Bob Odenkirk On Shaping Chris Farley’s Matt Foley Character

Before Better Call Saul. Before Breaking Bad. Before Mr. Show with Bob and David, and even before Saturday Night Live, Bob Odenkirk worked at The Second City in Chicago.

While there, he performed and helped write Chris Farley’s iconic motivational speaker character, Matt Foley. And even 30 years later, Odenkirk still tells Conan O’Brien it was the best thing he’s ever done in comedy.

As he recalled for Monday’s Conan:

We were rehearsing and and improvising scenes after the main stage show and we did some improvisation where we were doing like an anti-drug speech to students and it was improvised. We were goofing around. And Chris did a version of Matt Foley. He didn’t have the glasses or the suit, but he was just hectoring the kids with that empty you know, ‘By golly, you kids are gonna get it together!’ You know it was just that voice of a coach who’s just, really doesn’t know what he’s saying…but is trying to put a lot of emphasis in it and, and I just went home with that voice in my head. It was very funny and I sat down with a legal pad and wrote up that sketch exactly the way it’s done.

Although Robert Smigel added him mashing the table at Saturday Night Live because we didn’t do that at Second City. Second City he marched out the door and everybody ran for the exits so 0that they wouldn’t be there when he got back. So then I brought it in the next day and holy crap, Chris, I mean it was just amazing how it it just came to life, and filled that theater every night.

My daughter asked me once: What was the most fun you ever had doing what you do? And I told her and I still, I think I still believe it would be the eight shows a week with Chris doing the motivational speaker. Because you know, I’ve never seen anything hit so hard every time, and Chris wouldn’t leave the stage until he made all the performers laugh. That was, he was driven to make you laugh when he did the sketch every single night, so he’d be throwing in different things. He’d come right in your face pushing his glasses up, and, it was the greatest. It was pure awesomeness.”

And here’s Farley’s Foley debut on SNL:

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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