6:29 pm - 04/05/2012

He’s Not Chevy, He’s an Asshole: A History of Chevy Chase’s Horrific Behavior

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"When you become famous, you've got like a year or two where you act like a real asshole," Bill Murray told Tom Shales and James Miller when they interviewed him for Live from New York, their oral history of Saturday Night Live. "You can't help yourself. It happens to everybody. You've got like two years to pull it together — or it's permanent." He was talking, of course, about Chevy Chase, his opponent in a famous backstage fistfight. The two are friendly now, and it seems as though Murray wanted to imply that Chase had "pulled himself together" following his sudden rise to fame.

But by most accounts, Chevy Chase's assholedom was permanent.
The history of Chevy Chase being a jerk is long and varied, and from what I've heard Chevy is hard at work creating new legends of his own dickishness as the old stories become more widely known. I heard a recent story about Chevy unloading on a nervous intern who spilled a small amount of Coca-Cola in front of Chase and SNL creator Lorne Michaels. "Why don't you just piss in it?" he snarled.

But you don't even need to hunt down anecdotes of Chevy screaming at interns: between the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about Saturday Night Live, his weirdly public ongoing spats with actors and writers on Community, and the unbelievably dickish and petty interviews he's given over the years, there's plenty of evidence that Chevy Chase is an asshole. Here's a working timeline. If you've got any Chevy Chase stories, send them my way at max@gawker.com.

Saturday Night Live Season One

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Who He Pissed Off: John Belushi, Al Franken, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, and basically the whole cast and writing staff of Saturday Night Live
How: According to Jeff Weingrad and Doug Hill's Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, Chevy was known as "a viciously effective put-down artist, the sort who could find the one thing somebody was sensitive about — a pimple on the nose, perhaps — and then kid about it, mercilessly." In meetings, he'd smirk at writers' suggestions and say "gee, I don't think that's very good at all." As the show, and in particular Chevy, took off, his coworkers accused him of not giving them enough credit in interviews; he was also doing too much coke and spending much of his time bragging about his fame and ordering people around the set.

Who He Pissed Off: Johnny Carson
How: Carson once said Chevy "couldn't ad-lib a fart after a baked-bean dinner" after Chevy dismissed chatter that he could be the next Carson by telling New York, "I'd never be tied down for five years interviewing TV personalities." (In fairness, he never was.)

Who He Pissed Off: Lorne Michaels
How: Lorne and Chevy were close friends, until Chevy, without warning, decided to leave the show at the end of his contract and do a handful of primetime specials for NBC, severing his relationship with Bernie Brillstein, the manager he shared with Lorne, and signing with William Morris in the process. "Chevy was a scumbag the way he left," one of the writers told Weingrad and Hill. "Deceitful and dishonest about the whole thing." When staff writer Tom Davis asked why he was leaving, Chevy said "Money. Lots of money."

After SNL

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Who He Pissed Off: Jacqueline Carlin
How: Carlin, whom Chevy married right after he left the show, filed for divorce 17 months later, citing "threats of violence." He then cited his engagement and impending marriage to Carlin as a reason for leaving Saturday Night Live — a "blame the bitch" strategy, according to one of the women on the show.

Who He Pissed Off: Jane Curtin
How: When Chevy returned to host the show for the first time after his departure, he insisted on doing the "Weekend Update" segment that had been his trademark. According to some accounts, including Chevy's, this pissed Jane off; in Live from New York, Jane insists that she didn't really care, and that "Chevy was expecting [a reaction] that he wasn't getting from me."

Who He Pissed Off: Bill Murray
How: According to Chevy, John Belushi had spent a lot of time poisoning the cast against him — in particular Bill Murray, who was more or less his replacement on the show. Bill apparently confronted Chevy about something (possibly the "Weekend Update" situation), the two traded barbs (Murray told Chase to go home and fuck his wife; Chase told Murray his face looked like something Neil Armstrong had landed on), and the confrontation turned physical. Chase's account of the fight in Live from New York is hilarious, both for being so self-serving and for his insistence that he — an upper-middle- class fourteenth-generation New Yorker — had "grown up on the edge of East Harlem" and "been in a lot of fistfights." "It wasn't as if I was simply some guy who had never seen the other side of the tracks," Chase, who went to Dalton and the Stockbridge school, said. "I had."

