The fat guy in a little coat; the white ninja; the rhythmic Lunch Lady; the black sheep; the overzealous, auditioning Chippendales dancer. Whether boisterously portraying any number of his Saturday Night Live characters or emphatically making others laugh, most often at his own expense, Chris Farley proved one of the most animated and aggressively social comic actors in the business. He was the fattest of the fat, loudest of the loud, sweatiest of the sweaty, drunkest of the drunk.

The Wisconsin boy’s talent ran far deeper than the public ever knew; his comedic prowess never fully captured in either movies or TV as much as it was onstage. He could get laughs just by stepping onstage, never letting his 300-pound, Jabba the Hut-like demeanor abrogate his graceful mastery. His physical comedy so fresh and weird it seems to border on genius. As seen in those five seasons on Saturday Night Live and three No. 1 films, Farley could tap into his cyclonic inner life and discover characters whose exaggerated everyday weaknesses induced a sense of squirming self-recognition.

Despite his Gonzo-like antics that ultimately led to his fatal demise, Farley cast a big shadow with his manic energy and an ability to play sweet-hearted losers. Farley’s undying willingness to make fun of himself, and his ability to earn our sympathy, made him a success in film and television, even if he never earned the respect of critics.