“I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is, I’m good today. Real good.”
Chris Farley, the loud, boisterous and energetic man who left the audience awe-struck and aching with laughter with his antics, left the world far too soon. The man whose unparalleled comedic genius and prolific capacities in both acting and dancing are often compared to the greatness of John Belushi, led an uncannily similar life to that of Belushi. Born on February 15, 196, to a reasonably wealthy Roman Catholic family, Farley was a talented athlete who played rugby and graduated with a double major in communications and theatre. It is here that he discovered his knack for comedy.
Starting out with improv in Chicago, Farley’s genius was quickly noticed as he was promoted to mainstage events and was a cast member for three consecutive revues. He was, besides Chris Rock, one of the earliest cast members to be roped in by SNL. He frequently collaborated with Rock, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Tim Meadows and more and became infamous for their notorious off-camera antics, quickly named the “Bad boys of SNL”.
Farley was known for the gamut of characters he played which were scattered all over the spectrum. From playing an overweight sassy girl to a nervous interviewer to that of a pessimistic motivational speaker, Farley’s talents could not be typecast into a particular area. Ironically, the character he was most known for, Matt Foley, lectured children about drugs whereas Farley himself struggled with addiction.
Despite their immense popularity, both Sandler and Farley were fired by NBC due to their mischievous pranks which pushed others to the threshold of their patience. During his time at SNL, he bagged roles in comedy films and, after getting fired, he started focusing on his film career, achieving success with his first two ventures with closest friend Spade in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, both of which were highly successful. Although the movies performed well at the box office, Farley was not satisfied and relapsed on the premiere night before he could begin working on his next venture. He has signed a lot of contracts and could not appear in his dream projects due to his untimely death as a result of a speedball overdose.
“I still have to work on my weight and some of my other demons.”
Farley was an inspiration to many. He made fun of his size yet proved that one’s weight can never stand in one’s way of pursuing something they want. His enigmatic presence and bubbly attitude made him a beloved SNL member. The audience never understood the pain and struggle that hid behind the laughter in his eyes. His constant battle with addiction cost him his reputation; he sought treatment for obesity and substance abuse several times yet relapsed. Like John Belushi, eerily, he too passed away at the age of 33. His funeral was attended by many SNL castmates except best friend David Spade who later admitted that he could not have been able to see his friend’s lifeless body.
Losing Chris Farley has been a big blow to the world of comedy. Had he lived long, one cannot imagine what magic he would bring with his soulful and natural comedic skills. On what would have been his 57th birthday, we pay tribute to this legendary comic by taking a look at his ten most iconic moments on Saturday Night Live.
“You enter strong and you exit strong, and you’re going to be OK.”
Chris Farley’s 10 greatest SNL moments:
10. El Nino, 1994
Who would have ever thought they would see Chris Farley dressed in glitter clothing and red pants as El Nino? With a gruff voice, he tries to make us understand that he is the deadly storm El Nino which wreaks havoc due to the irregularities in wind patterns and whatnot. Using comedy, he tries to explain this complicated concept which is absolutely commendable.
Chris Farley’s memorable sketch brought the concept into the open when more and more players started identifying as El Nino to intimidate their opponents. However, every time someone says El Nino, we are reminded of how Farley tried to make all tropical storms bow before him. And who could ever forget the iconic dialogue:
‘El Nino is the Spanish for…. The Nino.”
9. Bill Swerski’s Super Fans, 1991
A super fun parody of the morbidly obese fans of the Super Bowl who chomp on food while watching the game, this sketch sees Chris Farley alongside Joe Mantegna, Robert Smigel and Mike Myers. They are present at Ditka’s residence and are having a sumptuous (and quite unhealthy) meal while talking about heart attacks. They pay tribute to the winning coach Mike Ditka by smoking a customary cigar and praising Ditka and God while saying “Da Prayer”.
While all the cast members are great in the sketch, Farley steals the show with his crazy antics. He chokes on an entire pork chop and then goes on to nearly cheat on his wife with Miss South Side of Chicago before realising that she, being a super fan, considers him to be her Ditka.
“I am her Ditka.”
8. Gap Girls at the Foodcourt, 1994
The Gap Girls were recurring characters on SNL skits comprising three girls Cindy Crawford, Christy Henderson and Lucy Brawn played by Chris Farley, David Spade and Adam Sandler. They worked at Gap but was very laidback about their job, never taking it seriously, ignoring customers, talking smack, discussing boys and dating lives. From appearing in celebrity guest shows to running into their rival groups, the girls have been up to everything. However, the most popular sketch was of the girls having lunch.
At the food court, Chris Farley’s Cindy, who is also revealed to be the boss of the group, devours french fries. At first, Farley takes a few fries from Spade by saying how the diet would start Monday and then goes on to take fistfuls of them. When spade tries to remind her that she is on a diet, Farley hilariously switches his Valley Girl accent to a hoarse and masculine El Nino-esque and demonic voice which left Sandler and Spade in splits. Although they tried hard to not break character, Farley’s impromptu hilarity coupled with serious expressions made it difficult for them.
“Lay me off, I’m starving.”
7. Colombian Decaffeinated Coffee Crystals, 1991
Hidden camera ranks have still not lost their popularity. YouTube and other such platforms are overloaded with people doing hidden pranks. SNL decided to parody the idea by showing a Swedish hidden camera crew embarking on a mission of telling people that they were not having real coffee but Colombian decaffeinated coffee crystals. The prank is even more amusing when the crew admits that they had 264 takes before getting the desired reaction; only one man did not take this information properly, and that had to be Chris Farley.
