Like most prominent comedians in Hollywood, Bob Odenkirk started out as a writer on Saturday Night Live in the waning years of the 1980s. During his last season as a staff writer on the show, Chris Farley's "Chippendales Audition" sketch aired, and ended up as a bit of a cult classic. In his new memoir, Odenkirk aired out his complete disdain for the bit, because it was designed entirely for the audience to laugh at the fact Farley was overweight.
"The first breakout moment for Chris was the 'Chippendales Audition' sketch on the Patrick Swayze–hosted episode in season 16," Odenkirk writes in Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama, due out in a matter of days.
"It was a huge bummer to me to see that scene get on the air and get such attention. I know it confirmed Chris's worst instincts about being funny, which was how he proved his worth — that getting laughed at was as good as getting a laugh. Writers I knew and respected defended this sketch because it had a funnyish idea buried in it: the Chippendales judges prefer Swayze's dancing over Chris's but can't put a finger on why," he adds. "But that idea is not what produced the gales of cackling (and gasps) from the live audience. Chris flopping his overstuffed body around did that. I feel like I can see it on his face in the moment when he rips his shirt off. Shame and laughter are synthesized in the worst way. F--- that sketch."
Farley would pass away six years after the sketch due to a drug overdose at the age of 33.
Odenkirk's far from the lone SNL alumni to criticize the sketch. Chris Rock spoke about the situation in an appearance on The Howard Stern Show last year.
"Here's the thing: The sketch is funny. I'm not going to say Farley dancing as a Chippendales dancer isn't funny. But at the end of the sketch, the guy comes up to Farley and goes, 'You're fat, disgusting,'" Rock said at the time. "He felt ugly, he didn't feel attractive. He didn't feel like people really wanted to be around him and that sketch kind of fed into that."