Dec22 Chris Farley Opoen

On a warm summer evening in 1985, a nervous, 21-year-old Chris Farley found himself alone onstage at open mic night at The Comedy Cellar on State Street. He’d been telling everyone he’d someday be a stand-up comedian — ever since he was just a kid showboating with friends in his parent’s yard — and his moment had finally arrived. Visions of comedic grandeur danced in his head as he approached the mic. Sam Kinison had performed there for a string of three consecutive weeks the year before, and he was now the hottest comic on the planet, going from the Cellar to Letterman in less than a year.

Farley took a breath and started. “Um, hi everyone. I’m Chris … ”


The Ark pictured on North Bassett Street. (Video still courtesy of WKOW Television)


From a 1987 “Inside Madison” WKOW segment, stills show an array of Farley characters he portrayed on The Ark’s stage in Madison. (Video stills courtesy of WKOW Television Inc.)

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Chris Farley’s The Second City headshot. (Photo courtesy of The Second City)