The Untold Stories Of When Paul McCartney Guested On 'SNL' And Deadlifted Chris Farley
One perk of working on Saturday Night Live that you won’t find in the New Employee Welcome Packet is that, occasionally, you get to meet a Beatle.
And perhaps no cast member was more stoked to meet Paul McCartney than Chris Farley. Farley told high school friend Jim Roach about writing sketches in a room with Adam Sandler when McCartney popped his head in the door, guitar in hand, and asked if they wanted to hear any songs. Gobsmacked, Farley could only manage, “Blackbird.” And Sir Paul obliged.
Another high school pal, lifelong Beatles fan Todd Green, actually got a call from Farley that afternoon. Green protested that he was at work, but Farley insisted that Green guess what he was doing. Then Chris held up the phone:
“I could hear Paul McCartney singing Yesterday,” remembers Green.
Tom Farley, Chris’s brother and author of fine biography, The Chris Farley Show, told Cracked that he also got a chance to hear McCartney rehearse. He had friends in New York for a bachelor party that Saturday, and after an early afternoon of pre-party festivities, Tom brought his intoxicated buddies over to 8H to see Chris, who was always generous about showing friends around the studio.
Chris brought the informal tour past a closed door with music coming from behind it -- Hey Jude. Tom and his buddies insisted on listening, and soon enough, “a frickin’ Beatle walks out.” Chris introduced Paul to the gang, and an inebriated Tom decided to poke at the legend. “Hey, Jagger was on last week. You’ve got some big shoes to fill!”
McCartney jokingly acknowledged that Jagger had been dogging him his whole life, but Tom wasn’t through with him. “Hey, this is SNL, man! This show could really make your career!” When Tom’s party buddy told McCartney to consider some Grecian Formula for his graying hair, Chris made like a high school nun and pulled away Tom and friends by the collective ear before they could do any more damage. Chris Farley, the voice of reason?
As for the show, what most people remember about that particular episode was McCartney’s participation in another edition of the popular sketch ‘The Chris Farley Show.’ “Actually,” remembers Lorne, “I think Chris was the one who was adamant about doing it with McCartney.”
Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham argued against it, figuring the bit with Chris as an overeager fanboy was already exhausted. But “I was so glad that we hadn’t persuaded people not to do it,” he says. “It’s so often the case that you write something you’re not that excited about and then the performer brings something to it and you think, my God, I’m glad I was at work that day.”
Host Alec Baldwin remembers sobbing with laughter. “How hard is it to make Beatlemania funny again?” he says. “We couldn’t believe how perfect it was.”
As always, ‘The Chris Farley Show’ sketch was a pure reflection of Chris in real life. When he first met frequent SNL host John Goodman, Chris “kept staring at me, just like that character did. I don’t know why, but he seemed genuinely thrilled to meet me,” Goodman recalls. “It wasn’t a celebrity type of thing, either; it was just that he couldn’t get enough of other people, of their stories.”
The best moment in the sketch is when Chris asks McCartney if he remembers being in the Beatles and making Abbey Road. (Paul remembered.) Then Chris asks if the song lyrics are true -- that if in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make? Paul confirms that indeed, in life, the more you give, the more you get. To which Chris responds with an overjoyed “Awesome!”
“And in that moment Chris isn’t acting at all,” says Maxtone-Graham. “What you see in that sketch is the actual Chris Farley being happy that the actual Paul McCartney is telling him that there is an infinite amount of love in the world, and that someday that love will come back to him.”
Farley’s high school buddy Todd Green was in Chris’s dressing room for the live show. Near the end, Farley grabbed him and introduced his friend to Paul and Linda backstage, sending Green into “a state of shock.” Chris even brought Todd to the edge of the stage to hear Paul and Linda sing “Hey Jude.”
“And at that moment, Chris wasn’t a member of the show anymore. It was just two buddies from Wisconsin who grew up on the Beatles, listening to Paul McCartney,” remembers Green. “Chris literally forgot that he had to go back onstage for the good-nights.”
About those good nights. McCartney had one other surprise in store for Farley, Roach told Cracked. Improbably, the mop-topped musician boasted that he was going to lift Farley off the ground at the end of the show.
The comic protested -- Paul was in his 50s and picking up a man the size of Chris Farley was probably not on his personal trainer’s recommended workout routine. But McCartney followed through on his promise.
If you’ve ever wondered who the strongest Beatle was? Now you’ve got your answer.
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Top image: Broadway Video