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A biography of the Saturday Night Live star as told by his friends and family No one dominated a stage the way Chris Farley did. For him, comedy was not a routine; it was a way of life. He could not enter a room unnoticed or let a conversation go without making someone laugh. Fans knew Chris as Saturday Night Live’s sweaty, swaggering, motivational speaker; as the irresisti A biography of the Saturday Night Live star as told by his friends and family No one dominated a stage the way Chris Farley did. For him, comedy was not a routine; it was a way of life. He could not enter a room unnoticed or let a conversation go without making someone laugh. Fans knew Chris as Saturday Night Live’s sweaty, swaggering, motivational speaker; as the irresistible Chippendales stripper; and as Tommy Callahan, the underdog hero of Tommy Boy. His family knew him as sensitive and passionate, deeply religious, and devoted to bringing laughter into others’ lives. But Chris did not know moderation, either in his boundless generosity toward friends or in the reckless abandon of his drug and alcohol abuse. For ten years, Chris cycled in and out of rehabilitation centers, constantly fighting his insecurities and his fears. Despite three hard-fought years of sobriety, addiction would ultimately take his life at the tragically young age of thirty-three. Fame on SNL and three straight number-one box office hits gave way to a string of embarrassing public appearances, followed by a fatal overdose in December 1997. Here is Chris Farley as remembered by his family, friends, and colleagues—the true story of a man who lived to make us laugh and died as a result. The Chris Farley Show is an evocative and harrowing portrait of a family trapped by addiction, a father forced to bury a son, and a gifted and kindhearted man ultimately torn apart by the demons inside him.


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A biography of the Saturday Night Live star as told by his friends and family No one dominated a stage the way Chris Farley did. For him, comedy was not a routine; it was a way of life. He could not enter a room unnoticed or let a conversation go without making someone laugh. Fans knew Chris as Saturday Night Live’s sweaty, swaggering, motivational speaker; as the irresisti A biography of the Saturday Night Live star as told by his friends and family No one dominated a stage the way Chris Farley did. For him, comedy was not a routine; it was a way of life. He could not enter a room unnoticed or let a conversation go without making someone laugh. Fans knew Chris as Saturday Night Live’s sweaty, swaggering, motivational speaker; as the irresistible Chippendales stripper; and as Tommy Callahan, the underdog hero of Tommy Boy. His family knew him as sensitive and passionate, deeply religious, and devoted to bringing laughter into others’ lives. But Chris did not know moderation, either in his boundless generosity toward friends or in the reckless abandon of his drug and alcohol abuse. For ten years, Chris cycled in and out of rehabilitation centers, constantly fighting his insecurities and his fears. Despite three hard-fought years of sobriety, addiction would ultimately take his life at the tragically young age of thirty-three. Fame on SNL and three straight number-one box office hits gave way to a string of embarrassing public appearances, followed by a fatal overdose in December 1997. Here is Chris Farley as remembered by his family, friends, and colleagues—the true story of a man who lived to make us laugh and died as a result. The Chris Farley Show is an evocative and harrowing portrait of a family trapped by addiction, a father forced to bury a son, and a gifted and kindhearted man ultimately torn apart by the demons inside him.

30 review for The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts

  1. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    Chris Farley and I were about the same age when he passed away. He grew up in Wisconsin, and I grew up in Iowa. We both loved The Blues Brothers, SCTV, and Saturday Night Live. I felt like Chris could have been one of my high school buddies. We both loved football. I miss the heck out of this guy... THE CHRIS FARLEY SHOW is still one of my favorite reads of all time. Not just because it chronicles his life personally and professionally, but also because there seemed to be some telling moments in Chris Farley and I were about the same age when he passed away. He grew up in Wisconsin, and I grew up in Iowa. We both loved The Blues Brothers, SCTV, and Saturday Night Live. I felt like Chris could have been one of my high school buddies. We both loved football. I miss the heck out of this guy... THE CHRIS FARLEY SHOW is still one of my favorite reads of all time. Not just because it chronicles his life personally and professionally, but also because there seemed to be some telling moments in this biography. I remember some incidents where Chris probably didn't receive the guidance or discipline he needed when he made poor choices as a teen. It wasn't as if Farley had the attitude that he didn't need to follow any rules or laws, it was more of the fact that no one expected him to. He was the class clown. He was not mean, destructive, or violent...let him do what he wants! Or.... "That's just Chris being Chris." I certainly don't claim to have any answers as to the reasons behind the tragic end of Chris Farley's life. Still, there were parts of his story that made me wonder about how he perceived himself and how he fit into the world around him. Tom Farley, one of Chris's brothers, did a hell of a job writing this book. There's also a lot of the GOOD & FUNNY human being that Chris was in this biography. He really did have a heart of gold. He was the best...R.I.P. big man.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mischenko

