Chris Farley's older brother Tom is director of the Chris Farley Foundation, an institution dedicated to educating young people about addiction and inspired by the tragic early death of his comedian sibling. Farley has teamed up with Colby (coauthor of Belushi: A Biography and also aA National Lampoon Radio Hour A head writer) for this rip-roaring memory mosaic, talking to "all the people who either knew Chris the best or were there at the important moments in his life." The interview quotes have been rearranged into a chronological narrative, which starts with Farley's childhood pranks in Madison, Wis., and moves on to the Marquette University theatricals that revealed Farley's flair for improv. Chicago's Second City catapulted him to Saturday Night Live, where he performed many well-remembered characters. Next came movies, but drugs, alcohol and rehab lurked in the background of his rise to fame. Molly Shannon recalled: "He was just indulging in everything: girls, Chinese food, drugs, booze, cold syrup. Everything." With talents such as Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Conan O'Brien and David Spade analyzing his humor and detailing Farley's escapades and hijinks, this is a boisterous book the comedian's fans will want to buy, borrow or steal. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Chris Farley's unique comedic talents catapulted him to national fame via television's Saturday Night Live and films such as the popular Tommy Boy. His flair for improvisation and his ability to connect with people were outstanding. His life, however, was eclipsed and ultimately cut short by ongoing alcohol and drug addiction. Here, his brother, Tom Farley Jr., and Colby (coauthor, Belushi) provide an honest and compelling portrait of Farley from his early years until his death in 1997. The unusual structure of the book adds to its poignancy; each chapter contained in the three acts of Farley's life is a well-organized compilation of vivid reminiscences from family and former schoolmates, TV and film personalities, and community center workers. A heartbreaking story of a complex man emerges: the popular public figure, the kindhearted private one-a religious man, caring friend, and dedicated volunteer to the aged and homeless-and an insecure, troubled individual, who, despite a supportive network and wholehearted attempts at rehab, succumbed to his addictions. Essential for fans.
Carol J. Binkowski
Family, friends and colleagues remember the late Saturday Night Live star. When legendary comedy-improv writer and instructor Del Close first saw Chris Farley perform, he commented, "Oh, that's the next John Belushi." That praise would prove prophetic in both a positive and a negative way: Like Belushi, Farley's rapid rise to fame was attended by a lifelong battle with weight problems and substance abuse. In this moving oral biography, older brother Tom Jr. and former National Lampoon Radio Hour head writer Colby (co-author: Belushi, 2005) assemble a layered, in-depth portrait of both Farley's professional and personal lives, culled from more than 130 interviews with dozens of his closest friends and confidantes. After quickly ascending through the ranks of ImprovOlympic and Second City in Chicago, Farley landed his dream job at SNL-and later, starring roles in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, among others. (Farley was also the original choice for the voice of Shrek, but his death led to the hiring of Mike Myers.) His colleagues universally recognized his talent, boundless energy and lust for life, but it quickly became clear that he was also battling demons that had been lingering since adolescence: Irish-Catholic guilt; addictive personality; the self-imposed pressure to please everyone around him, especially his father, who was extremely loving but also an obese alcoholic, enabling his son's issues with alcohol. During the course of the ten years leading up to his death, Farley was in and out of various rehabilitation centers, at one point staying clean for three years. But he was unable to overcome his problems and died of an overdose in December 1997. The editors deserve credit foreliciting such heartfelt remembrances (not all of it positive) from an impressive list of celebrities-Alec Baldwin, John Goodman, Lorne Michaels, Conan O'Brien, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin Nealon, Rob Lowe, Al Franken, Penelope Spheeris and many more-but readers should also pay close attention to Farley's family and friends, who get right to the heart of this flawed but humble, remarkably compassionate and enormously talented performer. Essential for Farley and SNL fans, and a sterling example of oral biography-well-structured, consistently engaging and simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.
"Brave, fast-moving, 4 stars"
"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."