Inside ‘The Ben Stiller Show’s 20 Year Reunion

The cast and crew of The Ben Stiller Show reunited at The Paley Center in New York this weekend, celebrating the short-lived but influential Fox series’ 20 year anniversary. The panel included co-creators Ben Stiller and Judd Apatow, cast members Andy Dick and Janeane Garofalo, and writers Rob Cohen and Jeff Kahn, with cast member/writer Bob Odenkirk appearing via Skype. The Comic’s Comic reports that Garofalo and Cohen announced the annulment of their fake marriage at the panel. The two, who were dating at the time, married each other at a Las Vegas drive-thru wedding chapel as a gag 20 years ago and recently got it annulled so that Cohen can have a serious, real wedding with his fiancée, Jimmy Kimmel producer Jill Leiderman. Apatow and Stiller discussed the initial premise for the show, which involved Stiller playing a college film professor who presents short films for his students, with guest lecturers also coming in. They eventually went with the low-key framing device of Ben Stiller just talking plainly to the camera. “It was the opposite of Mr. Show. Not in any way inventive,” admitted Apatow. The gang also praised Bob Odenkirk’s Manson/Lassie sketch as the show’s funniest, which is a compliment that probably sounds better in person than over Skype. Stiller Show was the first TV credit for Apatow, who says he’d only written two spec scripts prior to working there (one for The Simpsons and one for Get a Life). “I literally had no skills. I was just scared much of the time,” revealed Apatow, and is something that should be comforting and relatable to all the world’s struggling young comedy writers.

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