David Spade Justifies His Creepy Chris Farley DirecTV Ad

It was never in question whether David Spade or Chris Farley’s family approved of this disturbing, Tommy Boy-based DirecTV ad, but just to put a fine point on things, Spade has come out to defend his choice in making the ill-advised tribute to his departed pal.

Speaking to Asylum, Spade says:

“When DIRECT TV came to me and the Farley family with this idea about ‘Tommy Boy,’ we talked and thought it would be a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was. It is a clever homage to my friend and a movie that we loved doing, ” he says.

The article also quotes a DirecTV spokesman who said Farley’s family signed off on the commercial. There’s no better way to pay tribute to a departed loved one like exploiting his image and bastardizing one of his great moments to turn a cheap buck, right?

Chris Farley Direct TV Ad: Too Soon? David Spade Responds [Asylum]


Edit Your Comment

  1. deejmer says:

    Tasteless? Maybe….But if all parties consented to use his likeness, why should anyone else care? I don’t get the big deal on this one…

  2. Jon Mason says:

    Oh come on, its not like Tommy Boy is Citizen Kane or The Godfather – its a funny, dumb comedy that was made to make “a cheap buck”.

  3. chrisexv6 says:

    Saw this commercial for the first time while at a Halloween party last weekend. The fact that everyone at the party was singing “fat guy in a little coat” for the rest of the night should show it achieved its goal: a reminder of how funny Chris Farley was.

    A little freaky that DirecTV “brought him back”, but “exploiting” and “bastardizing”? Not so sure.

    • gerrylum says:

      @chrisexv6: I agree, I didn’t find the ad disturbing at all. I don’t understand why we can’t still laugh at him now that he’s dead? I’m sure that’s not what he would have wanted.

      • Darascon says:

        @gerrylum: Exactly. What, do we have to digitally edit him out and replace him with walkie talkies now?

        Can we no longer watch movies with NYC as the backdrop prior to 2001 b/c the towers are in the film? Do we need to go back and edit out the skyline?

        What about that Pepsi commercial showing the similarities of the generations? is that not acceptable? Or is that one allowed because all of the deceased in that spot are more than 22.3 years gone?

        There is no reason for the sensitivity level of this issue to be what it is. He was a funny actor. Lets remember him that way.

        • VeeKaChu says:

          @Darascon: Yes, he was funny, and I agree with all of the above regarding sensitivity-concern-trolling. But I do find it a bit tastelessly ironic the way Spade smirks over the “never gets old” line that concludes the spot.

    • lmarconi says:

      @chrisexv6: Personally, this is a story because someone at Consumerist finds it tasteless and not necessarily because the world finds it tasteless.

      I mean, go after Brooke Shields and Latisse if you really want to see a bunch of celebrities whoring out for a buck.

      • oblivious87 says:

        @lmarconi: I totally agree… Phil has decided that he hates the commercial and has now taken advantage of the consumerist to editorialize.

        But you know what, they are using the Tommy Boy DVD cover on this post… which has Chris Farley on it… so in the end, he’s just as evil as the people he thinks are tasteless since they used Chris Farley to bring readers to their site!

      • calquist says:

        @lmarconi: It is also currently on CNN.com too.

      • cowboyesfan says:


        Brooke Shields and Latisse died?

  4. bornonbord says:

    If he was being truly sincere when he said that, I can understand.

    This ad was disturbing to me, and I’m glad to see that some digging has been done to get David Spade’s feelings on it.

    I just hope he wasn’t saying that to improve his image and that his real reason was the $$$. I’ll take his word for now.

    • jadeoracle says:


      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one weirded out about this commercial.

    • redskull says:

      @bornonbord: If something as insignificant as a commercial bothers you, then you must spend a significant portion of your life feeling disturbed.

      • bornonbord says:

        @redskull: Commercials are great! That’s a good portion of how I make my living.

        Exploiting a dead friend? That’s a little disturbing.

        • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

          @bornonbord: his family approved of it. Unless you are part of Chris Farley’s family you really shouldn’t give a rat’s ass.

          • bornonbord says:

            @Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather: This is true. But because it’s in my living room, I do care. And like I said, I do hope he was being sincere…

            • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

              @bornonbord: you can’t change the channel?

            • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

              @bornonbord: and if he wasn’t being sincere how does that impact your life?

              Although I am coming off as an ass I am not trying to be. I am just trying to point out that Chris Farley, David Spade and this commercial have no impact on you so why do you let it bother you? Why do you care if someone is doing it for money or because they miss their friend?

