Sunday 30 November 2014

Book ~ "The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts" (2008) Tom Farley Jr. and Tanner Colby

From Goodreads ~ 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.

I liked Saturday Night Live back in the beginning and had stopped watching it by the time Chris Farley (1964 - 97) was on it in the early to mid-1990s. I hadn't seen a lot of what he was in (he'd only been in ten movies and starred in four of those) but I thought his story would be interesting ... and it was.

It's written by one of his brothers, Tom, and starts back when they were kids.  Chris was a football jock and always wanted to get laughs.  He barely got through university and went to work for his family's business, which was run by his dad and started by his grandfather (his dad had to quit school and give up his dreams to take over the business when his grandfather got sick).  Though he eventually quit so he could pursue his dream of getting into comedy, Chris never stopped seeking his father's approval.  

Like his father, Chris had an addiction to food and alcohol.  No one acknowledged that their father had addictions, though (his father was over 600 pounds when he died a year after Chris).  Chris was in and out of rehab for food, drugs and alcohol over the years.  He eventually was clean for three years but something drove him back into it the last two years of his life.  He couldn't get work because no one would insure him until he was clean for two years, which didn't happen.

I liked the structure of the book.  Instead of Tom telling the story, it is told by his brothers, friends and co-stars (like Alec Baldwin, Tim Meadows, David Spade, Chris Rock, John Goodman and Lorne Michaels).

It's a sad story.  Chris had so much going for him but he couldn't control his demons.  He was religious and went to mass every week, had priests for friends and helped so many people ... but he couldn't help himself.

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