Comedian Chris Farley rose to fame as a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early ’90s. Among his most memorable roles is motivational speaker Matt Foley, who lives in a van down by the river and “doesn’t amount to Jack Squat!” Of course, there was his role as a Da Bears fan and also as the host of a fake The Chris Farley Show ‘ in which he stuttered nervously through interviews with famous people like Paul McCartney. His time on SNL alongside David Spade, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider translated easily into film roles, where he showcased his incredible comedic timing and physicality in classic films like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and others used “Beverly Hills Ninja.”
But all that talent vanished in December 1997, when Farley was found dead in his apartment at the age of 33 from an opiate and cocaine overdose, according to the Chicago Tribune. The outlet also reported at the time that it was the same drug cocktail that killed another famous “SNL” cast member, John Belushi, years earlier. Any secrets Farley kept he took with him to his grave, but at his funeral some of his friends and colleagues learned that he was leading a very private and secret double life that none of them knew about.
Norm MacDonald only found out about Chris Farley’s secret life at his funeral
One of Chris Farley’s castmates on “SNL” was Canadian comedy legend Norm MacDonald, who hosted “Weekend Update” on the show. After Farley died, MacDonald did not share what he had learned about his friend until after his death.
Speaking to Howard Stern on the shock jock’s SiriusXM radio show, he revealed, “When we went to the funeral, we were shocked that he had the second life in Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to soup kitchens … and so he had the second life.” live where he [was in] Service to God.” MacDonald also revealed in that interview that Farley’s famous motivational speaker on “SNL” was named after his true friend, Matt Foley, who was a priest. MacDonald himself tragically died in 2021 after being diagnosed with cancer.
In 2019, A&E aired a documentary about Farley called Anything For a Laugh, in which other cast members shared what they knew about his second life in philanthropy. Castmate Al Franken, who later became a senator, recounted that Farley would visit nursing homes and volunteer at soup kitchens while living in NYC and revealed that he arranged a visit between Farley and a sick boy in a hospital children’s ward, who was very emotional. Franken revealed the encounter at the hospital, and visiting other children there just to make them laugh resulted in the two men crying in an elevator as they exited the Boston Globe.
There’s a secret Chris Farley shared with Norm Macdonald
In the early ’90s, one of the most popular recurring skits on Saturday Night Live was “It’s Pat,” a mind-bending gag about an androgynous character named Pat, played by Julia Sweeney. Every time the skit played, fans and viewers wondered if Pat could reveal her gender (this was before the days of the widespread understanding that gender exists on a spectrum and isn’t binary). But in 2016, when Norm MacDonald, Adam Sandler, David Space and Rob Schneider guest-starred on “Conan” with Conan O’Brien, MacDonald offered a rare glimpse into the personality of her late friend and colleague Chris Farley.
When MacDonald first joined “SNL,” he said he and Farley made friends quickly when Farley pulled him aside to share top-secret information about Pat. “He put me in this room and locked it and made sure it wasn’t bugged,” MacDonald told Entertainment Weekly. “He said, ‘I have a secret to tell you.’ I was very honored to have that. And then his secret was – he said, ‘This doesn’t get beyond these walls. Pat’s a woman!'”
Wherever Farley and MacDonald are now, we hope they’re arm in arm and still giggling at their inside joke.
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