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After earning a loyal following playing an assortment of oddball characters like "Conspiracy Guy" and "The Guy Under the Seats" on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993), comedic actor Chris Elliott developed a reputation for playing obnoxiously smug characters in a variety of film and television roles. Elliott achieved particular notoriety for his surreal sitcom "Get a Life" (Fox, 1990-92), on which he played a clueless man-child living with his parents while still earning a living delivering newspapers. Because of the shows out-there humor, which featured Elliott's character dying on numerous occasions, the show was cancelled, but not before it gained cult status. He moved on to a wide variety of supporting roles, most notably playing the cynical camera operator in the Bill Murray comedy vehicle "Groundhog Day" (1993), before getting his first leading role in the much-maligned "Cabin Boy" (1994). Following a disastrous one-season run on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in the mid-1990s, Elliott had supporting roles in "There's Something About Mary" (1998), "Snow Day" (2000) and "The Klumps" (2001), while landing recurring parts on popular series like "According to Jim" (ABC,...
After earning a loyal following playing an assortment of oddball characters like "Conspiracy Guy" and "The Guy Under the Seats" on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993), comedic actor Chris Elliott developed a reputation for playing obnoxiously smug characters in a variety of film and television roles. Elliott achieved particular notoriety for his surreal sitcom "Get a Life" (Fox, 1990-92), on which he played a clueless man-child living with his parents while still earning a living delivering newspapers. Because of the shows out-there humor, which featured Elliott's character dying on numerous occasions, the show was cancelled, but not before it gained cult status. He moved on to a wide variety of supporting roles, most notably playing the cynical camera operator in the Bill Murray comedy vehicle "Groundhog Day" (1993), before getting his first leading role in the much-maligned "Cabin Boy" (1994). Following a disastrous one-season run on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in the mid-1990s, Elliott had supporting roles in "There's Something About Mary" (1998), "Snow Day" (2000) and "The Klumps" (2001), while landing recurring parts on popular series like "According to Jim" (ABC, 2001-09) and "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005). Elliott returned to leading role status with the violent action-drama spoof "Eagleheart" (Cartoon Network, 2011- ), which delighted a loyal fan base eager to consume more of his bizarre sense of humor.
Born on May 31, 1960 in New York City, Elliott was the son of venerable humorist and performer Bob Elliott, one half of the celebrated whimsical duo Bob and Ray, and Lee Elliott, his father's second wife. Elliott got his start as an NBC tour guide at the RCA building in New York City, where the quick-witted youth managed to impress late night host David Letterman. A few years later, Elliott was working as a gofer for "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993) and worked his way up to auditioning animals for the "Stupid Pet Tricks" portion of the show. He eventually established a rapport with Letterman and became a writer in 1985, gleefully writing himself into as many sketches as he could. Elliott soon became a regular in numerous sketches, usually playing smarmy eccentrics and borderline psychics - most notably The Fugitive Guy and The Guy Under the Seats - while also offering baroque impersonations ranging from Marlon Brando to Morton Downey, Jr. Elliott earned a following by playing against his average guy looks, going on to frequently portray characters ranging from the oddly creepy to flat-out maniacal to the unbearably obnoxious - all to great comic effect.
Not relegating himself to late night television, Elliott began making appearances on the big screen, which were always greeted with hearty laughter by his numerous fans, a disconcerting fact for directors like Michael Mann and James Cameron who had more serious aims. He made his feature debut in an autopsy scene for Mann's psychological thriller "Manhunter" (1986), which he soon followed with his first small screen dramatic guest spot on "The Equalizer" (CBS, 1985-89). He went on to pen and star in two comedy specials, "Action Family" (Cinemax, 1987) and "Chris Elliott's FDR - A One-Man Show" (Cinemax, 1987), before appearing in Francis Ford Coppola's segment of "New York Stories" and James Cameron's undersea thriller "The Abyss" (1989). Elliott gained a small but devoted following as the creator, producer, writer and star of "Get a Life" (Fox, 1990-92), a groundbreaking and often wildly funny sitcom in which he played a perpetually stupid 30-year-old paper boy living at home with his put-upon parents (Elinor Donahue and real-life father Bob Elliott). Both surreal and unconventional, the show - which on several occasions featured Elliott actually dying - was cancelled by the network, which, despite its loyal audience, found the show too disturbing for primetime. Still, the show earned a large number of fans and remained one of the creative highpoints of Elliott's career.
Elliott's feature career resumed with substantial supporting roles in the hip-hop spoof "CB4" (1993) and the acclaimed Bill Murray vehicle, "Groundhog Day" (1993), playing a snide and cynical cameraman to Murray's pompous weatherman, who becomes doomed to living the same day over and over until he learns humanity and compassion. He finally became a feature lead while also writing the script for "Cabin Boy" (1994), an amiably stupid, albeit mean-spirited comedy co-produced by Tim Burton and featuring old friend David Letterman in a cameo. While certainly no Oscar contender, "Cabin Boy" became a punch line among detractors and critics, though his fans helped the movie achieve cult status. Elliott followed up the disappointment with an equally lackluster stint on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). As a member of cast in the wayward 1994-95 season - which featured Janeane Garofalo and marked the exits of old favorites like Adam Sandler, Chris Farley and David Spade - Elliott was given few onscreen opportunities and had even fewer laughs in a format that simply failed to foster his unique comedic talents.
