The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts

The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts


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

The New York Times bestselling biography of an American comedy legend

After three years of sobriety, Chris Farley's life was at its creative peak until a string of professional disappointments chased him back to drugs and alcohol. He fought hard against them, but it was a fight he would lose in December 1997. Farley's fans immediately drew parallels between his death and that of his idol, John Belushi. Without looking deeper, however, many failed to see that Farley was much more than just another Hollywood drug overdose. In this officially authorized oral history, Farley's friends and family remember his work and life. Along the way, they tell a remarkable story of boundless energy, determination, and laughter that could only keep the demons at bay for so long.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143115564
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/26/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 265,995
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tom Farley, Jr., Chris’s older brother, is president and managing director of the Chris Farley Foundation, which educates young people about substance abuse and addiction.

Tanner Colby is former head writer of the National Lampoon Radio Hour, and coauthor of Belushi: A Biography. He lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt


Irish brothers share one of the strangest relationships on earth. We fight like hell among ourselves on a daily basis, but one word or action against one brother brings the wrath of God down upon you from the others. That was Chris and me. We were always competing, whether it was driveway basketball, touch football, or Monopoly. Most of the time, these games would end in a brawl. Nothing bloody, mind you. Drawing blood would bring the fury of Mom or Dad down on all of us. No, most of the time we'd strike a few blows and then run like hell. And let me tell you, nothing was more terrifying than being chased through the neighborhood by a crazy, mad Irish sibling who outweighed you by twenty-five pounds and had a brick in his hand!

But rare was the time that I wouldn't come running if Chris was in trouble. I was the older brother; that was my job. And, Chris being Chris, it was a job that put me in harm's way more times than I would have liked. One such time, when I was in eighth grade and Chris was in sixth, he got into a fight with a classmate. He tackled the kid and threw him to the ground, landing on top of him and breaking his collarbone. Word got around school that the kid's seventh-grade brother was gunning for Chris. Naturally, I had to step in. I put the word out that the brother would have to go through me first. I found out later that day that the kid's brother was named Rocky. No shit: Rocky! The guy was massive (a future all-city lineman in high school, no less). No fight ensued, but I did learn that I possessed a real gift of what the Irish call "the gab." I talked my way out of it. It was my only defense, without which Chris would have certainly got me killed several times over. Life with Chris was exciting; he brought drama and danger into our lives. But no matter what he put you through, he could always just give you a look and make you laugh. Biy, did he make us laugh.

We always loved to tell "Chris stories." I've heard them from friends, relatives, teachers, coaches—even priests and nuns. You could be the funniest guy in the room just by describing some of the stuff Chris did. For every hilarious thing he did on camera, there were twenty things he did offscreen that just blew it away. He lived to make others laugh, and he was fearless about it. In the years since Chris passed away, there have been countless times when Chris's buddied would find themselves huddled together, sharing these crazy stories. At one time, I even thought that a collection of those stories would make a fantastic book. I still do. But I now believe that those funny stories would not paint the right picture of who this kid was. Chris had far too much depth and way too much pain. We all enjoyed Chris so much, and it's hard to put those things into words.

I began this project by listing all the people who either knew Chris the best or were there at the important moments in his life. I spoke to most of them and gave them assurances that this was a project that our family was behind all the way. I wanted them to be open and honest about their memories, opinions, and feelings about what part of what, for most, was an unforgettable relationship. I'm not sure I was totally prepared for the story that Tanner and I ended up with. The funny stories and outrageous moments are definitely in there, but what emerged was this amazing picture of the multifaceted character traits that Chris possessed. He was hilarious, yes, but he was also a very religious, very caring—and very troubled and addicted person. It's a sad story, no question about it. But it's Chris.

Soon after Chris died, I told my wife that my greatest fear was being sixty years old and trying hard to remember this kid who was my brother. I guess anyone who's lost somebody close can say that. Being able to watch the fun movies and video clips only gets you so far; it's not the full picture. I'm pleased that this book will be something I can pick up when I'm older, remember Chris and his wild life, and be once more amazed that I had such an unbelievable person in my life.

