Country of origin United States
Networks FOX, Comedy Central
Theme music composer Dweezil Zappa
First episode date 27 September 1992
|Created by Ben Stiller
Written by Ben Stiller Judd Apatow Robert Cohen David Cross Brent Forrester Bob Odenkirk Sultan Pepper Dino Stamatopoulos
Starring Ben Stiller Andy Dick Janeane Garofalo Bob Odenkirk
Opening theme "Groove Holmes" by Dweezil Zappa
Writers Ben Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Judd Apatow, David Cross
Cast Ben Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick, John F O'Donohue
The ben stiller show
The Ben Stiller Show is the name of two sketch comedy television shows that aired on MTV from 1989 to 1990, and then on Fox from September 27, 1992 to January 17, 1993. The Fox show stars Ben Stiller, Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo and Bob Odenkirk. Character actor John F. O'Donohue also appeared in every episode. The series featured numerous filmed comedy segments, many of which parodied mid-1980s to early 1990s pop-culture. Despite mostly positive reviews, Fox canceled the series after only 13 episodes due to low ratings.
Unlike most sketch comedy shows, The Ben Stiller Show did not use a studio audience or a laugh track, and was the only Fox sketch comedy program not to use a laugh track. The semi-spinoff, The Andy Dick Show, used the same format.
After cancellation, the series won the 1993 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
The ben stiller show ep2
The original MTV version of The Ben Stiller Show aired in 1990-1991 and ran for 13 episodes. It is not available on DVD, although excerpts from the program are featured as a bonus on that release. Produced by Jim Jones, who would go on to produce the Fox series and starring Ben Stiller and co-writer Jeff Kahn, it was a self-effacing show-within-a-show format. Part of MTV's pre-Real World and experimental Vid-Com season of 1989-1990, it was interspersed with music videos that Ben and company would introduce in their short comedy sketches. Regulars included Harry O'Reilly and Ben's sister Amy Stiller. Guest stars included Ben's parents Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, as well as John F. O'Donohue, Melina Kanakaredes, Al Lewis and MTV regular Martha Quinn.
Stiller and Kahn used this MTV show as a means to introduce and hone many of Ben's characterizations, some of which would later be seen on the Fox network production. They also frequently layered characters in a complex sandwich of sub-referencing. Ben did satirical portrayals of William Shatner as Star Trek's Captain Kirk, Al Pacino, Arsenio Hall, Bruce Springsteen, U2's Bono and Yakov Smirnoff. His portrayal of Tom Cruise was a major signature, spoofing several of Cruise's late 1980s film characters. He would then insert these characters into each other's famous performances, sub-referencing on multiple levels.
Skits in the MTV series included "The Eddie Munster Comeback Special," where Ben plays an all-grown-up and angry Eddie Munster, complete with who gets into a shouting match with Grandpa from The Munsters (played by Al Lewis) while trying to stage a serious moment from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In somewhat of a foreshadowing of his subsequent series, one episode was dedicated to showing the FOX network that Ben and Jeff could play all the characters in the 1990 Fox primetime lineup, spoofing COPS, Alien Nation, Booker, and Married... with Children. "The Star Trek Show" spoofed William Shatner and Bono and the inevitable demise of the red-shirted security officers beamed down to an alien planet, portrayed by Ben and Jeff's characters "Howie and Jordo," two college-age underachievers who were constantly in trouble. Through multiple layers of sub-referencing, Howie and Jordo jump through a time portal and end up at Woodstock and sing the "Time Portal Blues", while still wearing their Star Trek uniforms. Another multi-layered Star Trek reference is made in an episode where Stiller runs through multiple episodes of satire, playing Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, but having hijacked The Enterprise, speaking through Uhura with Leon (played by Jeff Kahn) who is his boyfriend who needs an alien change operation. He does the same kind of stunt playing Captain Kirk in the character of Tom Cruise in Rain Man with Kahn playing Dustin Hoffman's savant character in the makeup and dialogue of Mr. Spock. Stiller and Kahn were constantly sub-referencing into thicker layers of characterizations.
The MTV series' major underlying gag was of the battle of talent between Ben and Jeff, and their antagonistic treatment of each other during their "show's" production. Jeff is convinced that he is a greater talent then Ben, and spends most of his time either trying to prove this to the "MTV Head" Doogie Herzog, a pre-teen boy, or by publicly embarrassing Ben on-screen. In the series finale, Jeff and Harry O'Reilly finally convince the MTV Head that they are the real talent of the show, and they get their own series. Ben is forced to leave the set crying.
Warner Home Video released all 13 episodes of the Fox version of The Ben Stiller Show on DVD in Region 1 on December 2, 2003.
In 2012 there was a reunion at the New York Comedy Festival with the original cast members. Apatow hosted the reunion which featured Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick and staff writers Robert Cohen and Jeff Kahn. Bob Odenkirk also appeared via Skype video chat.