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Bob Odenkirk Is Not A Fan Of Chris Farley's Famous Chippendale's SNL Sketch, But He Has A Good Reason

Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze in "Chippendales" skit on SNL screenshot
(Image credit: SNL)

While you may know Bob Odenkirk best from Breaking Bad and his own spinoff Better Call Saul, which has just finished shooting its final season, he certainly has a pretty expensive history in TV. Odenkirk has both written and performed in Saturday Night Live sketches, back when some of the most iconic sketches were debuting on the show. And while he's still fond of a lot of it, the actor/writer has now spoken out about why he dislikes Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley's famed “Chippendales” sketch so much, and his reasoning is both heartbreaking and understandable.

Bob Odenirk and Chris Farley were pretty close back in the ‘90s comedy scene when they were both working on SNL, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Odenkirk talks about his distaste for the "Chippendales" sketch that put Farley on the map, which comes from a place of friendly compassion. The sketch featured Chris Farley dancing shirtless beside the far more ripped Patrick Swayze, earning laughs from the obvious body differences between the two. 

According to Bob Odenkirk, the sketch and the audience’s reaction to the dancing confirmed a major insecurity that Farley suffered from during his comedy career. According to Odenkirk:

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.

Even though Bob Odenkirk did work as a writer on the episode of SNL that featured the "Chippendales" sketch, it’s unclear if he had anything to do with how the final product came out. It is true that some other writers saw value in the sketch, partially because it showed off how physically talented Farley was despite his heavier frame. However, it’s clear that at this point in life, Odenkirk vilifies that particular sequence.

In fact, in the same interview, Bob Odenkirk drops an F-Bomb when talking about the sketch, saying that he can read the foul feelings on Chris Farley's face when watching, which isn't fun for him to think about. In his words: 

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. Fuck that sketch.

“Chippendales” may have helped turn Chris Farley into more of a superstar, but some of his long-time friends and colleagues seem to think that it didn’t do much to help his self esteem. Chris Rock has also spoken out about his friend and his own distaste for the skit, with the thought that it negatively impacted Farley's confidence.

You can check out the sketch for yourself below for reference, but it’s also important to remember that Farley was a comedic actor, and his performance may not reflect his own inner thoughts on the skit:

Chris Farley struggled with addiction throughout his career, and passed away due to a drug overdose in 1997, just 7 years after “Chippendales” first aired. While the sketch certainly can’t be blamed in full for the issues that led to his death, mental health is a defining factor in a lot of addict behavior. And even though the past cannot be changed in cases like this, stars and writers like Bob Odenkirk speaking out about perceived problems such as the “Chippendales” sketch helps ensure similarly negative experiences don’t happen for others in the future. 

The anniversary of Chris Farley’s death was just a couple months ago, and stars like Kenan Thompson spoke out about how Farley impacted their life and career. SNL wouldn’t be the same today if Chris Farley hadn’t stepped on its stage, even without the “Chippendales” sketch, and we can still see his impact in the long running show today, with stars even referencing Farley in their sketches. He is still very missed.

You can check out what’s upcoming for Saturday Night Live in our schedule of upcoming SNL hosts, with new episodes airing on the titular night at 11:30 p.m. ET. While you won’t find Bob Odenkirk or Chris Farley on it, their impact is certainly still present on the stage.

Carlie Hoke
Carlie Hoke

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.