- "I am 35 years old, I am thrice divorced, and I live in a van down by the river!"
- — Matt Foley's catchprase
Matthew "Matt" Foley is a fictional motivational speaker. Matt is iconic character from Saturday Night Live, performed by Chris Farley. The character was created by Bob Odenkirk for the Second City theater troupe, although the idea for Farley to fall on the coffee table was added by Robert Smigel for SNL.
Essentially, Foley was the very antithesis of a good motivational speaker: abrasive, loud, clumsy, and down on his luck. Farley named the character after one of his Marquette University rugby union teammates of the same name who is currently in the US Army as a Roman Catholic Chaplain. A film version of the character with David Spade in a supporting role was planned in the last months of Farley's life.
Foley appeared in eight Saturday Night Live sketches. Each sketch usually started with Foley being brought into a specific situation by someone to speak to a group. In addition to appearing disheveled, overweight, and unstylish, he would yell, disparage, display cynicism, and give a clearly negative motivational message. Foley's trademark line was warning his audience that, like him, they could end up being "35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!" When members of his audience claimed any kind of accomplishment, he would respond with a sarcastic "Well, la-dee-freakin-da!" or a similar remark. The sketches would often include Foley giving wildly exaggerated gestures and falling (or jumping) onto a piece of furniture, destroying it or injuring himself in the process. This practice started during the character's first appearance on SNL, when, at writer Robert Smigel's suggestion, Farley landed on a break-away table and demolished it in the process. David Spade and Christina Applegate, who were playing the teens supposedly in need of Foley's help, had to cover their own laughter. Spade in particular spent most of the sketch with his hand over his mouth.
At the end of each sketch, he would usually be quickly herded out of his speaking location, where the people left behind would huddle together and comment on him, usually bemused and fearful. Though his speeches always backfired, the end results would usually be successful, in that the recipients did not want to be associated with Foley.
Portrayal Outside of SNL
Farley portrayed the Matt Foley character at the 1994 Rose Bowl, delivering a comedic "motivational speech" to the Wisconsin Badgers football team. (Farley was a Madison, Wisconsin native.) His speech apparently worked: Wisconsin defeated UCLA 21-16.
Dates of Appearance
- May 8, 1993 (Host Christina Applegate) Season 18, Episode 19
- October 30, 1993 (Host Christian Slater)
- December 11, 1993 (Host Sally Field)
- February 19, 1994 (Host Martin Lawrence)
- May 14, 1994 (Host Heather Locklear)
- December 17, 1994 (Host George Foreman)
- April 15, 1995 (Host Courteney Cox)
- October 25, 1997 (Host Chris Farley)
- Foley (Introduction): Now let's get started by giving you a little bit of a scenario of what my life is all about. First off, I am 35 years old, I am thrice divorced, and I live in a van down by the river!
- Foley (Repeated Line): I live in a van down by the river!
- Foley (Repeated Line): Well, la-dee-freakin'-da!
- Foley: I don't know? Well, that and a nickel will get you a nice hot cup of jack-squat!
- Foley: You kids are probably saying to yourself, "Now, I'm gonna go out, and I'm gonna get the world by the tail and wrap it around pull it down and put it in my pocket!" Well, I'm here to tell you that you're probably gonna find out, as you go out there, that you're not gonna amount to JACK SQUAT!" You're gonna end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river!
- Foley: You'll have plenty of time to live in a van down by the river when (pauses to think) you're livin' in a van down by the river!
- Foley: Now you kids are probably asking yourselves, (He begins to furiously pump his arms) 'Hey Matt, how can we get back on the right track‽'
- Foley (on a bicycle): All right, all right, all right, I'll pedal! Let's all pedal everybody, make Evan happy! Here we go, pedaling away! All right everybody, you're on the road! Look over to the right; it's your first wife, Linda! High tail it out of there because you owe her three years' child support! Keep pedaling. All right, let's pull into Seven-Eleven and buy a microwave burrito! Okay, we're back on the road, there's your son's dorm! Let's sneak in, steal his student loan check, cash it, and head out lookin' for Asian hookers! Cause if there's one thing Matt likes, it's Hong Kong] fuey, ha-ha! Ohhhh yeah!
- Foley: Once, there was a boy who liked to throw things. He started out throwing eggs. Then, he threw the big game. Then, he threw back a shot of whiskey. Then he threw up. Then he got thrown out of the house, and then he moved into a van down by the river!
- David Spade's Character: Matt, we were just havin' some fun.
Foley: So you had fun. How do you think the eggs felt? Hey, let's find out! I'll be you, and you be the eggs. Huh, how does that sound? (picks up Son #1) Hey look at this! I'm gonna throw some eggs around! Look at me go! (Falls backwards onto the table.)
Jay Mohr's Character: Señor Foley, where'd you study Spanish, Taco Bell? Foley: Muy cómico. ¡Dios freakin' mío!
- Venezuelan Father: Señor Foley, if it is any help to you, both of my children speak excellent English.
Foley: Dad, kindly shut your damn flanhole!
- Foley: ¡Viva de Nueva York, es Sábado Noche! (Translation: Alive from New York, it's Saturday Night!)
- Foley:"'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the van
Your ol' buddy Matt fell asleep on the can.
The children were nestled two time zones away
With his first wife and her husband in sunny L.A.
Matt woke up and realized, with a chill and a quiver,
That he was livin' in a van down by the river!"
- Foley: "You're gonna be doin' a lot of doobie rollin' when you're living in a van down by the river!"
- Chris Farley and David Spade made plans to make a movie base off of this character. Sadly Farley had died before they can start doing a movie.
- Farley reveal in interviews that he had base the character off of his own father.
- When Matt returns to talk to the kids after they throw eggs at houses on Halloween he says, "I am the eggman. Koo Koo Ca Choo." This is a reference to The Beatles song "I Am The Eggman" from their album "Magical Mystery Tour".