I lived in Milwaukee for ten years. I attended Marquette University and, after graduation, began my professional radio & TV career in Milwaukee. I loved getting together with friends and taking that 90 minute drive to Madison. That city was hip, liberal and avant-garde compared to Milwaukee. It had a more youthful vibe. It took me a while to get used to Milwaukee, especially during my early college years. And not just because I was a Los Angeles kid who'd never been in snow, much less the Midwest. Milwaukee was very racially polarized and Marquette was smack dab in the middle of that polarization. I'm Catholic and grew up in L.A. I was used to different races, religions, sexual preferences. Marquette was very Catholic. That meant repression, restrictions, sexual frustration and a lot of closet cases. It wasn't like a campus in Madison. It was rather conservative in the 1970s. There wasn't supposed to be pre-marital sex nor was there to be any gay sex whatsoever. Students must've been awed by Farley's energy. It must have like having a live version of Animal House on campus. But, at the same time, he must've felt limited. I talked to one of my favorite Marquette theater department professors after Farley's death. He said that Chris' powerful talent was evident then. It was terrific to see. But he also told me that one time, when Chris was in the wings during a stage show he was in, he was so full o' beer that he wet his pants.
Was Farley's talent appreciated and nurtured by faculty at Marquette? Was he taking courses that he wanted to take? Was he happy? Did he graduate and then study at Chicago's Second City where he became an audience favorite? Or did he drop out? Did he have any Marquette romance? Or was he lonely and fellow students just wanted the big, chubby funny guy to drink more beer and make them laugh? If I was the director/producer of that documentary, I would've delved more into the Milwaukee years. I would've contacted Marquette folks for interviews. He was a top comedy star of TV and films and there's not one comment from a teacher or girlfriend from his college alma mater. Why? One friend mentioned that Farley remained a traditional Catholic in some ways. I would have asked Farley's priest friend, Fr. Matt Foley, if Farley's addictions filled him with Catholic guilt.
I Am Chris Farley is often touching. Some of the comments about him break your heart. But it doesn't dig deep like the Nine Simone documentary on Netflix does (What Happened, Miss Simone?) That one gave us answers. This documentary didn't ask some probing questions where it should have. What Happened, Miss Simone? is an excellent documentary. This one is ok, but it could've been a lot better.
I Am Chris Farley is now available on VOD.