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Zach Galifianakis: Hollywood‘s Unpredictable Comedy Genius

Full Name Zachary Knight Galifianakis
Born October 1, 1969 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Occupation Actor, Comedian, Writer, Producer
Years Active 1996-present
Spouse Quinn Lundberg (m. 2012)
Children 2 sons
Notable Works The Hangover, Between Two Ferns, Bored to Death
Net Worth $40 million
Social Media Twitter, Instagram

Zach Galifianakis is an acclaimed American actor and comedian known for his eccentric, deadpan comedy style. With starring roles in blockbuster films like The Hangover trilogy and creating viral sensations like Between Two Ferns, Galifianakis has become one of the most popular and recognizable comedic actors of the 2000s.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Born in 1969 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Galifianakis spent his childhood attending church camps thanks to his Greek Orthodox mother and running a lemonade stand with his younger sister Merritt. In high school, Galifianakis dabbled in acting before attending North Carolina State University where he intended to major in journalism.

After dropping out of NC State, Galifianakis moved to New York City to pursue stand-up comedy full-time. He spent years grinding it out on the NYC comedy circuit performing in the back of hamburger joints and coffee houses.

Galifianakis got his first TV appearance in 1996 on the show Boston Common but struggled for years to gain traction in his comedy career. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 90s and landed small roles in Corky Romano, Bubble Boy, and Heartbreakers.

Big Break with The Hangover

Galifianakis‘ major breakout role came in 2009 when he was cast as the eccentric Alan Garner in Todd Phillips‘ buddy comedy The Hangover. As part of an ensemble cast alongside Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms, Galifianakis stole scene after scene as the bizarre, socially awkward Alan.

With its $467 million box office gross and critical praise, The Hangover propelled Galifianakis to one of Hollywood‘s most in-demand comedic actors. He went on to reprise the fan-favorite role of Alan in the mega successful sequels The Hangover Part II (2011) and The Hangover Part III (2013).

Viral Sensation Between Two Ferns

Around the release of The Hangover, Galifianakis expanded his comedy repertoire by creating (along with director Scott Aukerman) the mock interview show Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.

Hosted on Funny or Die, Between Two Ferns featured cringe-worthy interviews between Galifianakis and major celebrities like Natalie Portman, Justin Bieber, and Barack Obama. The segments went viral thanks to Galifianakis‘ absurdist questioning and tortuous awkwardness.

Between Two Ferns earned Galifianakis the 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series and remains one of his most iconic projects, with over 1 billion views across all videos.

Why Zach Galifianakis Is So Funny

There are many reasons why Galifianakis stands out as such a uniquely funny presence in Hollywood:

  • His quirky mannerisms and stuttering speech cadence
  • His ability to mine awkwardness and discomfort for laughs
  • His rude, absurdist approach to interviewing celebrities
  • His skills at physical comedy and commitment to outrageous characters
  • His subtle moments of vulnerability behind the deadpan delivery

Galifianakis exhibits fearlessness when it comes to portraying bizarre, unhinged individuals on screen. And while his characters act unaware or indifferent, he allows small glimpses of sweetness to peek through. It‘s this contradiction that makes his brand of comedy so brilliantly funny yet endearing.

Dramatic Acting Chops

While known primarily for oddball comedy roles, Galifianakis has proven adept at more understated, dramatic work. He played a supporting role alongside Robert Redford in J.C. Chandor‘s crime drama A Most Violent Year (2014).

And in the indie drama Birdman (2014), Galifianakis showed off his arthouse acting talents as the frustrated producer trying to save a troubled play headed by Michael Keaton‘s character.

These types of against-type roles display Galifianakis‘ wider range as a performer.

Generous Giving

In addition to being super funny, Galifianakis has a reputation for being one of the kindest celebs in Hollywood. He‘s an active supporter of charities like the Youth Homeless Shelter My Friend‘s Place and even filmed a Between Two Ferns episode with Hillary Clinton to encourage people to vote.

Galifianakis is also known for performing random acts of kindness to everyday people. Back in 2012, he gave a homeless man $1,000 cash on the spot after hearing about his homeless situation on the streets of Santa Monica.

While promoting The Hangover 3, Galifianakis pulled over on the freeway to help a woman who had crashed her car, waiting with her until the ambulance arrived. These stories reveal his generosity and caring side that exists behind the boundary-pushing comedy.

“I like when money goes towards helping people with real problems.” – Zach Galifianakis

Zach By the Numbers

  • Over 50 films and television shows
  • 1 Emmy Award win (Between Two Ferns)
  • 3 films in The Hangover trilogy as Alan
  • 2 children with wife Quinn Lundberg
  • $40 million estimated net worth
  • 5‘ 7" tall
  • 743k Twitter followers
  • 5.7 million Instagram followers

Now in his early 50s, Galifianakis‘ comedy career continues to thrive. His hilarious web series Between Two Ferns was recently adapted into a full-length Netflix movie in 2019. He also stars as a supporting actor in the new 2022 film The Whale, portraying the best friend of a 600-pound recluse played by Brendan Fraser.

With his rare ability to blend avant-garde humor and heartfelt moments, Zach Galifianakis has cemented his reputation as one of the most brilliantly funny leading men working today. His risk-taking comedy constantly subverts expectations, keeping audiences delighted and wanting more.