Zach Galifianakis Biography

Comedian, Actor, Film Actor (1969–)
Zach Galifianakis is a comedic actor who struck Hollywood gold after appearing in the 2009 blockbuster The Hangover.


Comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis was born in North Carolina on October 1, 1969. After appearing on several TV shows in the 1990s and 2000s, including Reno 911, Galifianakis toured small clubs across the country with other stand-up comics, and a popular documentary was made of the tour: The Comedians of Comedy. But it was the 2009 hit comedy The Hangover that put Galifianakis on the comedic A-list. The film's sequel also proved to be a hit for the actor.

Early Life

Zach Galifianakis was born on October 1, 1969, in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to parents Harry and Mary Galifianakis. He was raised in a Greek Orthodox home.

In the late 1980s, Galifianakis attended North Carolina State University. He dropped out of college just one credit short of graduating, however, and moved to New York City. While in New York in 1995, Galifianakis met stand-up comedian Lisa deLarios, who pushed him to try his hand at stand-up comedy. Galifianakis performed his first show at a restaurant in Times Square called Hamburger Harry's. After a year of honing his skills in New York City, Galifianakis moved to Los Angeles, where he thought his bizarre brand of comedy would find a better reception.

Commercial Success

In 1997, Zach Galifianakis made his television debut as Bobby on the short-lived NBC sitcom Boston Common. He would reprise the role a total of five times before the show was canceled. Also in 1997, he gained additional exposure on the short-lived MTV comedy Apt. 2F, and went on to earn his first film role in The King and Me (1999).

In 2002, Galifianakis briefly hosted his own cable talk show on VH1, Late World With Zach. The show was not well-received, however, and, subsequently, was canceled shortly after it aired. From 2003 to 2005, Galifianakis played his longest-running recurring role on the sci-fi drama Tru Calling.

While acting in films and on television, Galifianakis continued to tour small clubs across the country with other unconventional stand-up acts, including Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Brian Posehn. A very popular documentary was made of the tour, titled The Comedians of Comedy, which offered great exposure for Galifianakis. The tour helped Zach land a recurring role on the hit Comedy Central Show, Reno 911, as well as the co-host slot on the short-lived mock news program Dog Bites Man.

In 2008, Galifianakis became widely known for a series of internet shorts for Absolut Vodka; the low-budget films became viral hits. That same year, he created his own internet comedy talk show, Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis. The show was hosted on Will Ferrell's popular comedy site Funny or Die. Galifianakis was purposely awkward and strange in the five-minute clips, as he interviewed many celebrities.

In 2009, Galifianakis landed his most famous role to date: He starred alongside Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in the 2009 hit comedy The Hangover. The movie, directed by Todd Phillips, won a Golden Globe for best comedy or musical in 2010. That same year, Galifianakis had a small but memorable role in the Oscar-nominated George Clooney film Up in the Air. He went on to star opposite Jason Schwartzman on the critically acclaimed HBO series Bored to Death.

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