Who He Pissed Off: Terry Sweeney, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Lovitz and the cast of the 1985-1986 season
How: Chase was back to host again in 1985 and seemed to piss off literally everyone. He made fun of Robert Downey Jr.'s father ("Didn't your father used to be a successful director? Whatever happened to him? Boy, he sure died, you know, he sure went to hell.") and was relentlessly hateful to Terry Sweeney, suggesting that SNL's first openly gay cast member star in a sketch where they weighed him every week to see if he had AIDS. "So then he ended up having to apologize and actually coming to my office," Sweeney says. "He was really furious that he had to apologize to me."

(As a coda to Chevy's SNL assholery, we'll note that he ran into Live from New York author James Miller a few years after the book's publication. Angry with his status in the book as a recurring villain, Chevy proceeded to prove everyone right by immediately going off on Miller. And one of the authors received a sobbing phone call from his wife Jayni.)

The Chevy Chase Show

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Who He Pissed Off: The entire television-viewing public.
How: Chevy returned to television in 1993 with a high-profile attempt by Fox to fill the void left by a retiring Johnny Carson. In a New York cover profile from before the show's premiere (highly recommended, if only for the parenthetical where Chase tries to blame the huge flop Nothing But Trouble on poor Dan Aykroyd) the show already feels doomed to fail — the only preview we get is a game Chevy wants to play with audience members involving putting rubber bands around their heads and "racing" by scrunching their faces — and within five weeks of its debut, it was canceled. He later told Time he wanted to do something "much darker and more improv," and blamed network constraints — and not his own clear nervousness and incompetence — for the show's failure

Who He Pissed Off: Will Ferrell and the cast of the 1996-1997 season
How: "When he was here," Tim Meadows says in Live from New York, "it was like just watching a car accident over and over again just watching him deal with people." According to Will Ferrell, Chase was "a little snobbish" and prone to screaming at people; at that show's first meeting he told a female writer "maybe you could give me a handjob later," reportedly mortifying Lorne. "I don't know if he was on something or what," Ferrell said. "If he took too many back pills that day or something."

Who He Pissed Off: Comedian Rob Huebel
How: Huebel, who describes himself as "the biggest Chevy Chase fan in the world," approached Chevy backstage at UCB Theater to introduce himself, only to have Chevy slap him across the face "offensively hard." It was done as a joke ("in good humor," Chase told New York magazine), but it clearly left an impression on Huebel and an onlooking Jason Mantzoukas.

The Roast

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Who He Pissed Off: Actually, no one.
How: The 2002 Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase, one of those interminable things broadcast on Comedy Central, may be the only thing Chevy's been involved with professionally where he didn't end up pissing anyone off. And yet we have to mention it here, if only because it's maybe the best, and saddest evidence of how few friends Chevy has left. Almost no one from the original Saturday Night Live showed up (Paul Shaffer, a member of the band, MCed), and the comedians who did show weren't exactly close friends of Chase, and were unbelievably cruel. (Not to mention unfunny.) I caught this on TV at the time without really having a sense of how widely-hated Chevy was; by the end, there was literally no question that nobody liked him.


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Who He Pissed Off: Dan Harmon
How: Show creator Harmon, himself reputedly a sensitive and vindictive prick, has been embroiled in a weirdly public feud with Chase almost since the start of the show, and it's not hard to see the uncomfortable parallels between Chevy himself and his character Pierce Hawthorne — an old, out-of-touch, self-aggrandizing bigot who alienates all of the people he works with. Their sniping turned into a full-on confrontation over the last week when Harmon, smarting from an on-set spat over a late script, gave a very public "fuck you" to Chase at a party in front of his wife and daughter and leaked a hilariously profane voicemail that Chevy had left for him. To be fair, Harmon's apologized, in a meandering Tumblr post: "I'm a selfish baby and a rude asshole and not a person to trust with your feelings." Meanwhile, a sort of poignant interview with the Huffington Post, Chase hints that he might leave the show soon, insisting that he wants a "much freer kind of performance thing" — which is more or less what he said about The Chevy Chase Show 20 years ago.

Who He Pissed Off: Dino Stamatopoulos and much of the Community cast.
How: Chevy "has a reputation for being a dick," Dino Stamatopoulos, who plays the character Star Burns, told Marc Maron on his podcast last year. "That reputation is earned." (Stamatopoulos nevertheless insists that he personally likes Chevy, and that all the actor needs "is a little respect," which he apparently doesn't get from the younger cast.)

