In “Chippendales Audition,” Kevin Nealon’s judge breaks the news to Barney that, while his dance moves are better than Adrian’s, he hasn’t made the cut at Chippendales because his physique is “flat and flabby.” Barney loses the audition, the spotlight shifts to Adrian’s winning voiceover thoughts, and that’s that. This made “Chippendales Audition” fall flat for Farley’s “SNL” castmate Chris Rock, who was no more enamored of the sketch than Bob Odenkirk was. In “The Chris Farley Show,” Rock says:
“I always hated [that sketch]. The joke of it is basically, ‘We can’t hire you because you’re fat.’ I mean, he’s a fat guy, and you’re going to ask him to dance with no shirt on. OK. That’s enough. You’re gonna get that laugh. But when he stops dancing you have to turn it in his favor. There’s no turn there. There’s no comic twist to it. It’s just f****** mean.”
“Chippendales Audition” has its defenders, such as “SNL” writer and producer Robert Smigel, who pointed out on “The Howard Stern Show” that the sketch showed off Farley’s “nimble” athleticism as a physical comedian. Farley comes out on stage in a bowtie, shakes his derriere, rips off his sleeveless shirt, and proceeds to do a flawless rendition of “the worm,” falling into it from a standing position and then jumping right back up.
That said, the sketch could be read as punching down toward someone who’s overweight. In the 2015 documentary “I Am Chris Farley,” comedian Tom Arnold recalled Farley himself calling him up and saying, “They want me to do a sketch where I’m stripping for Chippendales with Patrick Swayze, and they want me to take my shirt off. And then I’m the fat guy. What do you think? It’s just embarrassing.”
No matter where you stand on the famous sketch, you can’t deny it helped put Chris Farley on the map and helped turn him into a comedy legend. Sadly, we lost Chris Farley far too soon, and his career and life were cut short before he could blossom even more, but his legacy lives on.