              People are going to do things in life that you may or may not agree with but that is their choice (and they personally owe no explanation to anyone as to why they did it). I don’t knock anyone’s hustle in life, I just never understood why people who have no relation to the subjects get upset or offended.

              • bornonbord says:

                @Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather: Ok, I understand.

                Here’s an example of why:

                I’m white. Based on what you are saying, I shouldn’t find this distasteful. It’s not directly effecting me. Why should I care that this is perpetuating a stereotype?

                The Farley ad in question is perpetuating the idea that it’s OK to use a deceased family member and/or friend to sell a product because “He would have been OK to help family/friends with money”. It’s an homage, a tribute. All parties involved with the exploitation feel like it’s OK.

                If he were in an AIG ad, or Philip Morris ad, or an advertisement for The Admiral, or an advertisement for Barack Obama, would you find this distasteful? Where do we draw the line?

                This is why I feel like the DirectTV ad was not done in good taste.

                I’m glad that David Spade has publicly said that he and the Farley family thought this would be “a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was” because it shows he wasn’t in it exclusively for the money. Trying to promote a friend instead of exploit a friend makes more sense to me. I still question the taste of how he did it, (via hocking a product) and wonder how much he was compensated for it.

                • dorastandpipe says:

                  @bornonbord: I don’t see how this ad you posted is perpetuating a stereotype. What, there are no black waiters in this world that happen to serve a drink to a white man anymore? Give me a break!

  5. Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

    And that should be the end of it. His family signed off on it, David Spade signed off on it, anyone that has an issue with it can go kick rocks.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I actually have never, ever found Chris Farley that funny. On rare occasions, yes, but for the most part, no. That said, I thought Tommy Boy was a hilarious movie and the commercial did indeed remind me of just how funny Chris Farley was in that movie. If that’s what David Spade meant to do by doing the commercial, it achieved its purpose.

    • tbax929 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265:
      Agreed. The only thing I ever found Chris funny in was Tommy Boy. I hated all his other movies, and wasn’t a fan of his during his SNL days, either.

      • mazzic1083 says:

        @tbax929 is rooting for a Phillies repeat: @pecan 3.14159265: Oh come on you guys are killing me! No SNL stuff was funny to you? Or other David Spade combos like Black Sheep? Or Beverly Hills Ninja? Or his little roles like in Waynes World? I always get at least a laugh out of those!

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @mazzic1083: I don’t find him that funny mostly because the subject for much of his humor was his own weight, and all the while he had a devastating substance abuse problem underlying it. I find Mitch Hedberg hilarious, but I’m always just a little sad when I listen or watch his stand up stuff because I know that ultimately, the reason why he was funny had to do with what eventually led to his death.

          • backbroken says:

            @pecan 3.14159265: Not being able to laugh at comedians with underlying substance abuse problems means you probably haven’t laughed at anything in the movies or on TV since, well, since ever actually.

          • mazzic1083 says:

            @pecan 3.14159265: I do hear you on Mitch Hedberg, found his stand up specials on comedy central absolutely hilarious. Not to mention the fact that he seems scared to death up there and does not want to interact with the crowd, it just added so much to his act.

            I still laugh when I hear him talk about blocking a fire exit or needing a receipt for a donut. Granted, it is a little sad that his substance abuse led to his death. But I think substance abuse is treated differently in Hollywood/show business than it is in the real world. I wonder if sometimes Hollywood just glamorizes and promotoes a culture of substance abuse and actors or those involved find it near impossible to resist

            • mazzic1083 says:

              @mazzic1083: Correction: I don’t “wonder” I know hollywood glamorizes and promotes the stuff. It just seems that some actors are able to keep it under control (or not start at all, kudos to them) while others take it to the extreme.

    • leastcmplicated says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Also that scene where they’re in the car and the Carpenters come on, omg i was laughing so hard and everytime I hear that song i think of that scene. Again, didnt creep me out, wasnt disturbing. big effing deal, dead people are used in commercials all the time.

    • mizike says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: A one sentance summary of every Chris Farley role: “AAUGH I’M LOUD AND FAT AND HAVE POOR BALANCE (falls onto a coffee table)”. I never really understood his appeal, but of all the comediens who made a career out of being fat and repeatedly falling over I guess he was one of the best.

  7. metsarethe... says:

    I’m a big fan of the direct tv ads and had no problem with this one. When I first saw it, I thought it was more of a “paying respects” ad than being offensive.