    I loved this book because it brings Chris back for me and will do that for anyone who reads it. I was fortunate enough to watch him when I was in high school when he was in his prime. I miss him and wish he knew how much he was loved. I'm very thankful this book was written... I loved this book because it brings Chris back for me and will do that for anyone who reads it. I was fortunate enough to watch him when I was in high school when he was in his prime. I miss him and wish he knew how much he was loved. I'm very thankful this book was written...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    The Chris Farley Show A Biography in Three Acts By: Tom Farley, Tanner Colby Narrated by: Therese Plummer, L. J. Ganser, Mark Boyett This book doesn't just deals with this wonderful comedian's professional career but it goes much deeper. It goes into the parts of Chris Farley's life that few people know. It tells about his family, how his addiction was a family affair. His family were all alcoholics except his sister. His father was almost 600 lbs. But nobody discussed the father's alcohol or weight The Chris Farley Show A Biography in Three Acts By: Tom Farley, Tanner Colby Narrated by: Therese Plummer, L. J. Ganser, Mark Boyett This book doesn't just deals with this wonderful comedian's professional career but it goes much deeper. It goes into the parts of Chris Farley's life that few people know. It tells about his family, how his addiction was a family affair. His family were all alcoholics except his sister. His father was almost 600 lbs. But nobody discussed the father's alcohol or weight. Chris was also very religious and was very regular at mass. His family was Irish and Catholic. He had a close relationship with his priest. It described his goals, his failures, how he handled each. His school life. Childhood experiences. Then on to his comedy career. How he started, friends, how he affected others. His self destructive behavior of addiction and his many rehab admissions. Then the night he died and the funeral. This was a heartwarming and heart wrenching story about a funny, caring, wonderful man that died too young. At the age of 33, the world lost so much. It's so sad that addiction takes so many young lives.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    Farley was a staple of my youth, one of my favorite comedians ever, but his death of an OD always left me with a bittersweet feeling about his life. This book is one of the saddest books I have ever read for what it reveals of his lifelong struggle. I don't think I've ever seen such a poignant glimpse of the downward spiral of an addict. It's beautifully pieced together as an oral history, which is hard to do well. It brings smiles and laughs because Farley was absolutely genius as a comedian an Farley was a staple of my youth, one of my favorite comedians ever, but his death of an OD always left me with a bittersweet feeling about his life. This book is one of the saddest books I have ever read for what it reveals of his lifelong struggle. I don't think I've ever seen such a poignant glimpse of the downward spiral of an addict. It's beautifully pieced together as an oral history, which is hard to do well. It brings smiles and laughs because Farley was absolutely genius as a comedian and lovable as a person. But it leaves you with an ache. It's a tremendous book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I tore through this book. Like the history of Saturday Night Live called "Live from New York" this is an oral biography of Chris Farley (interestingly, in this book the "Live from New York" book takes a pretty harsh hit from someone claiming he was misquoted in the SNL history). The oral format worked for me. As Tom wrote in the introduction, Chris Farley lived the type of life where all his friends had "Chris stories." This book, like its subject's life, is funny, revealing, touching, maddening I tore through this book. Like the history of Saturday Night Live called "Live from New York" this is an oral biography of Chris Farley (interestingly, in this book the "Live from New York" book takes a pretty harsh hit from someone claiming he was misquoted in the SNL history). The oral format worked for me. As Tom wrote in the introduction, Chris Farley lived the type of life where all his friends had "Chris stories." This book, like its subject's life, is funny, revealing, touching, maddening and ultimately tragic. There is a period in Chris' life where he really had his stuff together he was on top of the world and I was unaware of that. I was not prepared to for the Chris Farley that was sober and on top of things and brightening the world around him. That high period in his life makes his ending all the more depressing. Especially since it really seemed he was going to keep his addictions down and go on to break out from the "fat guy falls down" comedy and truly make something great one day. What surprised me was the unanimous love for Chris by everyone that is interviewed. Surely they could have found someone out there that knew Chris that thought he was a jerk? Even at his most outrageous he could still find a way to make people love him. To me, that's another tragedy of his life. He was greatly loved and it seems he really didn't see it or, if he did see it, feel he deserved it. It's also impressive for the honesty of all those interviewed. Sure, they all loved Chris but they do not airbrush his faults. Even some of things that made him endearing could become a pain in the behind if a schtick was carried on too long. His drinking, his drug use, his rehab and the problems of and caused by his family are all addressed here. It's an honest book and in a biography, that is all that you can really hope for.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    There's some real interesting tid-bits about his career. It's real depressing to read about his endless struggle with his addictions. But it was even more interesting to see his relationship with his 600 pound father and how he lived to please him. They were never able to acknowledge their problems with drinking and eating. Another thing that took me aback was how deeply religious Chris Farley was. You would never have known that. He comes across as basically the nicest guy in the world, but his add There's some real interesting tid-bits about his career. It's real depressing to read about his endless struggle with his addictions. But it was even more interesting to see his relationship with his 600 pound father and how he lived to please him. They were never able to acknowledge their problems with drinking and eating. Another thing that took me aback was how deeply religious Chris Farley was. You would never have known that. He comes across as basically the nicest guy in the world, but his addictions made it hard for his friends. It took too much out of them. It was a long downward spiral. He never reached the success he should have had, as Chevy Chase so bluntly put it and told Farley. That when he died of an overdose, he'd be just a 'blip' basically and that he wasn't John Belushi (the comparisons were always there). John was a force of nature and confrontational with people. Chris wasn't. He was naive and innocent, in a real genuine way. It would have been real interesting to see him as Shrek and David Mamet's Fatty Arbuckle biopic that he was trying for. And it really sucked to read about the whole Black Sheep fiasco and why his movies were not that good. He got dicked around with having to make a movie for Paramount (I believe) and essentially making a sequel to Tommy Boy (Black Sheep copies the same formula, storyline as Tommy Boy basically). Even though critics panned Tommy Boy, I love that movie to death. They call it a 'minor classic' and I agree. Anytime it comes on TV, I watch it. Chris Farley had that charm. It's a worthwhile read if you're a fan of Chris Farley, I'd say. I was expecting more laughs. Jay Mohr's book "Gasping for Airtime" has some hilarious Farley stories that actually top what was said in this book, really. So yeah, I was hoping for some more funny bits. The one glaring omission is Adam Sandler. I don't know why he wasn't involved, but it stuck out like a sore thumb that he wasn't there when everybody else was.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I'm not typically into biographies or memoirs much, but this one intrigued me, particularly after EW and People magazines gave it extremely good reviews. Turns out they were right. It's like Titanic, in that you know what happens in the end. But the build-up is absolutely fascinating, tragic, and devastating. The Chris Farley Show is presented in three acts of Farley's life. Farley's brother interviewed what must have been nearly 100 people who were close to Chris during his life and put those inte I'm not typically into biographies or memoirs much, but this one intrigued me, particularly after EW and People magazines gave it extremely good reviews. Turns out they were right. It's like Titanic, in that you know what happens in the end. But the build-up is absolutely fascinating, tragic, and devastating. The Chris Farley Show is presented in three acts of Farley's life. Farley's brother interviewed what must have been nearly 100 people who were close to Chris during his life and put those interviews in the book, uncensored. So you get stories about heavy drug use, alcoholism, overeating, and prostitutes, to name a few. Reading about the things that Farley went through, and how no one was able to stop him or help him, was haunting. I didn't know - and it seems like no fan did - what he and his family and friends went through in his last few years. It was as unputdownable as a book can be; I read it in about 4 or 5 days.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katey

