pointless opinion, and you can’t argue against the pleasant perfection of Tommy Boy.
The bizarre thing about Farley’s legacy is that his body of work is pretty small. He’s got a history of comedic brilliance in SNL skits, one hilarious movie (Tommy Boy), one pretty funny one (Black Sheep) and one incredibly dumb but mildly entertaining one (Beverly Hills Ninja). But the greatest moments of his short career were larger than life. His hero was John Belushi, and he’s constantly compared to him. Belushi has a much more impressive résumé and he’s obviously a legend, but at the end of the day, Farley makes me laugh out loud just a tiny bit more (put your pitchforks away). It’s poetically heartbreaking and darkly ironic that they died the same way at the same age. I guess God has a fucked up sense of humor.
It’s weird to think about what would have happened if Farley didn’t leave us so soon. One thing is for sure, Kevin James wouldn’t have a movie career. Dammit, Chris! But then again, that means Farley would have starred in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which would have been deeply depressing. That would have been the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen one of my comedic heroes do and yes I’m counting Cosby so don’t ask.
He burned bright and he burned out young, but he still makes us laugh our assess off two decades after his gigantic body stopped having a pulse. Rewatch Tommy Boy, watch some of his classic skits on youtube, and remember how it feels to laugh until you can’t even breathe. Here’s to our favorite fat guy in a little coat..