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Zach Galifianakis - Biography

By

Zach Galifianakis
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Born:

October 1, 1969

Zach Galifianakis Overview:

Comedian, writer and actor Zach Galifianakis is probably best known for his full, bushy beard, but to place the focus entirely on his abundant facial hair would be to miss one of the sharpest, oddest comedic minds working today. Galifianakis is a master of the absurd, creating characters and conceptual bits in the place of traditional joke-telling. An accomplished pianist, he often incorporates music into his act -- sometimes even bringing full choirs out near the end of a performance. What may seem "odd" to the uninitiated audience is actually inventive, daring and often brilliant comedy.

Quick Zach Galifianakis Facts:

  • Zach Galifianakis was born and raised in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
  • He performed his first stand-up gig in the back of a New York hamburger restaurant.
  • He got his start in show business in 1996 as a recurring actor on the NBC sitcom Boston Common, starring comedian Anthony Clark.
  • Galifianakis was an original member of The Comedians of Comedy, a stand-up tour that inspired a documentary and reality TV series.
  • He released his own stand-up DVD, Live at the Purple Onion, in 2007.

Early Life:

Zach Galifianakis was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina in 1969. Though he grew up putting on performances for his family, he didn't necessarily have aspirations of comedy. He attended North Carolina State University, but failed his last course by one point and did not graduate. That's when, in 1992, Galifianakis moved to New York City to pursue acting.

Zach Galifianakis the Actor:

Once in New York, Galifianakis became interested in stand-up comedy. He performed his first stand-up set in the back room of New York's Hamburger Harry's, quickly developing an act that he would continue to work on as he took a series of odd jobs.

In 1996, Galifianakis got his first show business break when he was cast in a recurring role on the short-lived NBC sitcom Boston Common, starring stand-up comedian Anthony Clark. The show was a mess, but it led to other acting opportunities for Galifianakis, including the films Out Cold (2001), Below (2002) and Into the Wild (2007).

More Projects for Zach Galifianakis:

In 2001, Galifianakis got his own Comedy Central Presents stand-up special, on which he performed his usual offbeat stand-up and played several songs on the piano.

Galifianakis became the host of his own VH1 talk show, Late World with Zach, in 2002. The show lasted nine weeks.

The comedian was cast in a recurring role on the FOX drama Tru Calling from 2003 to 2005. Galifianakis has been very vocal about his dislike for that show.

The Comedians of Comedy:

In 2004, comedian Patton Oswalt organized a few of his friends and fellow comics together for the Comedians of Comedy tour, a showcase of some of the best in alternative comedy. Galifianakis was part of that tour, along with Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford. The tour was turned into a documentary/tour film, called The Comedians of Comedy, in 2005. A short-lived reality series followed on Comedy Central.

In 2008, Galifianakis joined his fellow Comedians of Comedy for their last-ever show in San Diego.

Live at the Purple Onion:

In 2007, Galifianakis released his first stand-up DVD, called Live at the Purple Onion. Recorded in San Francisco in 2005, it showcased the comedian's dry, absurd humor and once again featured several songs on the piano. Like his Comedy Central Presents special, Purple Onion also culminated in a performance by a choir while Galifianakis did jokes.

Zach Galifianakis Breaks Out:

Galifianakis has a recurring show on the Funny or Die website, called "Between two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis." A parody of celebrity interview shows, it features the comedian asking stars (including Jon Hamm, Bradley Cooper and Jimmy Kimmel) a series of bizarre and sometimes inappropriate questions.

In 2009, Galifianakis had his breakout film role in the summer comedy The Hangover. He also starred in the sequel, 2011's The Hangover Part II.

The same year, he took a supporting role opposite Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson on the HBO comedy series Bored to Death.

Additional Zach Galifianakis Facts:

  • Galifianakis has one home in California and another in North Carolina, a 60-acre farm he calls his "writer's retreat."
  • He has made appearances on a number of comedy shows, including Reno 911!, The Sarah Silverman Program, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Tom Goes to the Mayor and was a cast member on Comedy Central's short-lived news/pranks show Dog Bites Man.

If You Like Zach Galifianakis, Check Out

Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Maria Bamford

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