'The Tonight Show': Ben Stiller says dad Jerry was 'very quiet' in real life unlike his stage persona
Ben Stiller's father and 'Seinfeld' actor Jerry Stiller passed away last week at age 92 and the former made an appearance on 'The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon' to reflect on the memories of his late father. Ben admitted that he "figured it would be good to do it (appear on the show) because it would be a chance to talk about my dad for a little bit". The late actor along with his wife Meera and Ben were on Jimmy Fallon's show in the past and the host reminisced about the time when the famed husband-and-wife comedy duo played a game of charades. Ben instantly lit up thinking about the time and listed it as "one of the most ridiculous things ever."
He later spoke proudly about his parents being a "unit" and sharing "amazing chemistry" across their 60-year-old married life. He also spoke about how comedy came naturally to his father, stating: "My dad wasn't always trying to be funny, he wanted to be funny but he wouldn't go for a laugh, he'd just be himself". He also revealed that his father was very quiet in real life, quite opposite of his stage persona. "He was very, very quiet and he [was] suppressed a lot. He came up from this upbringing where he is very, very poor. His dad was a bus driver in Depression-era New York City. He had all this stuff inside him and that's where it would come out in the characters."
Jimmy asked him if he's heard or remembers any stories in the past week about his father. Ben revealed that a lot of people have reached out to him and "it's really nice just to feel how much he touched people, how much enjoyment he gave people. I know he would have felt good about it". He also mentioned that his kids shared a great relationship with their late grandfather. He shared a funny story from the time his daughter Ella had partaken in a play and Jerry had made sure to be present for the performance. Ben still remembers his father's funny response that went "I didn't care for it. Ella had the commitment and she was shining up there but I didn't feel the rest of the kids were up for it."
Not only was he a supportive grandfather but Ben also admitted that Jerry had always been a "supportive dad." He added, "I remember the first job I had was a play in New York, 'The House of Blue Leaves'. It ran for a couple of weeks on Broadway and I had a small part in it. He would do what they call second acting. He'd come in during the second act... He'd do that all the time because he just wanted to watch and enjoy it".
Ben also spoke about a time when he was 11 or 12 years old and a kid had stolen his bike in Riverside Park. Later that day, Jerry took him to buy a second-hand bike, and while at the shop Ben saw the kid who stole his bike and it resulted in both of them running 3-4 blocks down the road chasing the kid. When Jerry finally caught up to the kid, he decided to let him keep the bike because he needed it.
Ben revealed that he was 16 when he "experimented and tried LSD" with a friend for the "first and the last time." He mentioned that he was in New York in Upperwest Side and it was "not a fun experience" for him and called his parents after freaking out. His parents were in LA at the time shooting a 'Love Boat' episode and Ben admitted they were "not really into the drug world." I called and said "Dad I took some acid. I could hear the silence at the end of the phone because I think he was feeling 'I failed as a parent'."
"The next thing he said was it's going to be okay and he started talking me down, even though he knew nothing about drugs," Ben said. "He said, 'I know what you’re feeling. When I was 10 years old, I smoked a Pall Mall cigarette and I was sick for two days.' I said, 'No this is different.'"
Watch Ben talk about his dad by clicking on the video below.