Monday, December 20, 2010

The Troubles of Fat Comedians: John Belushi and Chris Farley

I've often wondered about this question? Everyone knows that class clowns were often fat, maybe to deflect being made fun of? To make joy to cover up the pain? The fat comedian is a stereotype same as the sad clown. It is known that many male comedians are fat, and they can be the funniest folks out there. However there is a dark side to this phenomenon, just about every fat comedian out there has showed massive pain, insecurity and worse, that goes beyond the usual Hollywood fare.

One of the favorite comedians out there was John Belushi, I have read many of his biographies, and it was sad to read how behind the scenes he did start trying to break out against his big guy funny status, seeking serious roles.

Hollywood did not treat well Belushi's attempt to break the mold he had formed. Fresh, from NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Life", Belushi became a break out star in his 3rd season in Animal House as the ever greedy couch prowling slob Bluto. He rose fast to the top circa 1978. It was a role that served as Belushi's entrance into Hollywood but also became a trap, four years passed before a serious dramatic role came his way in Continental Divide [1981] loosely based on the late crusty Chicago Tribune Columnist Mike Royko. That movie only became a mere cult success.

Hollywood had a different agenda in mind for its favorite college rabble-rouster especially when it witnessed the mountains of profit, Bluto's character had spun off. This expressed itself in massive theatre revenues, but took on less subtler forms too. Within a year, three networks rushed to develop sitcoms complete with it's own resident rebel couch potatoes. It's only speculative to see what Belushi may have been capable of and what would have a sober Belushi been able to have done, free of serious drug addictions? Belushi admitted to many negative feelings regarding his weight and what kind of roles he was being given. He felt he had been forever type-cast. Before his death in 1982, he was under major pressure to do a movie called "The Joy of Sex" whose scenes included a typical male from birth to death and called for the wearing of an enormous diaper. Why wouldn't a man be troubled over such indignities?

Twenty years later, the cycle repeated itself in the late 90s with Chris Farley, Farley grew up on the same taunts used to haunt his father. "My Father is a big man", the comic told US magazine during that time, "600 pounds maybe more, I worry about him, I love him dearly with all my heart and I see him when he goes to the mall, and the fingers pointing and the laughing and it's ****** tragic! It's terrible to see the fear in his ****** eyes. God ***** it, man he doesn't want to be like that. For Christ's sake, he doesn't want to be that big. People don't understand, and they laugh and they think it's funny but it's very sad for the person afflicted."

Chris Farley too fulfills the stereotype of the fat comedian who used self-depreciating humor and wild buffoonish behavior to gain audiences attention. In one of his TV appearance in 1997, Farley cavorted through a diner pursued by cops on Fox's Mad TV. The laughter flowed as Farley plowed through tray after tray of take out food. Farley was to die as a result of a drug overdose and drinking too. His biography too reveals the dysfunction, the severe struggles with addiction and embarrassment about his weight as well. Too often this story has played itself out, fat comic using humor as a vehicle to hide the years of pain about being fat in today's society, achieving fame but inside feeling the disrespect. It was revealed Chris Farley even said: "I don't want to be the fat guy who falls down anymore."


  1. Hi

    There is a lot out there about Jackie Gleason and his battle with depression and fat.

  2. Thanks William, I would like to look into that. I would not doubt it. I read Chris Farley's biography and it made me cry, he suffered a lot of pain behind the scenes.

  3. I loved Jackie Gleason,he was one of my favorite comedians;he even said,one time,when he was starting out,the boss told him he had to lose weight.So,he did,he got thin.Then,they said,You cannot do comedy anymore.And he answered"Why not,I got thin,like you wanted!!"And they answered,"But thin,you are not funny."so that killed it.

  4. Wow that is interesting Dorothy. You know you can think of people that happened to who were far more popular when fat, Star Jones is one example, she was loved when fat, had weight loss surgery, now looks ill not even same person, and her career just went downward. Al Roker maybe another example except his career has some life on cable channels. Alton Brown needs to start eating again or get well, whatever is wrong with him, the poor man just looks ill. But in comedic world, fat and comedians goes together, even for the females, like Roseanne Barr.

  5. I really liked chris farley, I really liked tommy boy, black sheep wasn't half bad. his ninja one was to stupid. almost heroes was just beyond weird.

    to bad about the drugs thing though. drugs seem to be a hard thing for the rich and famous to avoid, look at hugh o conner. he had everything going for him, but he couldn't quit the drugs.