    • parad0x360 says:

      @metsarethe…: Yea thats what I thought, it wasnt done in a way that made it seem like anything other than paying respects.

      Spade has said many times over the years how much he loved Farley and how much he misses him. If the ad truly was in bad taste Spade wouldnt have done it..he isnt hurting for money. Hes actually quite well off.

    • NinjaMarion says:

      @metsarethe…: Paying respects or not, when I first saw it, I thought, “Man, that movie was awesome. Fat guuuuuuy in a little cooooat….*stuck in head for next hour*”
      Certainly seemed like it accomplished what Spade said they wanted to.

  8. Daveinva says:

    Okay… I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one disturbed here.

    Had it been a clip from the movie, no problem. It was the fact that Spade inserted himself into the scene, present day, that immediately jarred you from “Hey, it’s the ‘fat guy in a little coat’ scene!” to “Wow, I can’t believe they really did this, how tacky.”

    Seriously– the commercial started, I started singing the song, laughing… then stopped.

    We have the right to do many things. Including being tacky, tasteless, and embarassing.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Daveinva: That’s the gimmick. All of the DirecTV ads are like this. They’re a take off a scene from the movie in which an actor replaces his character from the movie and talks about DirecTV.

      Have you not seen the other ones? [advertising.about.com]

  9. citking says:

    I met Chris Farley’s brother Tom Jr. at a Madison WI book signing (“The Chris Farley Show”, a great read) at a Barnes and Noble. I find it odd that Tom Jr. would sign off on something like this, especially now that he is interested in running for office as Lieutenant Governor in Wisconsin and would probably prefer to avoid anything that could be considered damaging to his running.

    SNL refuses to broadcast or sell the episode in which a “recovered” Chris Farley hosts. I think that alone shows common decency and respect, something this DirecTV commercial lacks.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      @citking: Money can be immensely helpful in the election process.

      • PsiCop says:

        @Laura Northrup: Ain’t that the truth. Here in CT we got ourselves a whole raft of millionaires all running for Chris Dodd’s seat … including some folks no one ever heard of before, and — of all things — a wrestling moll. Of course, Dodd is himself a millionaire, so I guess it’s a fair fight — for them. Not that the winner, whoever it is, will be fair to us Nutmeggers, though.

  10. SabreDC says:

    I don’t think this is tasteless at all. The man was a hilarious actor and Tommy Boy was a great comedy movie. He died 12 years ago and they are showing clips of a movie that is nearly 15 years old. His family owns the rights to his work and they have the right to license his work however they please.

    Someone compared this to showing a commercial with Heath Ledger as the Joker, who died about two years ago. I can understand that being “too soon”, but 12 years? Come on.

    John Belushi died in 1982. Yet, his likeness (from a scene in Animal House) is still used at sporting events to pump up the crowd. Is that tasteless?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @SabreDC: There was an article in the WSJ the other day about how Bruce Lee’s daughter was setting up a new business venture to promote her late father’s name in China, and to promote his work across the US to boost his fan base. She’s inked marketing deals to use his likeness, made his childhood home into a museum, and no one is saying she’s exploiting his image because she’s his daughter – how does that make the Farley family any different. They’re family.

  11. shamowfski says:

    King Kong is dead. Where is the outrage about that?

  12. RonDiaz says:

    @deejmer: Exactly who cares! This is notabigdeal.

  13. full.tang.halo says:

    I’m sorry but people need to get off the PC no one is a looser, I cant believe they did that, lest not hurt peoples feelings, anyone can be anything, bandwagon.

    The Rams/Titans suck and are losers
    This commercial is funny
    if you don’t like my opinion, don’t listen or change the channel
    No you can’t be anything you want to, you can do everything right and still not make it.

    It’s a tough reality we live in, but it’s the real world.

    • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

      @full.tang.halo: +1 Thank you. People need to spend more time worrying about themselves and their own issues instead of something they “may” find offensive or of bad taste. I miss the 50’s :-(

      • tbax929 says:

        @Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather:
        The good old days weren’t so good for all of us. Remember that.

        • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

          @tbax929 is rooting for a Phillies repeat: I remember sweetheart, I am not talking about the Jim Crow laws, racism, fire hoses or anything to that affect. I am referring to the mentality where people weren’t a bunch of pussies like they are today. You said what you felt and if the other person didn’t like it your response was “too damn bad”. No one cried, no one boycotted, no one claimed their precious feelings were hurt. People kept it moving because they had bigger fish to fry and their own shit to deal with.