    Have you ever read a book, seen a movie or heard a story where you already know how it's going to end, but you're still completely caught off guard when it ends the way you knew it would? I have been sobbing for the last forty-five minutes to an hour, as I finished reading The Chris Farley Show. This book broke me. I have read so many biographies - always about people who died too young; who died before anyone was ready for them to go - and never have I been affected like this. The pile of used kl Have you ever read a book, seen a movie or heard a story where you already know how it's going to end, but you're still completely caught off guard when it ends the way you knew it would? I have been sobbing for the last forty-five minutes to an hour, as I finished reading The Chris Farley Show. This book broke me. I have read so many biographies - always about people who died too young; who died before anyone was ready for them to go - and never have I been affected like this. The pile of used kleenex on my bed is seriously large. I have been crying so hard that I couldn't even read the words on the pages. It's a wonderful book, written in such a first-hand manner that you cannot help but feel it all that much more. The material is so familiar - I know all those sketches; I've seen all those movies - and yet so very foreign. I had no idea how much there was behind it all. It's so tragic and so heart-rending... I don't even know what to say. I'm so glad I read it, but I'm so sad now. I knew what was coming at the end of this book, but I just didn't want it to be true. Read it. It's really, really good. It's poignant and more honest than you want it to be, and funny - but sad-funny. It's hard to read but you can't put it down. It's a heart-breaking story about a wonderful person. I'm a total mess right now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linds

    I always thought that Chris Farley's death was a premature waste of talent. Another early senseless death to drugs and alcohol addiction. What I didn't realize was just what a wonderful man outside of showbuisness he was. Everybody just loved the guy. When he was sober he did volunteer work for a Catholic mission in Hell's Kitchen and visited old people. He didn't just cut a check, he went down there and put the time in. He went to mass every Sunday and I was shocked that he had such deep faith. T I always thought that Chris Farley's death was a premature waste of talent. Another early senseless death to drugs and alcohol addiction. What I didn't realize was just what a wonderful man outside of showbuisness he was. Everybody just loved the guy. When he was sober he did volunteer work for a Catholic mission in Hell's Kitchen and visited old people. He didn't just cut a check, he went down there and put the time in. He went to mass every Sunday and I was shocked that he had such deep faith. This is a transcript of reminisces of most people in his life. His brothers, his friends, his girlfriends, and his co-workers. It gives a very well rounded picture of a loving, hilarious, caring, and ultimately fragile and vulnerable man that couldn't countrol his demons and it killed him. This book is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Oh boy. Speaking as someone who didn't give a damn about "SNL" when Farley was on it -- and who thought his movies were stupid, too -- this book is a sad, sweetly funny, enthralling, deeply moving account of a life that was, by all accounts, filled with incredible promise, both on and offstage. A horribly sad waste of life and talent that Farley's friends and family are still obviously trying to make sense of. (read for review) Oh boy. Speaking as someone who didn't give a damn about "SNL" when Farley was on it -- and who thought his movies were stupid, too -- this book is a sad, sweetly funny, enthralling, deeply moving account of a life that was, by all accounts, filled with incredible promise, both on and offstage. A horribly sad waste of life and talent that Farley's friends and family are still obviously trying to make sense of. (read for review)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    After reading this book, I feel like I know Chris Farley. And that has got to be the sign of a good biography, right? Comedy and tragedy as told by his brothers, friends and colleagues. This book was so well done.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    Wahoo, I just got this for 5 bucks on the bargain shelf!!! Chris Farley (Bus Driver): ... that Veronica Vaughn is one piece of Ase ... I know from experience, if you know what I mean ... Adam Sandler (Billy): ... no you don't ... Chris Farley: ... well, not me personally, but a guy I know, him and her got it on, wooo weeee ... Adam Sandler: ... no they didn't ... Chris Farley: ... no no no, they didn't ... but you can imagine what it'd be like if they did ... "from billy madison" Wahoo, I just got this for 5 bucks on the bargain shelf!!! Chris Farley (Bus Driver): ... that Veronica Vaughn is one piece of Ase ... I know from experience, if you know what I mean ... Adam Sandler (Billy): ... no you don't ... Chris Farley: ... well, not me personally, but a guy I know, him and her got it on, wooo weeee ... Adam Sandler: ... no they didn't ... Chris Farley: ... no no no, they didn't ... but you can imagine what it'd be like if they did ... "from billy madison"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg Zimmerman

