Howard Stern is sounding off on the famous Saturday Night Live sketch that many say led to Chris Farley’s demise.
In October 1990, the Tommy Boy actor starred alongside guest Patrick Swayze in one of the most famous sketches of SNL history that showed them competing for a Chippendales gig. Even those who have never seen the full sketch have likely seen a clip or reference of it at some point: the chiseled Swayze competes with a not-so-chiseled Farley as they both show off their shirtless dance moves to Loverboy‘s Working for the Weekend.
The sketch was a huge hit at the time, with audiences laughing at the fact that Farley was the complete opposite of the Adonis figures that one associates with Chippendales performers. However, it’s been reevaluated in the years since Farley’s overdose as not-so-funny, and has even been attributed to the start of the comedian’s downfall.
But one SNL writer still stands by it: Robert Smigel defended the sketch during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, telling the host:
“It’s a great sketch and I was in a debate about it with some people who wrote Chris Farley’s book, which was everybody kind of weighing in on Chris’ life and what happened to him.”
Referencing the 2009 biography The Chris Farley Show, Smigel added:
“I think someone in the book said, ‘That sketch was the first step in killing him,’ because it was like he had no respect for himself by doing that sketch.”
The quote in the book actually comes from Chris Rock, who described the sketch as “a weird moment in Chris’ life,” musing:
“As funny as that sketch was, and as many accolades as he got for it, it’s one of the things that killed him. It really is. Something happened right then.”
Bob Odenkirk, who was a writer on SNL as well, also took issue with the Chippendales sketch, saying in the book that it was “f**king lame,” adding:
“I can’t believe anyone liked it enough to put it on the show. F**k that sketch. He never should have done it.”
During their recent conversation, Stern defended the sketch as well. The shock jock explained that while the controversy stems from critics who feel Farley is “just being made fun of because he’s a fat guy,” that wasn’t exactly the case, because the actor “wasn’t just a fat guy, he was one of the greatest comics.”
It’s true. He WAS one of the greatest comics. Still is, TBH.
“What was amazing about the sketch and what people forget is that Farley was incredibly nimble, he was an athlete and he danced incredibly well in that sketch, actually. He had this fantastic energy and, in a way, it was a very empowering sketch and I think that’s what people felt the first time they watched it. ‘Look at this guy go and be completely proud, unashamed and just going for it.”
Stern also mentioned how the sketch showed off what a great physical comedian Farley — who died of a drug overdose in 1997 at 33 years old — was, to which Smigel replied:
“He was the most explosively funny person and I think most people who worked at that time would agree with that.”
Do U agree with this, Perezcious readers? Was this classic sketch really “empowering,” or was it just poking fun at Farley’s weight? Re-watch it (below) and share your thoughts in the comments.
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