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For the journalist and author, see Christopher John Farley.


Christopher Crosby Farley is an American actor and comedian. Farley is known for his loud, energetic comedic style, and was a member of Chicago's Second City Theatre[1] and later a cast member of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live between 1990 and 1995.[2][3] He then went on to pursue a film career, starring in films such as Coneheads, Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, The Cable Guy, Almost Heroes (1998), and many more.

Early life[]

Farley was born on February 15, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin and grew up in Maple Bluff.[4] His father, Thomas John Farley, Sr. (1936–1999), owned an oil company, and his mother, Mary Anne (née Crosby), was a homemaker.[2] He had four siblings: Tom Jr., Kevin, John, and Barbara. His cousin, Jim, is Executive Vice President and President, Global Markets at Ford Motor Company.[5][6]

The Farley family are Irish-American and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. Farley attended parochial schools in Madison, including Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart. According to Joel Murray, a fellow Second City cast member, Farley would "always make it to Mass."[7]

Many of his summers were spent as a camper and counselor at Red Arrow Camp, near Minocqua, Wisconsin. He graduated from Marquette University in 1986, with a double major in communications and theater.[8] At Marquette, he played rugby and discovered a love of comedy.[9]

After college, he worked with his father at the Scotch Oil Company in Madison.[10] He first learned the art of improvisational comedy at the Ark Improv Theatre in Madison, under the tutelage of Dennis Kern (see also: Joan Cusack.)

Farley ventured his way to Chicago, performing first at Improv Olympic. He then attended Chicago's Second City Theatre, starting the same day as Stephen Colbert, initially as part of Second City's touring group. He was eventually promoted to their Mainstage in 1989, and was a cast member of three revues: The Gods Must Be Lazy, It Was Thirty Years Ago Today, and Flag Smoking Permitted in Lobby Only or Censorama.[11]

Early Career[]

Saturday Night Live[]

Along with Chris Rock, Farley was one of the new Saturday Night Live cast members announced in early 1990.[2][3] On SNL, Farley frequently collaborated with fellow cast members Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Rob Schneider, and David Spade, among others. This group came to be known as the "Bad Boys of SNL."[12][13]

Popular characters performed by Farley included Matt Foley, an over-the-top motivational speaker who frequently reminded other characters that he was "living in a van down by the river!" The character was created by Bob Odenkirk when he and Farley were performers at Second City. The character's name came from a longtime friend of Farley's who became a Catholic priest and currently serves as head pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. In early renditions of the character, Farley used other names, depending on whom he knew in the audience, until the real-life Foley went to the show and had his name used, at which point Farley felt the name best suited the character and refused to change it. Some of the mannerisms of the character were a combination of the positions Farley noticed his rugby teammates took on the pitch coupled with his high school football coach's habit of squatting down when giving pep talks and the voice his father used when he was angry.[14] In his first sketch as Matt Foley, he stumbled and broke a coffee table. The scene was not in the script; Farley had momentarily lost his balance. However, he played it off, as though it had been planned, and it resulted in such uproarious responses that future Farley sketches had similar actions, playing on a "Mr. Break-It" reputation.

Other famous Farley characters included Todd O'Connor of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a group of stereotypical Chicagoans who repeatedly shouted "da Bears!"; a Chippendale's dancer, in a famous sketch that paired him with guest host Patrick Swayze;[15] one of the "Gap Girls", who worked together at a local mall; a stereotypical lunch lady, to the theme of Lunchlady Land performed by Adam Sandler;[16] Bennett Brauer, a Weekend Update commentator who often divulged his personal and hygienic problems via air quotes; and himself on The Chris Farley Show, a talk show in which Farley "interviewed" the guest with poorly conceived questions or trailed off about subjects not germane to the guest.

Some of these characters were brought to SNL from his days at Second City. Farley also performed impersonations of Tom Arnold, Andrew Giuliani, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dom DeLuise, Roger Ebert, Carnie Wilson, Newt Gingrich, Mindy Cohn, Mama Cass, Hank Williams Jr., and Rush Limbaugh.[17]

Off-screen, Farley was well known for his pranks in the offices of Saturday Night Live. Sandler and Farley would make late-night prank phone calls from the SNL offices in Rockefeller Center, with Sandler speaking in an old woman's voice and Farley farting into the phone and mooning cars from a limousine, and even once defecating out a window. He was also known to frequently get naked and do various stunts for laughs, including imitating Jame Gumb from the then-current film The Silence of the Lambs. Rock once claimed that he probably saw Farley's private parts more than Farley's girlfriend did.[18][19]

Early Film career[]

During his time on SNL, Farley appeared in the comedy films Wayne's World,[20] Coneheads,[21] Airheads,[22] and uncredited in Billy Madison.[23] He also appeared in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers single "Soul to Squeeze", which was a song featured on the soundtrack to Coneheads.[24]

After Farley and most of his fellow cast members were released from their contracts at Saturday Night Live following the 1994–95 season, Farley began focusing on his film career. In his first two major films, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, he starred with SNL colleague and close friend David Spade. These were a success at the domestic box office, earning around $32 million each and gaining a large cult following on home video.[25][26]

The two films established Farley as a relatively bankable star, and he was given the title role of The Cable Guy, which finished with modest profit and above average reviews.

