The following is a transcript of the Ben Stiller Show reunion, presented in Aspen, Colorado in March 1999. We have the considerate staff of MTV Networks for providing us with this exclusive, entertaining and um, unique slice of comedy history.
[CLIP SHOWN: “THE BEN STILLER SHOW: BEHIND THE MUSIC”]
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Andy Richter. [applause and laughter as Richter enters in loud ski outfit, with furry boots.]
ANDY RICHTER: Thank you, Thank you very much. I just got in today and I could not wait to get into some comfortable clothes, and start kicking it Aspen style. Thank you. Thank you.
In talking to people today, around town, I started to get a little nervous about this because I got the impression that people are thinking that tonight’s program is some kind of joke.
You know, like, “Oh, that show was on for about five minutes seven years ago, I mean, a reunion, it’s got to be a joke.” No way. We’re deadly serious about this. And you know, think of this as the little tribute show, the little horseshit tribute show that could. We can be just as self aggrandizing as a real reunion. And we can auto-fellate with the best of them. [laughter]
And as proof, we’re going to Show a bunch of clips, obviously. The first clip package – you know we could have called it, “Highlights,” or “Some Favorites.” We’re calling it “The Greatest Hits.” The show was on for 12 weeks. [laughter] The audacity, the brass. But here they are, “The Greatest Hits.”
[CLIP SHOWN: “BEN STILLER SHOW”: GREATEST HITS]
RICHTER: Okay, let’s introduce the two guys in charge of this show: Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow. Come on out, guys. [applause] How you doing?
BEN STILLER: All right. How’s it going?
RICHTER: If you guys don’t mind. could you wear these? [hands them name tag tags] ‘Cause it would really- it would just help me out a lot.
STILLER: It’s so funny, Andy, I’m so used to sitting like this. [Facing away, as if sitting on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” as a guest]
RICHTER: I know. I know. And I can see the stars, too, when we sit like that.
RICHTER: Oh, guys, how did you two meet, to get started doing this show?
STILLER: We met – I’ve been developing a show with Jeff Kahn this other writer who worked on the show, for like a year, over a year at Fox. Which we had done a show at MTV before, that was also called, “The Ben Stiller Show.” And that got canceled after 13 episodes.
STILLER: Yeah. So–
RICHTER: You’re poison. [laughter]
STILLER: Yup. So we thought, yeah, why don’t we do that on Fox. And so we — I guess we did the MTV show… [looking at Andy] are you alright’?
RICHTER: I just – my mike has gone somewhere. [laughter]
JUDD APATOW: You must be getting hot.
RICHTER: Yeah, I thought this sweater was a great idea. Up until about five minutes ago.
STILLER: Anyway, so we did this- –
STILLER: — on the MTV show we did-
RICHTER: Wail, wait, wait [fumbling for mic]
STILLER: — one episode where my character wanted to get a show on Fox, We did a bunch of parodies of Fox shows. And Fox saw that and said, “Oh, that was funny, why don’t you come and develop a real show for us?”
STILLER: And then that took like a year. And we just went around in circles, because they wanted to have a sketch show, but they wanted to have a storyline also.
RICHTER: But it was a different concept–
STILLER: This was before I met Judd.
RICHTER: Oh, this is before?
STILLER: Yeah, yeah.
STILLER: And it was like – the ideas was like I worked in a laundromat that was also a video store, and I – yeah, it was horrible. [laughs] And we went into sketches, so it was like a story about this guy. It was just bad, it didn’t work. There was a reason I think why there aren’t sketch shows that have storylines in them.
STILLER: They just really don’t work.
STILLER: So, we tried that for a year, and then it failed, and they basically said, you know, that’s it. And then I met Judd at this Elvis Costello Unplugged concert, in line. Right? And then two days –
APATOW: I was just distracted by Andy’s boots.
STILLER: Yeah. They’re nice.
RICHTER: Nice kitty. [stroking his boots]
STILLER: And so we – what happened? We met and we didn’t know – we just had mutual friends. And then two days later we got together and talked about putting – we didn’t really know each other…
STILLER: — and we started to talk about doing a show together.
RICHTER: What was it about meeting Judd that sort of reinvigorated the show? Or the plans to do the show?
APATOW: I couldn’t got a job at the time.
STILLER: He was a stand-up comedian and he was doing like…
APATOW: I was opening up on the road for Jim Carrey, and every night I would watch him and just think, “Oh my God, I’m never going to be that good, ever.” And I was really depressed, and I wrote specs for “The Simpsons” and “Get A Life.” And I couldn’t get a job anywhere in town, so I wrote these three Tom Arnold specials. And clearly Ben knew the man he wanted from seeing those. [laughter]
APATOW: And so, my enthusiasm to get a job.
STILLER: But it was really strange because we just got together, we didn’t know each other, and we said, why don’t we just do a straight-on sketch show. And we thought of people who we knew who we’d all been hanging out with who were funny: Janeane, and–
STILLER: –Bob Odenkirk…’Cause I’d been on “Saturday Night Live” for like five weeks in 1989, as a writer and Bob had been working there. I met Andy Dick in Chicago in 1988, and Janeane I’d met out in L.A. when I moved out there around 1990.
APATOW: Didn’t you like make out with her, or something?
STILLER: Yeah, I did.
RICHTER: Well, that’s sort of the story between you two, too.
RICHTER: Yeah. [laughter] Elvis Costello Unplugged, what else–
STILLER: That’s right.
RICHTER: –are you going to do but make out, [laughter] you know.