Tuesday, May 6, 2008

BOOKS: The Chris Farley Show by Tom Farley Jr. and Tanner Colby

Today marks the release of a new oral biography of Chris Farley written by his brother Tom Farley Jr. and Tanner Colby, who, fittingly, cowrote Belushi: A Biography. It seems that Farley could never escape Belushi's shadow and although some contend that Farley never tried to emulate him style-wise, he idolized his personal life. "Wired [Bob Woodward's book about Belushi] was the only book that Chris Farley read in college. The only one," remembers college friend Mark Hermacinski.

The Chris Farley Show is a thorough chronicle of Farley's personal and professional life with stories from family, friends and fellow performers. From the Ark Improvisational Theater in Farley's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin to Second City in Chicago to 'Saturday Night Live' in New York and films such as 'Tommy Boy' and 'Black Sheep', Farley's rise was steady and quick. Along the way everyone was sure he was going to make it, he was that good of a performer. But also constantly woven into the tales is his consent abuse of alcohol and drugs. Coming from a Irish-Catholic family in a state where you could drink at 18 with a father that gave him money to buy beers at 17, Farley learned at a young age how to play the funny drunk guy. Many people included in the book insist that he didn't need to be drunk to be funny, but he gained a reputation for being so anyway.

Farley is depicted here as an immense talent that could take over a scene even if he was a bit character. "His mere presence would induce laughter. Anything he'd do on top of that was gravy," says Second City cast member Joe Liss. In Chicago he was mentored by Del Close.

During Farley's 'SNL' years, individual sketches are discussed. The memorable "Chippendales" sketch with Patrick Swayze gets mixed reactions. Bob Odenkirk believes "he never should have done it" and Chris Rock says that he always hated it while others loved it. "Super Fans" (a.k.a. "Da Bears") was originally conceived by Odenkirk and Robert Smigel for a stage show in Chicago, they thought it was just a local thing. And Farley's most famous sketch on 'SNL', playing Matt Foley the Motivational Speaker, was yet another sketch written by Odenkirk that Farley had been doing years before in Second City.

But through all of the money, fame, and respect that he received, he couldn't resist the temptations no matter how many times he went to rehab. His overarching story is one that is probably similar to others that succumb to addition: family and friends that worry and help as far as they can and, in the end, have to cope with the sorrow of a life with so much potential wasted.

Wisconsin exhibit to showcase Chris Farley's life
Tom Farley Jr. interview
Some deleted scenes

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

Losing a family member at the tender age of 33 is incredibly tough. It’s even more complicated when that young person lived his existence in a bigger-than-life way, like Chris Farley – and his trials and tribulations are witnessed by millions.

In his new book, The Chris Farley Show, Chris’s older brother, Tom Farley, Jr. – with help from co-author Tanner Colby - pieces together his late brother’s life in the form of an oral history with interviews from most everyone who encountered Chris. This includes family and friends from his youth, on through the “Saturday Night Live” family, and people from his hit movies, including Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and Beverly Hills Ninja.

The book is an easy, breezy read, and was excerpted last month in Playboy.

You can LISTEN to the Mr. Media/BlogTalkRadio.com interview with Chris Farley's brother, Tom -- who is director of The Chris Farley Foundation -- by clicking HERE!