The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by Tom Farley & Tanner Colby

This book is set up in interview format with contributions from most of Chris Farely’s family, friends, coworkers, and others.  It gives a very detailed, entertaining, and emotionally exhausting view of what being in Chris Farely’s life must have been like.  Chris seemed to be one of those kids born to make others laugh.  It came so natural to him that choosing any other career choice would have been blatantly slapping destiny in the face.  It’s amazing to read that so much life was lived and wasted in only 33 years.  

It’s hard to believe that Chris’s career only spans roughly five years.  In that time he went from Second City, to Saturday Night Live, to block buster movies to household name.  He was supposed to be the voice of Shrek and had recorded all of the voice work for the first movie.  After he died the studio went with Mike “One Voice Wonder” Myers because of the sequel potential.  

I read this book in one sitting.  It is so engrossing even though the ending is obvious.  I turned from page to page searching for any reason as to why Chris was so determined to destroy himself.  He had been to every rehab clinic in the US, some more than once, all of his friends and family begged him to get more help, and yet there was always something about him that seemed resigned to the inevitable. Reading through each person’s account of what happened is so telling and emotionally exhausting that you really feel like you knew Chris personally by the end of the book.  

One of Chris’s brother’s is the author of this book, and he drives the story away from Chris being his own worst enemy and puts the blame on their father.  The point is put across several times that their father was oblivious if not encouraging of alcoholism and overeating because of his own addiction problems.  Chris had such a childlike desperation to please his father and to be like his father that he picked up his father’s demons.  In a very dysfunctional way, Chris’s death almost seemed like the ultimate sign of how much he loved his father.  

The intrinsic problem with this kind of biography is that we never truly get Chris’s actual point of view, so there’s always the issue of trusting a third party narrator.  One of Chris’s close female friends claimed that towards the end of his life he told her the specific reason why he could never get clean and told her to never tell anyone else, ever.  Technically I could make that claim as well, so there’s no validity to those kinds of statements in the book.  It is still worth it to read how much Chris meant to his friends and how his death still affects them.

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