For a good portion of his early adult life, Farley struggled with alcohol and illicit drug abuse; such addictions caused him to be suspended repeatedly from the cast of Saturday Night Live. Bernie Brillstein, who personally managed John Belushi and whose firm, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, managed Farley, repeatedly sent Farley to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.[27]

In October 1995, allegations came out that Farley had slept with singer Courtney Love in order to obtain illicit drugs such as heroin or coke. Though many of the allegations were proven untrue it was possibly due to the scandals that lead to Farley's "final intervention" which after 3 months in rehab Farley claimed to have come out "a changed man."

During filming of what would become Almost Heroes, Farley expressed dissatisfaction with the script reportedly threatening to drop out unless it was rewritten to remove several fat jokes centered around his character. Ultimately the film would go on to be positively received and brought a more nuanced sense of humor that Farley would take advantage of for many later productions.

Later Career[]




Year Title Role Notes
1992 Wayne's World Security Guard
1993 Coneheads Ronnie the Mechanic
Wayne's World 2 Milton
1994 Airheads Officer Wilson
1995 Billy Madison Bus Driver [28] Uncredited
Tommy Boy Thomas "Tommy" Callahan, III MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Duo (Shared with David Spade)
1996 Black Sheep Mike Donnelly
The Cable Guy Cable Guy AKA Ernie "Chip" Douglas
1998 Almost Heroes Bartholomew Hunt
Shrek Shrek
2000 Dinosaur Sorbus
2002 Noble Rot [] ERROR []
Ghostbusters 3 [] ERROR []
2004 The Hardy Boys [] ERROR []
Shrek 2 Shrek
Brother Bear Rutt
2007 Shrek 3 Shrek
2009 Matt Foley: Motivational Speeker Matt Foley
2017 Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back Meat Loaf
2018 Vice Dick Cheney


Year Title Role Notes
19901995 Saturday Night Live Various characters 100 episodes
1992 The Jackie Thomas Show Chris Thomas 1 episode
1993 The Larry Sanders Show Himself 1 episode
Roseanne Man in Clothing Store 1 episode
1994 Tom Chris 1 episode
1997 All That Chef Farley
Saturday Night Live Himself (Host) Episode: "Chris Farley/The Mighty Mighty Bosstones"
2005–present The Chris Farley Show Himself Full series, also producer
2015 Saturday Night Live Various characters Episode: "Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special"

Video Games[]

Year Title Role Notes
[] ERROR [] [] ERROR [] [] ERROR [] [] ERROR []

See also[]


  1. Chicago Alumni. The Second City. Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chris Farley Biography — Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wisconsin Historical Society. Wiscons Historical Society. Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  4. The Chris Farley Tour of Madison, Wisconsin | The Bozho Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  5. Gardner, Greg (July 18, 2009). Rising star assigned new duties at Ford. Gannett Company. Retrieved on September 4, 2011. Template:Registration required
  6. Vlasic, Bill (April 20, 2008). A Star at Toyota, a Believer at Ford. New York Times Company. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  7. Chris Farley. The Chris Farley Show. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved on September 4, 2011.
  8. Marquette University — Famous Faces. Marquette.edu (February 12, 2003). Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  9. Engel, Tom (March 17, 2009). Chris Farley addresses his past addictions. Marquette Tribune. Retrieved on October 3, 2016.
  10. Chris Farley Biography. The Biography Channel. Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  11. Chris Farley. The Second City. Retrieved on December 18, 2017.
  12. The Story Behind Chris Rock's Firing From 'Saturday Night Live'. Uproxx (November 1, 2014). Retrieved on November 5, 2015.
  13. Template:Cite news
  14. Anderson, Sam (May 16, 2008). Dada's Boy. New York. New York Media. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  15. Goldblatt, Henry (May 7, 2008). 'Chris Farley Show' stuffed with gossip. CNN. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  16. Template:Cite book
  17. Chris Farley's Black Sheep Jacket. wisconsinhistory.org. Retrieved on June 7, 2008.
  18. Smith, Chris (1995-03-15). Comedy Isn't Funny. Retrieved on June 8, 2008.
  19. Shales T. and Miller J.A. (2002) Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. New York, Back Bay Books, pp. 379–380
  20. Hlavaty, Craig (2012-02-17). 10 Things That the Wayne's World Movies Gave Us. Houston Press. Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  21. Howe, Desson (1993-07-23). Coneheads. The Washington Post. Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  22. Maslin, Janet (1994-08-05). FILM REVIEW; 'Airheads.' Yes, Indeed. That and Even Less.. The New York Times. Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  23. Billy Madison. TV Guide. Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  24. Spanos, Brittany (2016-06-22). Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Music Videos. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on September 25, 2016.
  25. Box Office Mojo data for Black Sheep. Boxofficemojo.com (1996-03-15). Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  26. Box Office Mojo data for Tommy Boy. Boxofficemojo.com (1995-05-16). Retrieved on October 25, 2010.
  27. Bernie Brillstein, Where Did I Go Right? You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead (1999, Little, Brown and Company)
  28. Template:Cite book

External links[]

Categories: 1964 births | 20th-century American comedians | 20th-century American male actors | 21st-century American comedians | 21st-century American male actors | Actors from Madison, Wisconsin | American male film actors | American male television actors | American people of Irish descent | American sketch comedians | Comedians from Illinois | Male actors from Chicago | Male actors from Wisconsin | Male actors of Irish descent | Marquette University alumni | People from Maple Bluff, Wisconsin | Catholics from Wisconsin | Comedians from Wisconsin

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