    Not sure how, but I missed this book when it was first published in 2008, which is a nearly unforgivable transgression for a Marquette alum. This is so good, but soo so sad. Farley was a beautiful but tortured soul.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrice

    I grew up watching and loving Chris Farley on SNL and in his films. I was just starting to understand the horrible disease of addiction when he died. I was in high school it was 1997 and someone told me in the commons. It was shattering. I'd just lost my first friend to drugs the year before. My friend's death was still so shocking to me and when I heard about Chris Farley I just felt numb. I read this book at work during breaks and while waiting for bills to type. I kept laughing reading the fi I grew up watching and loving Chris Farley on SNL and in his films. I was just starting to understand the horrible disease of addiction when he died. I was in high school it was 1997 and someone told me in the commons. It was shattering. I'd just lost my first friend to drugs the year before. My friend's death was still so shocking to me and when I heard about Chris Farley I just felt numb. I read this book at work during breaks and while waiting for bills to type. I kept laughing reading the first two parts of this book. My co-workers kept asking me what was so funny. I explained that I was reading Chris Farley's biography and they understood. There were parts of this book that were so hard to read I almost didn't want to read the whole thing knowing the ending. Chris Farley was a brilliant and complicated man. There was so much more to him than the characters that he played on screen. At the core of Chris it's so apparent that there was an inherent beauty and goodness in his heart.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I thought this was really good. It is written the same way as the Live from New York book (sequential quotes used to tell the story from family, friends, coworkers, etc). There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff that went down with Farley that no one really knew (Paramount blocking his projects until he made Black Sheep, etc). I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the SNL and/or Farley. It has a lot of facinating stuff. It's a pretty tragic story and isn't really like Belushi I thought this was really good. It is written the same way as the Live from New York book (sequential quotes used to tell the story from family, friends, coworkers, etc). There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff that went down with Farley that no one really knew (Paramount blocking his projects until he made Black Sheep, etc). I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the SNL and/or Farley. It has a lot of facinating stuff. It's a pretty tragic story and isn't really like Belushi at all. I devoured almost the whole book in one day save for 40 pages or so.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Who knew Farley's uncompleted "Shrek" was head and shoulders above Mike Meyer's in terms of its humor and sensitivity? Or that his next role, a biopic about Fatty Arbuckle, would've cemented Farley's place as a dramatic actor? We never saw this man-child even near his peak, and while this book is specifically about that, it is generally about much more. Written from the collected thoughts of those who knew Farley throughout his life, this book would seem to be a hit-or-miss. If you loved Farley, Who knew Farley's uncompleted "Shrek" was head and shoulders above Mike Meyer's in terms of its humor and sensitivity? Or that his next role, a biopic about Fatty Arbuckle, would've cemented Farley's place as a dramatic actor? We never saw this man-child even near his peak, and while this book is specifically about that, it is generally about much more. Written from the collected thoughts of those who knew Farley throughout his life, this book would seem to be a hit-or-miss. If you loved Farley, you'll love this. If not... I'll admit to being surprised, however, that this was bigger than a story about a life that ended too soon. It's about families, brothers, fathers, enabling, entitlement from fame and the disease that took Chris from us too soon.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I plowed through this book in three short days, to the detriment of many other important, even essential, things I should have been doing. It's that captivating. Of course the tale of fame and addiction is nothing new, it's told in a compelling way, offering thoughtful insights into a man I'd never really much considered. I plowed through this book in three short days, to the detriment of many other important, even essential, things I should have been doing. It's that captivating. Of course the tale of fame and addiction is nothing new, it's told in a compelling way, offering thoughtful insights into a man I'd never really much considered.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jon Patterson

    A fascinating read on the tragic life of Chris Farley. The book did an excellent job of compiling accounts from people who were close to Chris. This book offers helpful understanding of addiction, weight struggles, and covering insecurities with humor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Philip Parker

