The documentary I Am Chris Farley looks into the highs and lows of the life of one of the greatest comedians of all time. A natural, Farley began entertaining loved ones from an early age. Family members and friends speak out in the film about the happiest of times involving Farley, and also give viewers a glimpse of the toll stardom can take on a person. At the beginning of his career, it appeared that Farley's success would be never-ending - everywhere he went, he was applauded and recognized by fans. But it wasn't all fun and games for Farley. His alcohol use became more excessive as his self-esteem and confidence took a turn for the worse.
The middle child in his family, Farley grew up alongside four siblings, including three brothers and a sister. His brother Kevin described him in the documentary, I Am Chris Farley, as the “black sheep” and “the strange one.” Farley’s sister, Barb, described the household they grew up in as “having it all.” Homemade family videos portrayed happy children, laughing, swimming, and playing together outside. Farley was most often the center of attention in the family and made everything “a game.” Farley himself once told David Letterman with a chuckle that he put his family “through hell.”
Constantly trying to make his family laugh was only the beginning of what would become a lifetime of laughter that he shared with the world.
Farley's parents weren't exactly strict, and seldom got angry with their mischievous son - even when he went to questionable lengths to make other students laugh. A football player classmate dared Farley to "whip out his d*ck" and type with it in high school, recalled Farley's brother Tom.
Farley took his friend up on the prank, which a female classmate found more offensive than amusing. The school principal called Farley's father, who laughed it off as his son just being a jokester. Farley was made to leave his high school for a semester as a result of the incident - a consequence Farley himself found hilarious.
Farley attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, where he discovered his love for rugby. The sport, which involved heavy drinking among the players, gave him the coveted chance to be part of a team.
Not being in the best of shape, Farley tried doubly hard to be the best player on the team. And he couldn't help but add comedy to his games - by, for example, pulling up his shorts so high that it appeared he was wearing a thong. He put on a show while playing, shouting loudly and performing whatever antics brought him the attention he craved.
When Mike Meyers was hired to perform on Saturday Night Live (SNL), he was asked who else he thought would be a great fit. Farley immediately came to mind. "I listed a bunch of names," Myers said on I Am Chris Farley, "but the first name I said was Chris Farley."
It didn't take long for the show's creator, Lorne Michaels, to visit Second City to see Farley for himself. He said he was immediately taken by his charismatic, hilarious nature, and called him "infuriatingly talented." Without hesitation, he hired Farley, who, though initially frightened, soon began to thrive.