Skip to content

Chevy Chase: Comedy Trailblazer and Architect of Modern Humor

Chevy Chase is an American comedian, actor and writer best known as a trailblazer on NBC‘s Saturday Night Live and for starring in blockbuster comedies like National Lampoon‘s Vacation.

Full Name Cornelius Crane Chase
Age 79
Birthday October 8, 1943
Birth Sign Libra
Born New York City, NY
Relationship Married to Jayni Chase since 1982
Height 6‘4"
Net Worth $50 million
Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

As one of entertainment‘s most decorated comedic performers, Chase has done it all. But to really understand his brilliance, you have to go back to the beginning.

Discovering Comedy in the Counter Culture

Chevy Chase was born in 1943 in New York City into a family of artists and intellectuals. After kicking around jobs like truck driving, bartending, and advertising, he found his calling in comedy.

Chase honed his satirical, improvisational style with avant-garde performance troupes like Channel One. As the turbulent 60s gave way to the 70s, Chase‘s deadpan subversiveness struck a chord with the anti-establishment ethos of the era.

So when producer Lorne Michaels began assembling a cast of unknowns for a new, edgy late night comedy show called Saturday Night Live, Chase perfectly fit the bill.

Rocket to Stardom on Saturday Night Live

Chevy Chase became one of the original Not Ready for Primetime Players when Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC in 1975. Though only on the show for one season, Chase became SNL‘s first breakout star.

With trademark segments like his "Weekend Update" editorials and bumbling impersonation of President Ford, Chase defined the show‘s anarchic, topical humor. His ironic catchphrase "I‘m Chevy Chase and you‘re not" cemented his mix of ego and self-mockery.

Chase won two Emmys for SNL, proving that TV comedy could be subversive. Even today, his influence is apparent in SNL’s political and news satire.

Big Screen Dominance in the 80s

After leaving SNL, Chase focused on movies. He had early success with comedies like Foul Play and Caddyshack, where his persona as an arrogant misfit found the perfect outlet.

But Chase’s career hit new heights with 1983‘s National Lampoon‘s Vacation. His portrayal of the disaster-prone, doggedly optimistic Clark Griswold became an instant classic. The Vacation franchise continued with sequels in 1985, 1989, 1997, and 2015.

Other 80s hits like Fletch, Three Amigos, and Funny Farm cemented Chase as one of Hollywood‘s biggest comedy stars. His deft blend of slapstick and absurdism brought the laughs in blockbusters for nearly two decades.

Later Career Renaissance

After a slowdown in the 90s, Chase found renewed success in 2009 playing elderly tycoon Pierce Hawthorne on the cult sitcom Community. He earned Emmy nominations in 2010 and 2012 for the role.

Chase occasionally appears in films and TV guest spots today. But his true legacy was solidified long ago as a pioneer who shaped modern comedy.

Lasting Impact on Comedy

Few entertainers have been as influential as Chevy Chase. His breakout stardom on SNL set the template for generations of comedy stars. As one of the first anti-establishment comics, Chase paved the way for boundary-pushing humor.

Some of Chase‘s many accolades over his 50+ year career include:

  • 6 Emmy Award Nominations, 2 Wins
  • 5 Golden Globe Nominations, 1 Win
  • Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

At 79, Chevy Chase‘s imprint on comedy remains indelible. Thanks to his vision and talent, humor is more subversive, daring, and honest than ever before.