    I truly enjoyed learning about the life of Chris Farley. I realize I saw all of his movies even the ones that stunk. Guess I was more of a fan than I realized. I could also relate with his struggle with addiction especially his food addiction and his attendance at 12 Step meetings for compulsive overeating. It was hard to hear one of his friends slam his 12 step program for compulsive eating stating No One Ever died from eating too much. I am thankful I read this book and learned something about I truly enjoyed learning about the life of Chris Farley. I realize I saw all of his movies even the ones that stunk. Guess I was more of a fan than I realized. I could also relate with his struggle with addiction especially his food addiction and his attendance at 12 Step meetings for compulsive overeating. It was hard to hear one of his friends slam his 12 step program for compulsive eating stating No One Ever died from eating too much. I am thankful I read this book and learned something about Chris

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eden

    I have been a fan of Chris Farley since I was a kid. The first movie of his I remember owning was a VHS tape of Beverly Hills Ninja, which I had watched many times. I was still pretty young when he died and while I was upset, I didn't know that he had died of an overdose. I didn't know anything about his addictions at that time. All I knew that I loved his movies. The documentary I Am Chris Farley premiered August 10th on Spike TV and I watched that. I really enjoyed it. It was a good documentary I have been a fan of Chris Farley since I was a kid. The first movie of his I remember owning was a VHS tape of Beverly Hills Ninja, which I had watched many times. I was still pretty young when he died and while I was upset, I didn't know that he had died of an overdose. I didn't know anything about his addictions at that time. All I knew that I loved his movies. The documentary I Am Chris Farley premiered August 10th on Spike TV and I watched that. I really enjoyed it. It was a good documentary and a nice way to celebrate Chris Farley's life. But I realized there was a lot left out of it. Most of his movies, including up-and-coming movies, were either glossed over or not mentioned. I found out there was a biography about him co-written by one of Chris's brothers and knew I had to give it a read. I have read a number of biographies, but this format is different from any biography I have ever read before. Instead of just researching his life and writing a book from there, there are tons of interviews from his family, friends and people he worked with while he was alive. Although it was different, I really liked it and I felt that this book give quite a good insight into his life and just about who Chris Farley was. He was a kind and caring person. He wanted to make people laugh and he always wanted to please his dad. But, there was pain deep inside, he was struggling with something. And I am just sorry he was never able to beat his addiction. And it is sad that he thought so bad of himself. He didn't want to always be the fat guy that falls down, and I understand that. Chris Farley was never that to me. He made me laugh. A lot. Not because he was overweight, but he was just funny. And his movies were funny. But, I could see from his movies, despite being comedies, he could do more than just be funny. He wanted to do some dramatic roles and I definitely think if he lived, he would have done well in dramatic roles. I also think he would have made an amazing Shrek. Don't get me wrong, I love Mike Myers as Shrek. But, from the clip I heard of Chris Farley as Shrek, that role was made for him. Chris was so loved by so many people and that is made really clear in this book. No one sugar-coated anything. They didn't try to hide his addictions in this book, but it was made clear that despite his problems, Chris was loved and he was actually a really wonderful person. There were so many stories about all the things he'd done for people. I loved reading about that. And I know Chevy Chase was just trying to get through to Chris Farley, trying to get him to really take a look at where his life was going and what would happen to him. But, Chris Farley wasn't just a blip. He wasn't just an overweight guy that only had a few funny things in his career. I know he didn't have a long career, but he made a lot of people happy. And it seems to me, he had a lasting impact on many people who really knew him. This was a sweet, but heart-breaking book at the same time. Chris Farley was a funny, kind and caring guy. I wish he would have been able to beat his addictions so he could still be with us. I'd give this book four and a half stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Evan Dickens

    The Chris Farley Show is one of the most incredibly moving nonfiction books I've ever read. It would be hard for any book to not be at least somewhat moving with this subject matter, as Chris Farley was by all accounts an incredibly unique, warm-hearted, and desperately troubled person. But the book's emotional impact is significantly enhanced by its oral history format: Other than some brief narratives to transition the chapters, the book is entirely excerpts from interviews of almost 100 people The Chris Farley Show is one of the most incredibly moving nonfiction books I've ever read. It would be hard for any book to not be at least somewhat moving with this subject matter, as Chris Farley was by all accounts an incredibly unique, warm-hearted, and desperately troubled person. But the book's emotional impact is significantly enhanced by its oral history format: Other than some brief narratives to transition the chapters, the book is entirely excerpts from interviews of almost 100 people who knew Chris personally. People as close as his brothers and childhood friends, as well as his famous co-stars at Saturday Night Live and those who worked with him on the movies he starred in before his horrific death at age 33. Particularly touching are the interviews with David Spade and the extent to which Spade is willing to cast a negative light on himself and freely admit the sources of the tension between the two. The editors (one of whom is Chris' brother, Tom) seem to have gathered a remarkable amount of honesty from all interview subjects--Penelope Spheeris' attempt to blame David Spade for the failure of Black Sheep is eye-opening. To hear Chris Rock and Bob Odenkirk directly identify the beloved Chippendales sketch as potentially being the tipping point of Chris' fall is also chilling. And the book's sole contribution from Chevy Chase, which is printed on the back, magnifies the sadness of such a wasted talent. This was my first exposure to the oral history format (probably more famous from Live From New York, a poorly edited book that is derisively referenced herein), and I was amazed by the impact that the format has on the subject matter. The interviews are edited together spectacularly to paint the exact picture of Chris' life chronologically, while still maintaining the importance of the entire story being told from the real words of those who knew and loved him. It means so much more to read Adam Sandler's exact words, rather than some Wikipedia-type historical narrative that references Sandler's thoughts. Chris Farley, an absolutely brilliant and tragic hero of modern comedy, receives the honor that his work deserved, but still the spotlight shines brightly on his senseless suicide spiral with hopes that it can be avoided by others. This is a beautiful book, a modern classic of Hollywood biographies, and a must-read for everyone who still can't help but smile at the phrase "van down by the river."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam Nedeff

