40 Years Of SNL: Chris Farley

For our “Icon Issue” we picked our 5 favorite cast members from the first 40 Years of SNL. Included in that list is of course Chris Farley. To read the entire list, and see all of Sean Dockery’s art, pick up our Icon Issue today!

Singer/NBCU Photo Bank

Many would describe Chris Farley’s tenure on SNL as noisy, clumsy and crude. Detractors may not have always agreed with his methods, but nobody could argue that Farley knew how to make people laugh in a big way.

Farley was a member of Saturday Night Live from 1990-1995. Chris Rock, David Spade and Adam Sandler all shared the stage with him. They were also all good friends with the late comedian. “He was a tour de force on the show and dominated. He could dominate anybody. There’s nobody that can walk into a room and take over better than Farley. I haven’t seen anyone since he’s gone that’s taken that spot. He’s the strongest presence I’ve ever seen.” said Sandler in a recent interview with thedailybeast.com. The early and mid 90s’ era of Live was an odd time for the sketch program. The cast was jammed with huge stars, but critically SNL was heavily scrutinized. A lot of critics felt the comedy in that period relied too heavily on slapstick and silly characters.

One of Farley’s biggest inspirations was John Belushi. Both men were physically large, but both moved far more gracefully than you would think based on their weight. Belushi and Farley are arguably the two greatest physical comedians to ever be a part of the SNL cast. They shared many things in common—including dying young due to substance abuse.

Some of the notable sketches Farley appeared in include “The Chris Farley Show” and “Gap Girls.” His most famous character is the motivational speaker Matt Foley. Farley’s opponents when he was on SNL thought he was the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the show’s comedy—and they would probably cite the abovementioned sketches as proof of that. Yes, Farley was loud and often the crutch of his clowning was the fact that he was overweight. But, there was an honesty and sweetness to his characters that made them special. It was impossible to not like Farley, even if you didn’t believe his form of humor was all that sophisticated.

Chris Farley never struggled with his job on SNL—which was making people laugh. Regardless of how he did his work, he made people laugh as hard as anyone in the show’s history.

A documentary on the life of Chris Farley will release next month titled, I am Chris Farley.


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