Adam McKay

A veteran of Chicago's improvisational comedy scene, Adam McKay co-founded the popular and influential Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, served as head writer on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and wrote and directed a string of hit comedies starring his production partner, Will Ferrell, including "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004) before delving into political satire with the critically praised and award-nominated "The Big Short" (2015) and "Vice" (2018), Born April 17, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McKay was raised by his mother, who worked as a waitress; his father, a musician, left the family when McKay was seven years of age. During this period, he found both solace and inspiration in television comedy, including the broad antics of the Three Stooges, and after stints at both Pennsylvania State University and Temple University, McKay decided to pursue a path in comedy by studying under legendary teacher Del Close at Chicago's Improv Olympic. He later formed his own improv group, the Upright Citizen's Brigade, with such future comedy stars as Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh and Matt Besser. His work with the group - which was marked by a political bent and a decidedly dark streak - led to McKay performing with the main stage group at the famed Second City, and in 1995, a chance to audition for "Saturday Night Live." Though he did not make the cut as a performer, producer Lorne Michaels brought him aboard as a writer in 1995, where he met and befriended new cast member Will Ferrell. Together, the pair created some of Ferrell's most memorable creations for the series, including a dim-witted take on then-President George W. Bush; McKay eventually rose to head writer for "SNL" before departing in 2001, with Ferrell following suit in 2002. The pair scored a substantial hit with "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," with McKay directing and co-writing and Ferrell starring as an awesomely clueless newscaster; its success begat a string of box office windfalls, including "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006), "Step Brothers" (2008) and "The Other Guys" (2010), as well as Funny Or Die, a user-submitted comedy video site that generated a slew of popular series, including the long-running "Drunk History" (Comedy Central, 2013- ), the irreverent online talk show spoof "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifiniakis" (2008- ), the game show "Billy on the Street" (Fuse TV, 2011-15) with Billy Eichner and HBO's "Funny or Die Presents" (2010-11). McKay soon became the go-to creative force for broad, absurd comedies on film and television, and lent his talents to a slew of projects ranging from the Ferrell vehicles "Land of the Lost" (2009), "Get Hard" (2015) and "Daddy's Home" (2015) to the HBO series "Eastbound & Down" (2009-2013) with Danny McBride and a script rewrite for Marvel's "Ant-Man" (2015) with Paul Rudd. In the midst of this flurry of activity, McKay took a turn towards dramatic fare with an adaption of Michael Lewis's non-fiction book "The Big Short" (2015), which attempted to explain the 2007-2008 financial crisis caused by the U.S. housing bubble. Its irreverent, biting satire won critical praise and earned McKay and Charles Randolph an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Director. He then returned to a sizable stable of comedy projects, including "The Boss" (2016), with Melissa McCarthy, and "Daddy's Home 2" (2017), he wrote and directed "Vice" (2018), a darkly comic look at the life of former Vice President Dick Cheney, played by Christian Bale. Though reaction was split over McKay's depiction of Cheney as a cold, manipulative power broker, the film reaped numerous accolades, including Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for McKay.