I miss Chris Farley. I miss Phil Hartman. It's hard to imagine these guys have been gone for twenty years.
Growing up as a heavy kid, my daydreams primarily were built from, "when I get skinny, ::this:: will happen...". I didn't actually see this sketch till I was in high school, right at the point where I started getting taller and slimming out. My first thought as I saw Farley come rumbling up the steps, gut proudly hanging over his belt as he tugged and shifted his pants from side to side was, "shit, maybe I should have embraced and OWNED the whole fat thing." (I still never did in all my weight fluctuations as an adult, by the way.)
Farley was like a ballet dancer in a 350 lb. frame. He could do cartwheels, he could dance, he could be graceful, then serve as a fucking wrecking ball for the entire set. It was amazing to watch.
This sketch stands as the greatest thing he'd done. Say what you want about the Chippendale's dance bit with Patrick Swayze (I miss Patrick Swayze. FUCK, everyone is dead), but that sketch is essentially, "whoa, look how hot Swayze is... hahaha the other guy is fat."
We got to see his affect on the other cast members and hosts (how Christina Applegate perfectly got her "I wanna live in a van down by the river" line out in-between laughs still baffles me to this day), we got to see him crash onto a table like an ace, and bring this manic, loud, insane, yet incredibly vulnerable quality to everything he did.
And the line, "Livin' in a van down by the river!" Just THINK about that for a second. Imagine that guy, with the barn doors of his van wide-open, scrubbing his thighty-whiteys on a rock, fist at the sky, cursing the world whilst scarfing down government cheese.
After watching it over and over again, I would perform this whole sketch -- every character's line -- in the mirror, in the shower, and quietly to myself as I delivered newspapers for months on end. Just now, as I rewatched it to refresh myself, I was still able to recite every single word.
I've always wanted to be on Saturday Night Live, and it's a regret of mine that I didn't put in the work to do so when I was in my early-twenties. Fuck, I had so much time to do things in my twenties. I thought I was so busy. Seriously, what was I doing? I cannot for the life of me remember what I was so busy with that was so important.
What was I talking about? Oh yes! Chris Farley. Farley was a loud, bombastic reminder that as a performer, what you've got to work with is what you've been given. Farley took what he had and built a fucking continent. There's no reason why any of us shouldn't be out there doing the same.