The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts
Tom Farley, Jr. & Tanner Colby
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: May 6, 2008
Publisher: Penguin (Viking Adult)
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis [from penguingroup.com]:
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 and 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.
I remember watching Tommy Boy for the first time and falling in love with Chris Farley. He was adorable and absolutely hilarious. And while Black Sheep didn't leave a lasting impression on me, I do remember a fair share of laughter going on. While reading this book I learned that Chris was originally supposed to be in The Cable Guy and Shrek. And even though I can't imagine the two movies without Jim Carrey and Mike Myers, I still wonder where Chris could have taken the roles.
Chris also starred in other movies but he was probably best known for his many performances on Saturday Night Live. I haven't seen many of the older episodes with him in it but I plan to track some DVDs down and watch them sometime soon. Chris was an amazingly gifted comedian and actor. His premature death was, in my opinion, a loss for the entire world.
This biography allowed me to take a closer look into who Chris was, his career, and the downward spiral that was his addiction. It's told in snippets of interviews done by his older brother Tom Farley, Jr. and Tanner Colby. Chris' life is retold by old friends, family members, co-workers, and other people who were in contact with him. It was honest and heartfelt and gave me a better understanding of Chris "the person", rather than Chris "the comedian". I found myself still truly caring about Chris when I was through with the book. Even though there was more to Chris than comedy, I got a sense that he was born to make others laugh and to bring joy to other people's lives. Corny, I know, but Chris' story is definitely one worth reading.
I also really enjoyed the different photos that were in the book. Many of them made me smile and I though it was an excellent addition.
I'm sure his story will touch many people because sadly, addiction is everywhere. I highly recommend this to any Chris Farley fan and even to people that are just curious about what happened to him.
I've included some excerpts from the book from a few different people that I hope will maybe sway you into picking up a copy:
"If Dad instilled anything in Chris it was this love of the underdog, for the kid that's getting picked on. If I were driving down the road and you made a joke about some strange-looking homeless person out on the sidewalk, man he'd lock those brakes up and the hand would come back. You didn't dare do that." (p. 16 - Tom Farley, brother)
"One of the cool things about Chris, and one of the noble things about Chris, is that if he made somebody's day better, if he could ease the pain and sadness in the world just a bit, that was why he felt he was here." (p. 40 - Pat Finn, friend)
"Keith Richards said that the first time he heard rock and roll, it was like the whole world went from black and white to technicolor. That's how Chris always seemed to describe finding comedy." (p. 56 - Brian Stack, cast member, Ark Improvisational Theater)
"His greatest love was just the act of laughter itself. As much as he made other people laugh, to watch Chris do it was the most beautiful thing you'd ever see. Nobody could laugh with as much unbridled glee. He'd just go into this paroxysms of mirth. If Chris laughed at one of your jokes, you felt like the king of the world." (p. 157 - Norm Macdonald, writer/Weekend Update anchor)
"I was just blown away by the life that Chris had lived. There was a deep melancholy in the room, but you also felt this great love from everyone. He had touched so many people. As sad as I was, I was really proud of him." (p. 321-322 - Kevin Farley, brother)
Thank you Caitlin from FSB Associates for sending me the copy to review!