Adam McKay

Active - 2004 - Present  |   Born - Apr 17, 1968 in Denver, Colorado, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Nathan Southern

Born in 1968, the television sketch comedy scripter, big screen writer/director, and occasional performer Adam McKay first entered the public eye (and established himself professionally) when he helped found the Upright Citizens Brigade comic improv troupe in 1990, alongside Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Horatio Sanz, and others. McKay subsequently worked at the ImprovOlympic theater in Chicago and joined the cast of SCTV, contributing heavily to its infamous sketch "The PiƱata Full of Bees." Later (in the early '90s), McKay auditioned for the cast of Saturday Night Live. He failed to make the cut as an SNL performer, but submitted (highly politicized) material to the program which was so sharp and funny that it secured him a position as a regular SNL contributor (of scripts and occasional short films) from 1995 through 2001. For three of those years, McKay served as SNL head writer; longtime friend (and SCTV alumnus) Tina Fey succeeded him in the role.

During his SNL stint, McKay met and befriended funnyman Will Ferrell. Not long after McKay departed from the program, the two formed a professional partnership, teaming up to co-write the summer 2004 big screen comedy vehicle Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; McKay took the director's chair for that turn. Unsurprisingly, the film -- about an oversexed, chauvinistic, mentally-deficient San Diego newsman in the mid-'70s (Ferrell) -- became a massive hit. It prompted a follow-up, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, with the same pedigree as Anchorman, but this time around, McKay posed a triple threat, not only co-authoring the script with Ferrell, but portraying Terry Cheveaux in the cast.

He continued his association with Ferrell, directing him in films like Step Brothers (2008), The Other Guys (2010) and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), while continuing to produce and write other films. He was briefly considered to direct Ant-Man in 2015, but instead only contributed to the screenplay. In 2015, McKay directed two films- Daddy's Home, reuniting him with Ferrell, and The Big Short, his first directing venture without Ferrell. The film, about the 2007-08 financial crisis, starred Christian Bale and Steve Carell, and earned a slew of rave reviews and an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and a win, for Best Adapted Screenplay, for McKay.

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  • Began performing stand-up comedy six months after graduating from high school.
  • Dropped out of college one semester shy of graduation and moved to Chicago to pursue acting.
  • In 1990, co-founded Upright Citizens Brigade, a renowned improv comedy troupe.
  • Auditioned to be a cast member of Saturday Night Live, but was rejected; he later became head writer of the show for three seasons.
  • Founded the production company Gary Sanchez Productions with Well Ferrell.
  • In 2007, founded and launched the website Funny or Die with Will Ferrell and Chris Henchy.
  • Is co-host of the podcast Surprisingly Awesome alongside New York Times economic columnist Adam Davidson.
  • Actor Jeremy Piven is his brother-in-law.