Chris Elliott is an American actor, comedian, and writer who is best known for his work on the TV show ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ In a career spanning more than 35 years, he started off as a standup comedian, then moved to writing, and finally got into acting as well. His unique comedy writing skills helped David Letterman’s show ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ reach its pinnacle. His acting skills got him memorable roles in movies like ‘Kingpin,’ ‘Groundhog Day,’ ‘Scary Movie 2,’ and ‘There’s Something About Mary.’ He is criticized for his role in ‘Cabin Boy,’ which is often referred to as one of the worst movies ever made. However, failures have never held Chris back. He has also written and acted in television shows in partnership with his friend, Adam Resnick. The much talented Chris Elliott has also authored four books. What many people do not know is that his father, Bob Elliott, was a very well-known comedian and radio host. Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding’s legendary work in comedy has many fans, including David Letterman. And this was one of the reasons why Letterman gave Chris a chance on his own show.
Childhood & Early Life
Chris Elliott was born on May 31, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA, to Lee, a model and TV director, and the legendary comedian, Bob Elliott. Being the son of Bob Elliott, comedy runs in his blood. During the summer holidays, he would accompany his father and observe him at work.
In 1979, he joined Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut with the aim of becoming an actor. However, within a semester he realized that acting was not his cup of tea. One thing that he realized was that he could make people laugh.
He moved back to New York and got a job as a tour guide at the Rockefeller Center. With the help of his father he landed a job at NBC and he was soon noticed by David Letterman, who offered him a job of an assistant on his show.
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Chris Elliott’s career began with the ‘David Letterman Show’ in 1982. He started working as a runner and worked his way up to become a writer. Plus, he started appearing on a regular basis in various sketches on the show. People loved his “Guy Under the Seat,” “Panicky Guy,” and “Fugitive Guy” acts on the ‘David Letterman Show.’
His character, “The Guy Under the Seat,” was especially loved for the way he would come out from under the seats and go on to make Letterman’s life a hell. His bizarre comedy, hilarious one-liners, and making fun of everything that was going around in those days, got people to notice this bald guy. In 1984, he won this first Emmy under the category of ‘Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.’
In 1989, his first book, ‘Daddy’s Boy: A Son’s Shocking Account of Life with a Famous Father,’ was published, and he became a bestselling author. Since then, he has written three more books, ‘The Shroud of the Thwacker’ (2005), ‘Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest’ (2007), and ‘The Guy Under the Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography’ (2013).
In 1990, Chris Elliott starred in one of his best shows, ‘Get a Life.’ He was the writer, producer, and main lead of the show. His character, Chris Peterson, still lives with his parent and his behavior is that of a child. He is actually a man who never really grew up. Audiences loved his interactions with his family. However, the show lasted for only two seasons on the Fox Network. The show is now available on DVD.
In 1993, he appeared in the film ‘Groundhog Day’ as Larry the cameraman. In 1994, he co-wrote and acted in ‘Cabin Boy,’ a movie that was panned by critics for being one of the worst movies ever made.
In 1994, he joined the cast of the TV show ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The show got poor ratings that year. Plus, Chris realized that there was very little creative collaboration between the long-term cast members of the show. He left the show the very next year.
Though he never appeared in a lead role after ‘Cabin Boy,’ he did have small roles in numerous movies: ‘Kingpin’ (1996), ‘There's Something About Mary’ (1998), ‘Scary Movie 2’ (2001), ‘Scary Movie 4’ (2006), and ‘Sandy Wexler’ (2017).
From 2003-05, he had the recurring role of Peter in the TV series ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’ The TV series ‘Eagleheart’ (2011-14) was a major breakthrough for Chris Elliott, as he appeared in the leading role of Chris Monsanto. His character is a US Marshall, who, along with his two partners, fights crime.
His role in ‘Clara’s Ghost’ (2018) was his latest appearance in a movie. The movie has been written and directed by his daughter, Bridey Elliott. The entire Elliott family stars in the movie. Needless to say, he essays the role of the father in the movie.
Chris Elliott’s writing gig and appearances on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ is what got him noticed in Hollywood. He won four Emmys as a writer for the show, and his unique comedy talent helped take the show to the top.
The TV show ‘Get a Life’ is definitely one of his best works even though the show was pulled off the air after two seasons. His real-life father played his father on the show as well.
Family & Personal Life
Chris Elliott met his wife Paula Niedert while he was working on the show ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ His wife was a talent coordinator on the same show, and they married in 1986.
He has two daughters: Abby Elliott and Bridey Elliott. His daughter, Abby, has also appeared on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (2008-12). Prior to this, her father and grandfather had also appeared on the show. His other daughter, Bridey Elliott, is a well-known name in the world of standup comedy.
The creators of the film ‘Dumb and Dumber’ (1994) gave a serious thought to casting Chris in the role of Harry Dunne.