When Chris Rock joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1990, he and fellow freshman comic Chris Farley became fast friends. Rock and Farley, along with Adam Sandler and David Spade, would go on to be referred to as “The Bad Boys of SNL,” a comedy brotherhood as famous for their off-screen hijinks as their on-screen successes. Rock and the late Farley enjoyed only seven years together, but as the Esquire Summer cover star explains, Farley left a lifelong mark.
In a segment of Explain This, Rock reminisced about the story behind an old photo of himself, Sandler, Farley, and David Spade. The photo was taken during Rock’s first big comedy tour following Bring the Pain, on the evening of his show at LA’s now-defunct Universal Amphitheatre. It was a star-studded night, with a who’s who of Hollywood turning out to support Rock, including Madonna and Richard Pryor.
“This looks like one of the last times I saw Chris alive,” Rock remembered. “I would see him one more time when I did a gig in Chicago. We tried to hang out afterwards, but… I don’t know if you’ve ever really hung out with an addict. Towards the end, anything that isn’t the drug is a chore.”
Following years of drug and alcohol addiction, Farley died of a morphine and cocaine overdose in December 1997. Over two decades later, he remains close to the hearts of the Bad Boys of SNL; Sandler even went so far as to memorialize him in a song when he hosted SNL in 2019. Though Farley passed away many years ago, Rock remembers their last night together with striking clarity.
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“I remember I was at his apartment,” Rock said. “He was showing me his apartment. I leave, I see him out the window, and I was like, ‘That’s probably the last time I’m going to see him.’ I knew.”
Yet despite the tragedy that struck the group, Rock and his SNL cohort remain close, with fond memories of the past continuing to propel their friendship, forged in the SNL trenches, into the future.
“Me, Sandler, Spade, and Farley—we shared an office at Saturday Night Live,” Rock remembered. “We called it a dorm. We’re friends to this day. I love those guys.”
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