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5 things we learned about Chris Farley in the new documentary about his life and death

From left, Chris Farley, Chris Rock and Christian Slater. (Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images) (New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Chris Farley, the beloved “Saturday Night Live” cast member, died at the same age as his idol, John Belushi: 33.

A&E’s new “Biography” documentary about Chris Farley, which premiered Monday, explores the life of the charismatic comedian. In it, friends and family members cover the familiar material about Farley’s struggle with addiction, as well as his lifelong worship of fellow SNL comic Belushi. They also describe Farley as a comedic force who had always been uproariously funny, even as an improv amateur.

“Chris Farley — Anything for a Laugh” revealed a few other tidbits about the Wisconsin-born and bred performer. Here are five:

The one person Farley wanted to laugh

Farley was incredibly close with his father. They had “an intense relationship,” said one of Farley’s brothers. “Dad had a lot of influence on Chris. Like anytime you see him doing a character, it’s a version of my dad.”

“And he used to always say, the only person I’m trying to make laugh is dad at home,” he added.

Adam Sandler pays tribute to Chris Farley on ‘Saturday Night Live’

His Marquette University days

Farley, who played rugby and took acting classes at college, lived in a student house during his time at Marquette University in Wisconsin. The students who live there now claim the place is haunted; during a visit from Farley’s former classmate Pat Finn, the residents said they had ghost stories.

“While we watched Chris Farley videos of him on SNL, or ‘Tommy Boy,’ the beds have shaken,” one student reported. “His spirit is still here.”

During their senior year, Finn said Farley insisted that “we gotta focus up. We gotta start writing comedy.” The first night they tried, Farley wrote down “airplane food,” and the pair went silent for one minute. “Comedy is hard,” Farley then remarked.

The making of “Tommy Boy”

The movie that turned into a cult classic was originally called “Billy the Third: A Midwestern.” But because “Billy Madison” had just come out, they had to change the title. Lorne Michaels came up with “Tommy Boy.”

“At first, everyone hated it, didn’t understand it,” director Peter Segal said.

The movie showcased the real-life dynamic between David Spade and Farley. “Lorne said, ‘You guys are funny around the office, try to make a movie out of that,’ " Spade said. Spontaneous jokes between the two wound up in the script.

One day, the two co-stars were in wardrobe. “Chris comes out in that iconic tweed suit jacket, and he said, ‘David does this suit make me look fat?’” Segal recalled, to which Spade replied, “No, but your face does.”

They ended up shooting “Tommy Boy” while Farley and Spade were actively appearing on SNL. Although the shoot was grueling, Farley was clean and sober throughout the process. “I think when we left, the old demons started coming back,” the director said.

He was a great dancer

While Farley’s physical comedy often lent itself well to bits involving him throwing his body onto a collapsing table, the comedian had grace. His dancing ability was on full display in one iconic SNL sketch. Before performing in the “Chippendale’s Audition,” he called up Charna Halpern, ImprovOlympic co-founder, telling her he was scared.

“Well, they’re making fun of the fat boy,” he told her, according to Halpern. “And I said, ‘Chris, you are light on your feet, you’re a fantastic dancer. Just be the best you can be.’ ”

In the sketch, Farley seductively moved next to the muscular Patrick Swayze. But the sketch worked because Farley could actually dance, several of his comedic friends noted in the A&E documentary. He had some training, too; Farley took ballet classes in college.

He performed charitable acts frequently

Farley’s Second City improv friends said he’d always refuse payment for charitable shows organized by the theater, instead insisting his cut go back to the charity. Farley was a devout Catholic, who regularly attended Mass (although during his college days, it’d often be in the evenings “because Sunday mornings got a little tough sometimes,” Finn said).

His churchgoing continued during his SNL days, and while living in New York City, he’d visit nursing homes and volunteer at soup kitchens. Al Franken, who wrote for SNL while Farley was a cast member, told a particularly emotional story about a boy, very sick in a pediatric ward, whose favorite SNL member was Farley. Franken arranged a visit, and Farley then decided to visit the rest of the children there. After a day of making the kids laugh, Franken and Farley got onto the elevator and cried.

But few knew of his volunteerism during his lifetime, including his brothers (one said he did not know about it until much later).