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Zacharius Knight "Zach" Galifianakis (born October 1, 1969) is an American comedian and actor, known for numerous film and television appearances including his own Comedy Central Presents special. He is known for his unconventional stand-up style, that features the reading of one-liners while playing a piano during his performances. While initially more of an "underground" and lesser-known comedian, he garnered considerable mainstream attention with his breakthrough role in the successful 2009 comedy The Hangover, as his character of Alan.

Personal life

Galifianakis ( ) was born in Wilkesboro, North Carolinamarker 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 Greecemarker at the age of three. Galifianakis was raised in his father's Greek Orthodox faith, but now says he's "not sure" on the subject of religion.

Galifianakis's cousin Nicholas Galifianakis is a newspaper cartoonist, and his uncle Nick Galifianakis is a former Democratic U.S. Congressman who lost a race for an open Senate seat in 1972 against Jesse Helms, launching Helms's career in the Senate.

Galifianakis attended North Carolina State Universitymarker, but did not graduate.


Galifianakis' 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. Galifianakis called Tru Calling "the worst TV show I have ever seen," and he used to call it "Truly Appalling." He has also appeared many times on Jimmy Kimmel Live and has made three appearances on Reno 911! as "Frisbee".

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. In Season two of Wonder Showzen, in the episode entitled "Horse Apples", Galifianakis played the role of Uncle Daddy, a feminine 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". In the video, 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, 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 comedians Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson, Andrea Savage and Will Ferrell.

Galifianakis divides his time between two residences, one in Venice Beach, CAmarker, and a farm in the foothills of North Carolinamarker that he hopes to turn into a "writer's retreat".

On 22 February 2008, he made an appearance on the 24 Hour Takeover. He interviewed various members of the Jackass cast.

In 2008, 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 wall in exasperation and outright violence on the set. He also just completed the pilot Speed Freaks for Comedy Central.

Galifianakis appeared uncredited in the 2009 film Gigantic, where he plays the character of a homeless man stalking the protagonist played by Paul Dano. Galifianakis co-starred in the comedy The Hangover, released in June 2009. The film became an overnight box office smash and is helping to raise Galifianakis's profile to more mainstream appeal. Zach also starred in the independent film Visioneers which played to select cities in 2008. This was Zach's first starring role in a film, and was having trouble finding a distributor. But due to Zach's newfound mainstream success the film was given a direct-to-DVD release.

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. So far, he has interviewed Jimmy Kimmel, Michael Cera, Jon Hamm, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Bradley Cooper, and Conan O'Brien. His interview style consists of typical interview questions, bizarre non sequiturs and inappropriate and sometimes sexual questions and comments, at one point attempting to tickle Michael Cera and force Cera to tickle him.

During an interview on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Galifianakis was asked if he had received any pressure from his agent to change his last name. He jokingly replied that Zach Galifianakis is, in fact, a stage name and that his real name is actually Chad Farthouse.

Galifianakis is currently a member of the regular cast playing a supporting role in the HBO series Bored to Death.


Year Film Role Notes
1999 The King and Me Pizza boy
Flushed Pathetic guy
2001 Heartbreakers Bill
Bubble Boy Bus stop man
Corky Romano Dexter
Out Cold Luke
2002 Below Weird Wally
2003 - 2005 Tru Calling Davis
2004 Zach & Avery of Fergus Homeless man
2006 The Pity Card Zach
2007 Into the Wild Kevin
2008 What Happens in Vegas Dave the Bear
Visioneers George
2009 Gigantic Homeless guy
The Hangover Alan Garner
G-Force Ben
Up in the Air Steve
2010 Youth in Revolt Jerry
Due Date Ethan
2011 The Hangover 2 Alan Garner


  1. Zach Galifianakis Biography (1969-)
  4. Brian M. Palmer | Zach Galifianakis interview
  5. Zach Galifianakis: Bible full of typos | That Other Paper | Austin’s ONLY Paper
  6. YouTube - A Vodka Movie by Zach Galifianakis, Tim and Eric
  7. Visioneers Website
  9. Retrieved on 2009-04-01

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