    The most difficult thing to deal with after you've read this book is that it's so thorough, so comprehensive in the story it tells that it severely alters your perception of anything featuring Chris Farley that you might watch for the rest of your life. There's the Chippendale's skit, his breakout performance on "SNL." And opinion is split 50/50 among the people interviewed for this oral history. Half thought the skit was great, the other half HATED it with a venom that as to be read to be believ The most difficult thing to deal with after you've read this book is that it's so thorough, so comprehensive in the story it tells that it severely alters your perception of anything featuring Chris Farley that you might watch for the rest of your life. There's the Chippendale's skit, his breakout performance on "SNL." And opinion is split 50/50 among the people interviewed for this oral history. Half thought the skit was great, the other half HATED it with a venom that as to be read to be believed. Bob Odenkirk and Chris Rock are its most vocal detractors and they have perfectly valid points. In their eyes, they saw a skit that used and abused a guy who was so eager to please his new co-workers that he wouldn't complain about being humiliated. There's "The Chris Farley Show," the inspiration for the title, and for good reason. It's unanimously agreed that there was no "character" to that skit and that the writers were writing Chris' true personality, a guy who revered people in show business and wanted to just hear them talk about anything. There's "Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker," which made Chris but may have also destroyed him in the long run. Writer Robert Smigel talks with surprising regret over the ending he wrote for the skit and lays out his theory about how just the ending alone altered Chris' future in show business, and not for the better. Chris Farley had all the elements for an all-time "feel good story" if you didn't go into this knowing how it as going to end. He grew up surrounded by love and support, chased a dream, became a TV star, and then a movie star, and through it all, maintained a fierce loyalty to his friends (he tried to skip his first night on "SNL" to be at a friend's wedding) and always seemed to have a sense of awe about the fact that he actually got to do this with his life. And despite all that, he managed to self-destruct. Some of it just seemed to be hard-wired into him from the very beginning, some of it was outside forces (it's hard not to drink when everybody in every bar on Earth wants to buy you a beer), and some of it was that very same sense of awe, that lack of cynicism. Chris Farley trusted people that he should not have trusted, and they helped destroy him. There's part of you that wishes that you could go back in time and hug Chris, and just let him know that he's loved and appreciated. But reading this book, you also find yourself thinking that Chris wouldn't have believed you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aaryn Martin