Who He Pissed Off: Yvette Brown, Alison Brie, Megan Ganz and probably most of the show's female staff
How: No one has come out and said specifically that Chase is a problem, but there are hints: asked by the Daily Beast's Jace Lacob about an uncomfortable rape joke Chevy made at a panel appearance by the cast, castmembers Yvette Brown and Alison Brie and writer Megan Ganz were diplomatic but not particularly warm. "His bits are from a different time," Ganz says. "A lot of crass comedy is accepted," Brie offers. "Some people don't know how to word it the right way." Brown agrees that some people don't "know their room... Maybe he was from a time when women weren't empowered enough to speak up. I'm glad that we're in a time now where if you are offended or upset by something someone says, you feel empowered to say, 'That's not right.'" (Chase doesn't seem to be helping things by telling the Huffington Post that the only two relatable characters are "the two white girls — the two pretty, young girls, Alison [Brie] and Gillian [Jacobs]" who are "probably more like people that we can all understand.")

[updated 4/5 with Rob Huebel]


So maybe this isn't new news, but I hadn't heard of some of these and it's nice to read all theses stories in one place.
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wristtattoos 5th-Apr-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
*the room full of people who care .gif*
wristtattoos 5th-Apr-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
chevy is a douche. always has been. shouldn't be too surprising.
jeveuxmacaron 5th-Apr-2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
apparently not everyone knows given that people were defending him in the last community post
stellar_ball 5th-Apr-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
Not really surprsing, but I love reading "behind the scenes" type of stuff.
starchit 5th-Apr-2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
Gorl whatever, I wasn't aware of his douchehattery because I don't watch Community, but this is interesting to read the behind-the-scenes stuff from the very beginning.
nathanandbarry 6th-Apr-2012 12:25 am (UTC)
Looks like a lot of people cared. lol.
vanishingbee 5th-Apr-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
team jane

Edited at 2012-04-05 11:52 pm (UTC)
jeveuxmacaron 5th-Apr-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
i remember how she said that john belushi would try to actively sabotage sketches written by women or for women because he said 'women are fundamentally not funny' smh
vanishingbee 5th-Apr-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
Seriously, urgh @ that attitude being all over comedy STILL.
starchit 6th-Apr-2012 12:00 am (UTC)

_xxtom 6th-Apr-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Yupp. He was disgusting.
hershelwalker 6th-Apr-2012 12:11 am (UTC)
I remember hearing that
betelgeuse 6th-Apr-2012 12:13 am (UTC)
john belushi was always unfunny as fuck to me
skeet_skeet 6th-Apr-2012 12:01 am (UTC)
This is the reason I have no respect for John Belushi tbh.

He worked with Gilda Fucking Radner and he thinks that way. Fuck him with a rusty pipe.
handsdowntoo 6th-Apr-2012 12:14 am (UTC)
Jane is boss.
odetobilliejoe 6th-Apr-2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Always. Team Jane, for real.
massielita 6th-Apr-2012 12:55 am (UTC)
I loved Kate & Allie growing up
deerlike 6th-Apr-2012 03:45 am (UTC)
freemywilly 6th-Apr-2012 04:17 am (UTC)
John was such a sexist douche
muzicnem 6th-Apr-2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
I love Jane sfm. She and John Lithgow killed me on 3rd Rock From the Sun.
nathanandbarry 5th-Apr-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
YAAASSS! I was hoping someone would make this a post. I liked the article. It included some stuff I actually didn't know. I didn't know anything about the roast.

Edited at 2012-04-05 11:58 pm (UTC)
superdogbiter 5th-Apr-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
can i just say that in his childhood his mom and stepdad were complete psychos to him.
I think chevys mom once almost took a knife to him
not excusing his behavoir just saying

Edited at 2012-04-05 11:53 pm (UTC)
jeveuxmacaron 5th-Apr-2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
sorry but this is like the 'roman polanski survived the holocaust' excuse