Table of Contents

Introduction Tom Farley xi

Act I

Chapter 1 A Motivated Speaker 3

Chapter 2 Madison, Wisconsin 11

Chapter 3 An Epiphany 36

Chapter 4 Attacking the Stage 56

Chapter 5 Whale Boy 73

Chapter 6 Super Fan 98

Chapter 7 The Place in Alabama 118

Act II

Chapter 8 A Friendly Visitor 145

Chapter 9 The Magic Sixty-six 171

Chapter 10 The Lost Boys 191

Chapter 11 The Polar Bear Pit 212


Chapter 12 Raising the White Flag 239

Chapter 13 The Devil in the Closet 261

Chapter 14 Fatty Falls Down 290

Chapter 15 The Parting Glass 311

Epilogue 327

Acknowledgments 331

Note on Sources and Method 335

The-Ographies 337

Index 343

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Brave, fast-moving, 4stars"

" It digs beneath the buffoonish exterior and uncovers a complex human being . . . The Chris Farley we meet here is both funnier and more lovable than the typical celebrity drug casualty, which makes The Chris Farley Show both sadder and more frustrating than the typical just-say-no cautionary tale."
-The New York Times Book Review

" What you'll love: the book's intimate accounts give as much time to Farley's sensitive nature and generosity of spirit as they do to his ugliest moments."
-The Washington Post

" Farley has no shortage of support and admirers . . . the compilation of direct quotes from his loved ones makes for powerful reading and provides a more forceful reminder of how terrifying addiction can be."

Customer Reviews

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The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I ever read. A story that tells a side of his life that a fan may have never knew. Being a child from the 90's and from Wisconsin I looked up to Chris. This book is told by his family and SNL family and they collectively do an amazing job. This book made me laugh and cry. Truely my favorite book!
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DrinksHoppyBeers More than 1 year ago
I never realized how unique Chris was until I read this book. The book is written well and provides unbelievable insight. It gave me the closure on Chris' death I never knew I needed.
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DeeNadj More than 1 year ago
When I saw this book was written by Farley's brother, I thought it would be a "hearts and flowers" version of a very sad story, but it was not. He told the truth, no matter how unpleasant or unpretty it was, which was something I came to seriously appreciate while reading this book. As much as people feel they know about Chris Farley (the beginning, middle and end of his story), this book lets you know there was much much more to the man himself. I didn't think I'd like the "first person account" style of writing, but seeing the situation from each person's perspective was very interesting and allowed the reader to get a lot of information in a compact format. This book is one that will stay with the reader for a long, long time.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. If you have ever seen a Chris Farley movie then you should read this book. It provides great insight into the life of Chris Farley from his childhood to his final days. The style of writing which is mainly excerpts from interviews with friends and family of Farley provides various viewpoints and allows you to really see what he was going through. A great book that will make you laugh, cry and laugh again
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Christopher-Steel More than 1 year ago
I grew up idolizing Chris Farley. He was my favorite actor and my favorite person from the SNL reruns I watched. I am 23 right now. The day he died I was on my way to middle school. I heard the report on the radio in the morning. I was sad all day. He was a huge influence on my life and why I strove to be as funny as people tell me I am. I was too young then to understand what could have caused him to be so into drugs and alcohol. After reading this book I feel like I know Chris a little better. It is a story of Chris told by those closest to Chris. Family and friends gather in one book almost as if they all got together one afternoon to just reminisce about him. The stories are sad, funny, depressing, and inspiring. If you like Chris Farley or have some sort of idea about who you think he really was, please read this, you will learn a lot about him and his life. Amazing Book.
Sahn More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent,You will laugh out loud, Get angry, Cry and feel your soul jarred. This is a raw journey into the life of Chris Farley from the perspective of his friends and family. I highly recommend this book for just about anyone, we all can relate to some part of it.
Swedamix More than 1 year ago
I think the Chris Farley Show was the most amazing book that I have read from my reading career. The book was written by Tom Farley. Tom Farley talks about what Chris Farley did in his childhood to December 18, 1997. The book was educationa, funny, and sad at the same time. For people who love Chris Farley, this is the best book you would ever read.
CGraham9 More than 1 year ago
You pick up this book because you love Chris Farley, you know the overview of his life and assume you are going to hear about his drug/alcohol abuse, but what you get can change the way you look at people. What a HUMAN BEING!