    Chris Farley, one of the most iconic figures in acting and comedy today, is known for his early work on Saturday Night Live and movies that he starred in such as "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep", and even for kids my age (16) he is a joy to watch on screen. But that's the thing. Kids my age weren't born in time to ever meet Chris while he was alive. Fortunately, this wonderful book exists thanks to Tom Farley Jr. I say that becuase although I was never around to meet Chris Farley, I felt as if I rea Chris Farley, one of the most iconic figures in acting and comedy today, is known for his early work on Saturday Night Live and movies that he starred in such as "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep", and even for kids my age (16) he is a joy to watch on screen. But that's the thing. Kids my age weren't born in time to ever meet Chris while he was alive. Fortunately, this wonderful book exists thanks to Tom Farley Jr. I say that becuase although I was never around to meet Chris Farley, I felt as if I really got to know him as I was reading this book. The book is layed out like a script for a movie or a TV show with speakers such as Norm MacDonald, David Spade, Tim Meadows, Adam Sandler, Farley's brothers and even a speech from the man himself that he gave at a rehab facility while he was sober. Throughout the book, you will learn some interesting things about the mad, comedic genius. For instance, he was very strong in his faith and he very often attended church. Chris was also very superstitious. The very thought of the devil frightened him for years. All of the things you learn about him make you realize what kind of person he really was and he was indeed a very genuine human being. Like most stars in the entertainment industry, Chris fell victim to the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. Things would eventually end for his role on Saturday Night Live because of that. What you find out about Chris, though, is that the drugs and alcohol didn't change the way he felt about people. He was the kind of person that was looking out for everyone else and making sure that you had a shirt on your back. In the book I read a part that said Chris wasn't acting when he did the skit known as "The Chris Farley Show" on Saturday Night Live. That's just really how he was. He was sweet and loving. If you pitched an idea for an SNL skit in a meeting, he would laugh no matter what to acknowledge you. He was truly a great loss to comedy and the world in general. This book gives the opportunity to sit down and really get to know Chris Farley. Not "Matt Foley" the Motivational Speaker or "Tommy Calahan" son of "Big Tom Calahan", but the person who was and still is the true, physical definition of the words "comedic mastermind"...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    For many, Chris Farley might invoke an image of yet another tragic comic lost among a series of actor/comedians such as John Belushi and other overweight, overeager, and overdrugged performers struggling to balance addiction and fame. However, after reading The Chris Farley Show, my image of Mr. Farley has expanded beyond that of a blubbering clown lecturing about living in “a van down by the river;” as Cindy, the starving Gap girl; or as the barely-competent son of a businessman seeking not muc For many, Chris Farley might invoke an image of yet another tragic comic lost among a series of actor/comedians such as John Belushi and other overweight, overeager, and overdrugged performers struggling to balance addiction and fame. However, after reading The Chris Farley Show, my image of Mr. Farley has expanded beyond that of a blubbering clown lecturing about living in “a van down by the river;” as Cindy, the starving Gap girl; or as the barely-competent son of a businessman seeking not much more than a date with a hot girl and his father’s approval. Beginning with his early days in improv and ending with his tragic death, The Chris Farley Show is a compilation of chronological anecdotes from interviews held with Mr. Farley’s closest friends and colleagues, including David Spade, Tim Meadows, Norm Macdonald, Chris Rock, and other members of the comic community more often looked to for comic relief. Like the saying, this book speaks to the underlying truth and pain behind comedy, as these household names most often looked to for laughs are rarely exhibited in such a somber context. As a result of such clever formatting, this book serves as a backstage pass and offers insight into the complexities of a man who contributed much more than the self-described “tubby” or “falling fatty” doing whatever it took to get a laugh. This book is not just for Chris Farley fans, and is arguably better suited for those who were unimpressed by the slapstick humor, as much of his most-known work clearly did not do justice to the great talent discussed throughout the book. The Chris Farley Show made me laugh and made me want to cry, as it is a final tribute to a truly talented performer and kind, devoted, and religious young man who unfortunately fell prey to the demons that arise when fame and drugs collide.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    You could say that Chris Farley came into my life at a perfect time. Middle school and early high school usually isn't fun for anyone, and I certainly struggled to find any confidence in myself during these rough years. The one truly liberating outlet I had (and still do) was comedy. Chris Farley killed me like no one had before (with the exception of Jim Carrey) and helped me to just push on through to the good years ahead. When he died, I was in total shock. Others remember where they were when You could say that Chris Farley came into my life at a perfect time. Middle school and early high school usually isn't fun for anyone, and I certainly struggled to find any confidence in myself during these rough years. The one truly liberating outlet I had (and still do) was comedy. Chris Farley killed me like no one had before (with the exception of Jim Carrey) and helped me to just push on through to the good years ahead. When he died, I was in total shock. Others remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, for me it's Chris Farley. How could such a hilarious, lovable, friendly guy suddenly fall apart and die? At the time, I was aware of his struggles, but never thought they could seriously kill him, just that he'd be better off if he took care of himself. In this book, I found out how long and deep-rooted his personal struggles were. He wasn't just some famous actor taking advantage of a famous lifestyle: he was a real, sensitive person with real mental issues to face. Though I know more about him than I did before reading this book, the "real" Chris Farley is left to be debated. Chris's obstacles to healthy living and the cause of his low self-esteem seem to be situated all in his mind. Was it his brain chemistry? Was it his addictive tendency? Was it manic-depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, clinical depression? Whatever he was or wasn't (besides being absolutely hilarious), his coping mechanisms were God, his family, eating, and drugs. Unfortunately, the latter two took over and eventually destroyed him. Frustratingly, it seems like it could have gone the other way. Many people have pulled themselves out of major psychological jams. In fact, Chris did successfully for three years! Why did he go back to the booze and drugs and completely destructive self-loathing? This book cannot answer that question.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Giddy Girlie