superdogbiter 5th-Apr-2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
but has chevy raped a child?
no he's just an asshole
missmonkeydust 6th-Apr-2012 12:59 am (UTC)
Yeah but no. Chevy's an arsehole not a pedo.
freemywilly 6th-Apr-2012 04:19 am (UTC)
Yes, it just seems like a pathetic excuse to justify his shitty behavior/personality.
bloody_morgan 6th-Apr-2012 06:46 am (UTC)
I understand your point, you're comparing methods of excuse not the topics of excuse and I fully agree.
rivadavia 6th-Apr-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
wasn't it darrell hammond's mom with the knife
skeet_skeet 6th-Apr-2012 12:02 am (UTC)
Well plenty of people have shitty parents and don't act like total assholes to everyone around them.
josiefier 6th-Apr-2012 12:05 am (UTC)
We've recently heard similar things about Darrell Hammond, (namely the threat of knives getting pulled on him by his mother and how comedy was a lot less frightening than that for him) but we don't hear things like this about him. Maybe it's because he's not considered as relevant, but still.
arminaa 6th-Apr-2012 12:08 am (UTC)
I think that you're thinking of Darrell Hammond.
workbitch 5th-Apr-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
Umm people believe he isn't a douch/asshole? He's basically almost Pierce IRL
leviicorpus 5th-Apr-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
I'm almost certain Gillian Jacobs tweeted that once.
sheinhardt 6th-Apr-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
lmao did she really
leviicorpus 5th-Apr-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
gummisteph 6th-Apr-2012 12:24 am (UTC)
moddchicc 5th-Apr-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
I kinda felt bad for Chevy after finding out his stepdad abused him.

Jane remains a BAMF
superdogbiter 5th-Apr-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
his mom was worse though
shoutingasong 6th-Apr-2012 01:07 am (UTC)
Same here. I will always love the Vacation movies though, nothing will ever change that.
jonesingjay 5th-Apr-2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
i like fletch and fletch lives.
bluekrinkle 6th-Apr-2012 12:04 am (UTC)
Fletch is great.
emavalexis 5th-Apr-2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
"You can't help yourself. It happens to everybody. You've got like two years to pull it together — or it's permanent."

If you're a male celebrity, sure.

If you're female, you're just pretty much fucked from the get-go.
false_hate 6th-Apr-2012 12:57 am (UTC)
Sad and true.
asdfjklkjhfds 5th-Apr-2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
v comprehensive article
ngl the study group would be weird without pierce but at the same time all of this drama over this show makes it even harder to stan for. the lackluster episodes since the hiatus aren't helping, either.
trumpydoesmagic 5th-Apr-2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
title or description
vanishingbee 6th-Apr-2012 12:07 am (UTC)
lol I'm just looking up where to buy this tbh

(the actual one)
lindz93 6th-Apr-2012 12:25 am (UTC)
Amazon. That's where I got mine.
janeeyre 6th-Apr-2012 12:38 am (UTC)
lol, this is real?
roguewave3 5th-Apr-2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
This article goes into detail about the Roast.

ionizable 6th-Apr-2012 01:59 am (UTC)
that was a rly long article, but i actually feel sympathetic towards him now... urgh
apathetic_ninja 11th-Apr-2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
polaroidmoment 5th-Apr-2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Jane Curtin is such a HBIC. I love that she gave no fucks at all about Chevy's assholery.
lilacwater 6th-Apr-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
She is fucking awesome
luvthatdrtywata 6th-Apr-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
3rd rock from the sun >>>>>> chevy chase's entire life
simplysly 6th-Apr-2012 11:27 am (UTC)
We had that 3D episode on tape, and I watched it so much that now when I see her my first thought is "Borneo. Where it gets so hot, the dress code is naked."
muzicnem 6th-Apr-2012 02:33 pm (UTC)

That whole cast was flawless.
betelgeuse 6th-Apr-2012 12:14 am (UTC)
she was flawless on oprah

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evilgmbethy 6th-Apr-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
ia, Kate and Allie was my shit when I was a kid
love_alice 6th-Apr-2012 12:52 am (UTC)
i love her the way a lot of people love meryl streep.
deerlike 6th-Apr-2012 03:45 am (UTC)
iawtc, I love her.
freemywilly 6th-Apr-2012 04:21 am (UTC)
I like how she wasn't taking any of his nonsense and stood her ground.
candifornia 5th-Apr-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
wow i did not know this

i didnt even know who he was before community but i'm english so i get an excuse!!! i rlly liked pierce in s1 but his character is bland now
boltonlove 5th-Apr-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
your icon is so pretty :) i saw the trailer for the movie last night when i went to go see titanic and the pink hair was by far my favorite.
candifornia 6th-Apr-2012 12:02 am (UTC)
ty! :)
musicnextdoor 6th-Apr-2012 12:03 am (UTC)
what movie is it?
treebraids 6th-Apr-2012 08:32 am (UTC)
er, I'm Nigerian and I knew who he was before community.
zofi_hime 6th-Apr-2012 10:35 am (UTC)
I'm english ...i knew him from the National Lampoons films, Spies Like us and other 80's films
maybe its an age thing, i remember as a child my dad watching a lot of films with him
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