Farley is clad in a green suit and as soon as he is told this, he has an extraordinary meltdown and goes on an angry rampage wherein he flips over tables, beats up the waiter and breaks the plates. He flings cream pies at other guests before being subdued with several frying pan smacks to the head. He appears subsequently in bandages with a scornful smile on his face. Terrifying and absolutely priceless. Hulk must have taken lessons from him!
6. The Chris Farley Show with Paul McCartney, 1993
The Chris Farley Show was quite popular, with Farley appearing as a spoof of himself, as a nervous interviewer who messed up his interviews with famous people by deviating from questions of significance or allowing them to promote their new ventures by giving away details or by mixing up one guest with another. He would smack his head in frustration to show his anger at not being able to be a good interviewer, and among the three sketches with Jeff Daniels, Martin Scorsese and Paul McCartney, McCartney’s sketch remains the funniest and most memorable.
Paul McCartney is a man of few words in this show who is flabbergasted by Farley’s anxious and starstruck attitude. Farley, who is giddy with joy for being able to interview his idol, asks McCartney hilarious questions regarding if his death was a hoax or if he remembered his glory days at The Beatles. He goes on to refer to McCartney’s arrest at Narita Airport for possessing marijuana which leaves the shy Paul extremely flushed. It is hilarious to see two contrasting personalities seated next to each other trying to find a common ground. Spoiler alert, he smacks his head quite a number of times!
“I am so stupid.”
5. Schmitt’s Gay, 1991
The dynamic duo Adam Sandler and Chris Farley appear in this hilarious beer commercial spoof. With every beer commercial featuring scantily clad women and pool parties, this commercial is no different. However, there is a tiny twist. Instead of bikini-clad women, the ad features muscular men wearing skimpy speedos, tossing around Sandler and Farley who are overjoyed to be there.
The skit was praised for the diversity displayed by the actors. It parodied not only beer commercials but the advertisements in general which pertained to the young heterosexual male gaze. Lotion, water and fun galore, the skit also features a timeless gif where Farley takes off the lens of his sunglasses, admiring some young man in front of him.
“If you’ve got a big thirst and you’re gay, reach for a cold tall bottle of Schmitt’s Gay.”
4. Japanese Game Show, 1994
Chris Farley does not understand Japanese and is told by a concierge at a hotel while he is vacationing with his wife that he could watch a game show and ends up participating in it. Mike Myers as the game show host speaks only Japanese and the two men interact in two different languages with Farley miraculously winning every round. The punishments are crazy with losers having to cut off their fingers or getting electrocuted. Farley gets electrocuted in the end with his trick of repeating whatever Myers says failing him at the very end.
A parody of crazy heights to which Japanese game shows can take it, the sketch is fairly simple. However, a checkered-shirt clad, bespectacled and visibly nervous Farley complements the soft-spoken Mike Myers and they light the stage on fire. Or should we say electricity?
“I am sorry I don’t speak Japanese.”
3. Lunch Lady Land, 1994
The Lunch lady is the most hated person in the school because of her obnoxious behaviour and hideous looks. Chris Farley as the lunch lady clad in a tight blue dress, white apron and yellow rubber gloves as well as pink stockings is a vision. As Adam Sandler sings along, his interpretive dance moves add to the amusement factor. Sandler’s song depicts how the food items like pizza and garlic bread and green bean among others revolted against her before Sloppy Joe came to her rescue.
Adam Sandler tried his best not to laugh but he failed, thanks to Chris Farley’s slow dance at the end with Sloppy Joe paid by Kebbin Nealon. Sandler became a household name due to his debut music career which was accentuated by Farley’s hilarious appearance; this music video sold over two million copies.
“Me and Sloppy Joe got married. We got six kids and we are doing just fine.”
2. Chippendale Audition, 1990
By 1990, we are aware of how versatile Farley is. Besides being a prolific actor and comedian, he is the best sport on SNL. With stellar dance moves and a relentless spurts of energy, Farley has always been a vision to behold. In this skit, he auditions alongside Patrick Swayze on a dance routine to “Working for the Weekend”. Iconic and wild, the skit sees Farley matching Swayze’s vigour and stamina by emulating him and sometimes outdoing him with his rapid pelvic movements and energetic leaps as well as vigorous headbangs.
Although Swayze wins, Farley receives truckloads of compliments as well as body-shaming from the judges who were awestruck by him. To see him audition as a Chippendale dancer feels empowering as he breaks stereotypes and inspires one to pursue whatever they want to. His infectious on-stage presence in leather pants is something that loyal SNL fans will always cherish.
1. Matt Foley, 1993
Most of us know that motivational speakers sound phoney when they talk about staying optimistic and focused. SNL parodied it perfectly with the talented Chris Farley appearing as a satirical motivational speaker who reeked of pessimism and realism. Clad in ill-fitted clothes and addicted to coffee, his hyperactive behaviour and unfavourable responses with “la-dee-frickin-da” to audience achievements were rib-ticklingly funny. This portrayal by Farley is by far his best character as people are often left wondering from where he derived this unbridled energy and enthusiasm.
Farley said that Foley was modelled after someone on his rugby team as well as his father who would sometimes lose control over himself. Farley’s over the top mannerisms add to the exuberance of the character. The most notable sketch would be the one where he is brought over by parents to lecture their children, David Spade and Christina Applegate after the maid found pot in the house. Foley drinks coffee for four hours before arriving to give his speech and makes an iconic statement which goes down in SNL history as one of the most memorable moments.
“35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice-divorced, and living in a van down by the river!”