  14. Traveshamockery says:

    There’s no better way to pay tribute to a departed loved one like exploiting his image and bastardizing one of his great moments to turn a cheap buck, right?

    Oh calm down! Where’s the article about Michael Jackson’s family releasing “This Is It” in theaters? Where’s the outrage over Billy Mays’ posthumous infomercial appearances? How about the calls to action over his family daring to rake in revenues from DVD sales after Farley’s death?

    There’s nothing wrong with the examples I just mentioend, just like there’s nothing wrong with this commercial. Just because somebody’s dead doesn’t mean they become instantly sacred and any profit is tarnished!

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    So I suppose Spade going to Comedy Central and saying, “Chris Farley was probably the best friend I ever had, and I’d like to volunteer my time for free to get other like-minded comedians to show up, and we’ll host a retrospective of Chris’ work on your fine network” didn’t pan out?
    Yeah, my heart broke a little when I read in the Trades how Spade’s selfless offer to honor his dear friend was shot down in flames. He really pulled out all the stops for that tribute.

    Hey, David: next time, if you staple Farley’s disintegrating corpse to your back, I’ll bet the rate for personal appearances will also get a boost. Try that next?

  16. dpeters11 says:

    Personally I found the one using Heather O’Rourke much creepier. Partly because it was Poltergeist, but also just the fact that she was 12 when she died. But that was also 20 years ago. Dead celebrities are used to sell product all the time. Einstein’s estate made a fortune of Baby Einstein, no one has a problem with Elvis or James Dean merchandising.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @dpeters11: I thought about Heather O’Rourke too, but I really don’t think most people even realized that she died very soon after the films.

      • tbax929 says:

        @pecan 3.14159265:
        I just found out right now that she died. How did I miss that?

        • mazzic1083 says:

          @tbax929 is rooting for a Phillies repeat: Yea there’s some Poltergesit theorists who think it was was because the directors were meddling with ghosts too much and thus cursed her. All hollywood voodoo talk to me but I remember being young when she died and thinking that if I watched the movie I would be cursed. Also, those bastards who made The Ring beat me to a great idea….

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @mazzic1083: It wouldn’t be so weird if it weren’t for the fact that the three Poltergeist movies seem to have an inordinate amount of deaths.


            But in general, the only ones that were actually surprising were that of O’Rourke and Dominique Dunn, who played her sister – she was strangled by her boyfriend.

    • thesadtomato says:

      @dpeters11: Yes! Thank you! I didn’t see if anyone mentioned that DirectTV ad when they posted the first dead Farley story on Consumerist, but I was thinking about Heather O’Rourke when I saw it. Her family approved of the ad because they felt it was a tribute to her fine acting work, etc, etc.

    • oneandone says:

      @dpeters11: Actually, Einstein’s estate is an interesting one. He willed his papers & intellectual property rights to the Hebrew University (which maintains the Einstein Archives), but it’s not clear (to me at least) who benefits from commercial use of his name/likeness.

      Anyone know?

      • dpeters11 says:

        @oneandone: At the bottom of the Baby Einstein legal page – EINSTEIN is a trademark of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

        According to Forbes in 2006, Einstein was the 5th top dead celebrity, at $26 million. But the list is likely dated, Kurt Cobain was #1.

  17. Anathema777 says:

    “There’s no better way to pay tribute to a departed loved one like exploiting his image and bastardizing one of his great moments to turn a cheap buck, right?”

    Personally, I think your assumptions about Chris Farley’s family are more offensive than the ad.

  18. rdclark says:

    When people are in the business of selling their image, then their image becomes an asset, a thing of value — value that persists as long as there is a market for it.

    I’ve never understood the outraged response to the re-use of these assets by the people who now own them.

    Let’s save our outrage for things that actually hurt people.

  19. yzerman says:

    People take things to seriously! My god he has been dead since 1997, that’s 12 years already.

  20. scottboone says:

    When I first saw the commercial, I was a bit uneasy. I loved Chris Farley, and ‘Tommy Boy’ is one of the funniest movies ever. “How tasteless,” I thought.

    But the more I saw it, the more I was OK with it. I love watching ‘Tommy Boy’, I know Farley is dead, but it doesn’t affect me when I’m watching the film. He was/is a great comedian.

