Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis in Dinner for Schmucks

Zach Galifianakis in “Dinner for Schmucks”

Where was Zach Galifianakis before 2009’s “The Hangover”? He was doing quite a bit, actually, mostly working stand-up and garnering television and film credits for almost a decade before becoming a household name last summer. Of Greek descent, Zach was born in North Carolina in 1969, and while he attended North Carolina State, he did not graduate.

Zach’s first television role was as Bobby for five episodes on the Anthony Clark vehicle “Boston Common” in the mid ‘90s. His successful stand-up work was Zach’s bread and butter in the early phases of his career – performing on “Comedy Central Presents,” numerous “Jimmy Kimmel Live” visits, and three episodes of “Reno 911!” He was also seen on “Dog Bites Man,” the Comedians of Comedy Tour and the Funny or Die Tour.

The trajectory of Zach’s career is unlike most professional actors and actresses, but like other comedians before him, when the opportunity for film roles cropped up, Zach utilized the medium to extend his comedy bits, particularly with “The Hangover.” With the monster success of “The Hangover,” Galifianakis is now a certified mainstream comedian with roots in the underground and independent realms, including his staple for brief but memorable cameos (“Up in the Air”). His choice of roles indicates a continued interest in quirky characters and quirky films (“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” for one), but now he has a new mission: extend the reach. He very well may become to comedy what Philip Seymour Hoffman is to drama.

Zach on the Screen

He started on “Boston Common” for five episodes, and played the pizza boy in “The King and Me” in 1999, Pathetic Guy in “Flushed,” Bill in “The Heartbreakers,” Bus Stop Man in “Bubble Boy,” Luke in “Out Cold,” Davis for 27 episodes of “Tru Calling,” Alan Finger on “Dog Bites Man,” Fred Blorth for an episode of “The Sarah Silverman Program,” and he currently co-stars in “Bored to Death” with Ted Danson and Jason Schwartzman.

Zach Says

On the environment:
“I like the slogan ‘Live simply so we can simply live’ – but I also like the slogan ‘Who let the dogs out?,’ so who am I to say?”