Zacharius Knight “Zach” Galifianakis (pronounced /ˈzæk ˌɡælɨfəˈnækɨs/ GAL-if-ə-NAK-iss; born October 1, 1969) is an American comedian and actor, known for numerous film and television appearances including his own Comedy Central Presents special. While initially more of an “underground” comedian, he garnered mainstream attention with his role in the successful 2009 comedy film The Hangover.
Galifianakis was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolina and attended Wilkes Central High School. His mother, Mary Frances, ran a community center for the arts, and his father, Harry Galifianakis, was an oil heating vendor who emigrated from Greece at the age of three. Galifianakis was raised in his father’s Greek Orthodoxfaith. His uncle, Nick Galifianakis, was a congressman from North Carolina between 1967 and 1973. Zach attended North Carolina State University, but did not graduate.
Galifianakis’s career began on television in 1996, when he played the recurring role of a stoner named Billy in the short-lived sitcom Boston Common. In 2001, Galifianakis co-starred in the film Out Cold. He has had small roles in Corky Romano, Below, Bubble Boy, Heartbreakers, and Into the Wild. In 2007 he appeared as himself in Super High Me. He had several films come out in 2008: What Happens in Vegas, Little Fish Strange Pond and the documentary Largo.
Galifianakis performed in episode 15 of season 5 of Comedy Central Presents, first aired 17 September 2001, including stand-up jokes, a segment with a piano, and concluding with an a cappella group (The Night Owls, introduced as his “12 ex-girlfriends”) singing “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles while he made jokes with flip charts and pranced around in tights. In 2002, he was the host of his own talk show called Late World with Zach. His next television role was as a coroner named Davis in the Fox drama Tru Calling, which lasted from 2003 to 2005. He has also appeared many times on Jimmy Kimmel Live and has made three appearances on Reno 911! as “Frisbee”.
Galifianakis was, together with Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Maria Bamford, one of the four Comedians of Comedy, a periodic packaged comedy tour in the style of the The Original Kings of Comedy and theBlue Collar Comedy Tour. He has recently[when?] left the tour and has been replaced by Eugene Mirman.
Galifianakis starred as Alan Finger on the Comedy Central show Dog Bites Man, a fake news program that caught people during candid moments as they acted under the impression that they are being interviewed by a real news crew. In addition, he was on an episode of the Comedy Central show The Sarah Silverman Program as Fred the Homeless Guy. He also had a recurring guest role as a doctor on the animated Adult Swim show Tom Goes to the Mayor and appeared in several episodes of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! as Tairy Greene, the Snuggler, et al. In Season two of Wonder Showzen, in the episode entitled “Horse Apples”, Galifianakis played the role of Uncle Daddy, an effeminate redneck who hosted his own garage-workshop show wherein he subconsciously dealt with his difficulties reconciling religion and culture with his probable homosexuality.
In 2006, Galifianakis was featured in Fiona Apple’s music video for the song “Not About Love” where he is seen lip-synching the lyrics to the song. A year later Kanye West employed Galifianakis and indie rock musician Will Oldham for similar purposes in the second version of the video for his song “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”. In June 2006 Galifianakis released the single “Come Over and Get It (Up in ‘Dem Guts)”, a comedic rap/hip-hop/dance song which features Apple’s vocals. More recently,[when?] Galifianakis performed on a tour called the “Comedians of Comedy” with Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt, and Maria Bamford. They chose to perform at live rock clubs as opposed to comedy clubs to try to reach a different audience. Much of the tour was taped, and has been featured in both a short-lived TV series on Comedy Central and a full length movie that has appeared at SXSW and on Showtime. A DVD featuring Galifianakis’s work, Live at the Purple Onion, was released on March 6, 2007. He also took part in the Funny or Die Tour with fellow comediansDemetri Martin, Nick Swardson, Andrea Savage and Will Ferrell.
Galifianakis divides his time between two residences, one in Venice Beach, CA, and a 60-acre (24 ha) farm in the foothills of North Carolina that he hopes to turn into a “writer’s retreat”.
On 22 February 2008, he made an appearance on the Jackassworld.com: 24 Hour Takeover. He interviewed various members of the Jackass cast.
Galifianakis starred in the independent film Visioneers which played in select cities in 2008. This was Galifianakis’s first starring role in a film and was given a direct-to-DVD release. That same year, Galifianakis appeared in a web video series of advertisements for Absolut vodka, along with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, creating a parody of the Golden Girls in which one has a deep anger issue, breaking the fourth wallin exasperation and outright violence on the set. He also just completed[when?] the pilot Speed Freaks for Comedy Central.
Galifianakis co-starred in the comedy The Hangover, released in June 2009.
Galifianakis has a series of videos on the Funny or Die website titled “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis” where he conducts staged interviews with popular celebrities between two potted ferns. He has interviewed Jimmy Kimmel, Michael Cera, Jon Hamm, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Bradley Cooper, Conan O’Brien, and Ben Stiller. His interview style consists of typical interview questions, bizarrenon sequiturs and inappropriate and sometimes sexual questions and comments, at one point attempting to tickle Michael Cera and force Cera to tickle him.
Following the Hangover’s release, Galifianakis was prominently advertised in subsequent films that featured him in supporting roles. These included G-Force, Youth in Revolt, and the Oscar nominated film Up in the Air.
Galifianakis is currently a member of the regular cast playing a supporting role in the HBO series Bored to Death. He hosted Saturday Night Live on March 6, 2010, during the show’s 35th season, during which he shaved his beard mid-show for a sketch, and then closed the show wearing a fake beard.
Galifianakis has been cast in several upcoming projects including Dinner for Schmucks, It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Todd Phillip’s follow up Due Date.