    I had fun with Chris Farley comedies - SNL, Tommy Boy, etc. - but was never a gigantic fan. But when I came across this biography, it called out to me and so I picked it up. It's a very interesting way to handle a bio. His family and friends gave hours of interviews and they were pieced together in timeframes to tell the story of Chris's life. It made for a much more interesting perspective and well-rounded story of who Chris was as a person and not just the public persona that we have seen. It I had fun with Chris Farley comedies - SNL, Tommy Boy, etc. - but was never a gigantic fan. But when I came across this biography, it called out to me and so I picked it up. It's a very interesting way to handle a bio. His family and friends gave hours of interviews and they were pieced together in timeframes to tell the story of Chris's life. It made for a much more interesting perspective and well-rounded story of who Chris was as a person and not just the public persona that we have seen. It was very sweet to read about his very strong religious convictions and his dedication to charity work -- things that were not public knowledge in his lifetime. He was, in reality, exactly like you would have liked him to be. Silly and funny and sweet and caring. He was dedicated to his family and friends in a fierce way; if only he could have turned some of that incredible loyalty and love to himself... One of the back cover quotes says something to the effect of "when we see a public figure struggling with addiction, we often wonder why no one helped them. In this story, we see how even when people do all they can, it isn't enough" and it is so perfectly succinct. I was very glad to read that his friends and family DID try to help him through his struggles with addiction and he also invested a great deal in his sobriety. But his demons were stronger and he found himself repeating the cycle over and over. In fact (not knowing much about Farley, this was new to me) he died while "on a bender" because he was planning to start the new year back in rehab and was ready to invest more time and attention into his sobriety and health. He was trying to have "one last hurrah" and unfortunately it cost him his life (likely because his tolerance was low but he started partying at his former levels, which would have been lethal for anyone).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I thought I knew Chris Farley's story, but what I knew was only the surface. The entire story, in all its glorious and grotesque detail, turns this book from just another tale of a celebrity run amok into a multifaceted portrayal of a regular guy who should have lived a rich, full life. The book is very well-written -- or perhaps I should say well-edited, because the story is told mostly by family and friends whose words were organized by the authors with only occasional narration added to tie i I thought I knew Chris Farley's story, but what I knew was only the surface. The entire story, in all its glorious and grotesque detail, turns this book from just another tale of a celebrity run amok into a multifaceted portrayal of a regular guy who should have lived a rich, full life. The book is very well-written -- or perhaps I should say well-edited, because the story is told mostly by family and friends whose words were organized by the authors with only occasional narration added to tie it all together. Each person interviewed brings her or his own perspective and opinions, so sometimes they appear to contradict one another, but at other times they are in such accord that the reader wonders how Chris himself was the only person in the world who didn't see what was happening. Or maybe he did and simply couldn't stop. That is what this book is at its essence: not the biography of a dead comedian, but rather a cautionary tale of how even someone with so much talent and luck and the love and support of so many people could give it all up to addictions. Kudos to the Farley family for allowing so many to tell the whole story even (especially) when it didn't reflect well on Chris or others in the family. Clearly, they have learned that keeping secrets doesn't help an addict. One hopes that their honesty will keep other families from similar heartbreak.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

    I could save a little face and give this only three stars, but the truth is that I really liked it, and I'm going to stand by that. I read this in little pieces for a few months; would pull it up and read a couple of pages waiting for the train, things like that. It was good for that at first because the beginning of the book is all these fun little anecdotes about Chris Farley growing up and starting his career. (It's written in the same manner as the Live from New York book, lots of little int I could save a little face and give this only three stars, but the truth is that I really liked it, and I'm going to stand by that. I read this in little pieces for a few months; would pull it up and read a couple of pages waiting for the train, things like that. It was good for that at first because the beginning of the book is all these fun little anecdotes about Chris Farley growing up and starting his career. (It's written in the same manner as the Live from New York book, lots of little interview bits by tons of different people mashed together to form a narrative.) Then by the time things get bad, like really bad--post-3-years-of-sobriety-relapse bad--I just plowed through the read the rest in one day because, I mean, we all know what happens and we all know it isn't pretty. Not even going to pretend that this book is objective about Chris Farley(or that I am either, for that matter). I think I probably glorify him just has much as this book does, so hence why I enjoyed reading it. There are few people on TV or movies who ever made me laugh as much as Chris Farley did (does). If you agree, then you might like this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    This is hands down one of the best biographies I've ever read. I've been a fan of SNL for many years and Chris is my favorite cast member of all time. Every time he was in a skit, you just can't take your eyes off him. He was so gifted and charismatic. I also love "Tommy Boy." To me, that's one of the most feel- good movies in the world. When I read this book, I felt like I was reading about someone I knew. Not only does the reader find out how funny he was in real life, but also how kind, sensi This is hands down one of the best biographies I've ever read. I've been a fan of SNL for many years and Chris is my favorite cast member of all time. Every time he was in a skit, you just can't take your eyes off him. He was so gifted and charismatic. I also love "Tommy Boy." To me, that's one of the most feel- good movies in the world. When I read this book, I felt like I was reading about someone I knew. Not only does the reader find out how funny he was in real life, but also how kind, sensitive and tortured he was. The reader gets to know the man he was, the brother, the son, the friend. I absolutely loved how this book went into a lot of detail. I loved reading about his childhood, family, time on SNL, etc.The way people talk about him in the book is a way for the reader to get the experience of knowing who he was, as a person. Reading about his addictions wasn't easy. I really felt like I wanted to help him. It really is a terrible loss. It's very frustrating to know what his future projects were and what he didn't get to finish. I was sobbing when I read the last 2 chapters. I recommend this book to any Chris Farley/SNL fans. He's one of a kind.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    I wasn't sure what I was going to write for a review when I clicked to add this title. Then I saw the Goodreads ads running down the side with links to sites about diet and weight loss and the anger I felt while reading the book returned. Even this many years after his death, we are unable to separate the talent of the man from the size of the man. One of the most gifted physical comedians ever born, Farley could create equally huge laughs bursting through a wall or simply cocking his head an inc I wasn't sure what I was going to write for a review when I clicked to add this title. Then I saw the Goodreads ads running down the side with links to sites about diet and weight loss and the anger I felt while reading the book returned. Even this many years after his death, we are unable to separate the talent of the man from the size of the man. One of the most gifted physical comedians ever born, Farley could create equally huge laughs bursting through a wall or simply cocking his head an inch and making a face. But he had some severe problems, not the least of which was his own self-image. The book is heartbreaking in its depiction of the sad clown forced to make unfulfilling career choices because the audience and (to a much greater degree) the studio executives demanded to see fatty fall down.

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