He fared better with series guest work, including stints on the sitcoms "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1988-1998), "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ), "Wings" (NBC, 1990-97) and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC/The WB, 1996-2003). In 1997 he joined the cast of the troubled Téa Leoni sitcom "The Naked Truth" (ABC/NBC, 1995-98) as an eccentric photographer for a sleazy tabloid and failed to make much of a mark on this series which, by his own accounts, was a rather unpleasant experience. Elliott returned to form with a supporting role in the Farrelly Brothers' comedy hit "There's Something About Mary" (1998), playing Ben Stiller's terribly creepy friend Dom, a man with a nervous skin condition that leaves him with a rash whenever he is around Cameron Diaz. Turning to animated television, Elliott lent his voice to power-crazed Dogbert on UPN's animated series "Dilbert" (UPN, 1999-2000) while earning greater exposure as the unlikely pitchman for Tostitos chips. Before embarking on his next role as the doctor pal of Steven Weber on the short lived sitcom "The Weber Show/Cursed" (NBC, 2000-01), Elliott took a co-starring role as a lunatic snow plow operator in the family comedy "Snow Day" (2000), while appearing as a restaurant manager in the hit Eddie Murphy comedy, "The Klumps" (2001).
After playing the malformed caretaker of Hell House in the comedy sequel "Scary Movie 2" (2001), Elliott reunited with the Farrelly Brothers for the part-animated, part-live action comedy "Osmosis Jones" (2001), starring Bill Murray. Taking a break from film, Elliott became a regular guest star on several popular series, including "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007), "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04), "King of the Hill" (Fox, 1997-2010) and "Still Standing" (CBS, 2002-06) while also playing the recurring role of Reverend Gaylord Pierson on "According to Jim" (ABC, 2001-09). Elliott landed a memorable recurring stint as an oddball comic book fan on the hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005), which he started in 2003 and played through till the series finale in 2005. Following a return to the horror-spoof franchise for "Scary Movie 4" (2006), he made a rare foray into dramatic territory with an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (CBS, 1999- ). Back to comedy, he had small roles in "I'll Believe in You" (2007), the musical spook "Dance Flick" (2008) and "Speed-Dating" (2010), before returning to regular series programming with "Eagleheart" (Cartoon Network, 2011- ), a parody-comedy co-produced with Conan O'Brien's Conaco production company in which he played a Texas Marshal who has his own unique way of dispensing justice - usually with over-the-top violence.
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"I'm on that level of fame where if I disappeared off the face of the earth, there wouldn't be much talk on 'Entertainment Tonight' about it. And that's probably the level of fame where I will most likely spend the rest of my life." --Chris Elliott to Us, August 21, 1989.
"My comedy has always been stupid and goofy, and that's always been the intent behind it. You're talking comedy, so stupid to me evokes a funny image. It's not negative." --Elliott quoted in Daily News, January 6, 1994.
"Dave would see us doing something at the coffee machine, and it would end up on The Show, I used to go out on the remotes and stand there saying stupid things to him. I was his little amusement boy." --Elliot on his early days with David Letterman, from Village Voice, February 1, 1994.
Chris Elliott on his "Late Night with David Letterman" appearances: "It was all about ego. He was this staff member who thought he was due a career and forced himself on the show to get it. And the weird thing is that ultimately, that's exactly what happened to me. Somehow, just by continually pestering the general public by appearing on television, they accepted me and wanted more. And then, of course, I had to give them something else, and they were like, 'Ugh, enough!'" --quoted to Time Out New York, July 9-16, 1998.
Elliott on Dom, his dermatologically-challenged character in "There's Something About Mary": "I actually thought of the [hives] makeup. I wanted something bizarre, and also, it hides the fact that I'm not a very good actor." --quoted in Us, January 1999.
Answering a query from Entertainment Weekly (February 5, 1999) if he was upset when James Cameron (who directed Elliott in "The Abyss") cast Leonaro DiCaprio in "Titanic": "No, I wasn't, because I gave James Cameron the idea for 'Titanic'. When I did 'The Abyss', I said to him 'What would be good would be to do a comedy on the high seas.' He went and did 'Titanic', I did 'Cabin Boy'."
On the showbiz legacy of his father, comedian Bob Elliott: "He wasn't exactly anti-show business, but he made a conscious decision not to move to the West Coast, not to get into movies and television.
"I think I inherited a kind of embarrassment with the whole idea of show business. Part of my act has always been not to take it too seriously." --quoted in the New York Post, February 7, 2000.
Salon scribe Connell Barrett on Elliott versus perceived comis genius Andy Kaufman: "While Kaufman has been resurrected in film, books and 12,000 magazines as a mad comedic savant, Elliott--he of 'Late Night with David Letterman" and "Get a Life" fame--is, well, the voice of Dogbert, an ignominious fate for a performer who is every bit as innovative, bold and bafflingly odd. And funnier . . . Like his comedic forefather, Elliott eschewed jokes in favor of joking around. He walked (nay, banana-danced upon) the line between comedy and performance art. And long before they recorded "Man on the Moon", R.E.M.'s "Stand" stood as the theme to "Get a Life!" Elliott must be a genius; Michael Stipe says so." --from the article "The Other Man on the Moon", February 8, 2000.
Elliott on his on screen alter ego: "Anything I do, it's always Chris Elliott. He may be called different things but it's always the same guy.
"It's really just a matter of finding a palatable way to present that character to the public." -- to Daily News, February 9, 2000.
"I'm a guy who has kind of cut my own niche in this business. It's never just 'let's get somebody funny for this part' or 'who is available?' When people want me for a part, they are looking for me--which is nice. It might not happen that often, but I know when it does they really want me." --Elliott quoted in USA Today, February 10, 2000.
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