    But I think I’ve hit on what about the commercial bothered me the most: Spade gets his say in it, “buy DirecTV.” But Farley doesn’t get his. I’ve often wondered why companies that include dead celebs in their commercials don’t use the opportunity to partner with the families and devote the last 2 seconds of the commercial to showing a website or mentioning a charity that the celeb championed. In this case, they could have done their DirecTV pitch and then said, “Be sure to Check Out the Chris Farley Foundation…’Don’t be That Guy’! http://www.ThatGuy.com

    At least that would have made me FEEL good that Farley’s legacy was being taken into account, and HIS star power from the clip was also working. Right now it requires some google-fu from the viewer and NOTHING from DirecTV.

  21. semanticantics says:

    Remember when Natalie Cole tap danced all over her fathers grave with those duets?

    Overreaction. It’s not quite the same as using Kurt Cobain’s avatar in Guitar Hero 5 to mimmic Flava Flav’s gesticulations.

    If I was a celeb that OD’d and my ghost could see my family and my friend were paying homage to me while my image could get them paid, I’d be all for it.

  22. SouthJerz says:

    This commercial is genious. It is funny as hell. I loved it the first time I saw it. Now, it’s controversial. Oooh, direct tv resurrected some fat, stupid comedian who overdosed… poor him. Nah, he’s dead, and it was his fault, who cares. The commercial is great. Give it up.

  23. SybilDisobedience says:

    @lmarconi: Between Brooke’s eyelashes and her teeth, the girl’s letting everyone in on her toiletry rituals. I changed the channel from a Brooke Latisse ad the other night only to land on a Brooke Crest toothpaste ad. Someone give the woman a real job so she stops shilling in commercials.

  24. mimbypims says:

    I cringed when I saw this ad, too. I think what I find distasteful about it is that the re-dubbed script includes insults. The original jabs are fine in the context of the film, but seem weird when you consider the fact that writers in 2009 had to draft brand-new fat jokes about a dead guy.

    • maddypilar says:

      @mimbypims: I thought the same thing. I was smiling watching “Fat guy in a little coat,” realized it was a Direct TV thing when David Spade addressed the camera, and then cringed when he called Chris Farley “tons of fun.”

  25. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Are any of you who find this spot “creepy” fans of Chris Farley or David Spade? I really want to see the breakdown, because I’m gonna go out on a limb and say those hardcore fans of Farley don’t have one bit of problem.

    Chris Farley wasn’t known for being an arbiter of good taste, but quite honestly that’s what made him so great. It actually seem quite fitting that he’s brought back in a way that people deem “tasteless”. He’s probably doing a fist pump upstairs right about now.

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and I don’t wish to skewer those who dissent with mine, but it’s time to build a bridge and get over this. If it really disturbs you THAT much, I suggest writing a note to his family/estate and letting them know.

  26. PLATTWORX says:

    “Farley’s family signed off on the commercial”


    When this story first appeared hear bashing Spade, my first thought was that Farley’s image is controlled by his family and THEY would be the ones who approved the commerical. Why people were pointing to Spade escaped me.

    The Farley family got paid for the use of Chris’ image and they could not proceed with the idea if Spade did not participate.

    Perhaps some find it in bad taste, but if Chris Farley’s family signed off, step back.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Wait. I thought Chris Farley was David Spade in a fatsuit. You mean they’re two different people?

  28. incident_man says:

    I’d prefer to remember those entertainers who have passed on as who they were and what they did, not what they can do or be now. It’s only decent to let things lie. Just because the family signed off on it doesn’t make it right or ok. It’s time that people stop thinking solely about the monetary aspect of things and how much money they can make off of something.

  29. PTB315 says:

    Why is this a post on The Consumerist? The author made no hesitation to call the ads “creepy” and other negative terms, and accused David Spade and Farley’s family of making a cash grab.

    I dunno, stuff like that kinda makes me shake my head. What is the Consumerist supposed to be? Slamming a commercial that at the most should probably be called “questionable” is a little too much soap box for me. I come to the Consumerist for the features, and to see what companies people are having customer service problems with, not read stuff like this.

  30. Sarcastichobbes says:

    Some of you people need to grow a pair. Seriously. You were disturbed by this? I thought it was fantastic commercial. Tommy Boy is one of my all time favorites.

    I’m also a little biased because Chris was born and raised in my hometown…but still

    Grow a pair

  31. 8ball says:

    Its not creepy.

    Natalie Cole singing with father.
    Fred Astaire dancing with vacuum.