They don’t mind Donald Trump but only because he has openly declared to be a fan of their son, Ben Stiller. They watch Jon Stewart and his Daily Show religiously, they can’t go for a walk unless they have music to listen to in their headphones, they never stop laughing with each other and agree to disagree on whether they used to like Ed Sullivan or not. After all, they did land 36 appearances on his show, so no matter how intimidating the man might have been, there are a lot of things that still made him likeable.
Now 85 year-old, Jerry Stiller, and 83 year-old, Anne Meara, make every other showbiz couple look boring and plastic. The New York comedy duo first became successful back in the 1960s with stand-up acts in the Greenwich Village bars and then later with television programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show and numerous TV and radio commercials. Their Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle sketches and their debut LP Presenting America’s New Comedy Sensation: Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara Live At The Hungry I made the duo the most dynamic comedy team of early 1960s New York. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show and The Merv Griffin Show featured Stiller and Meara in numerous occasions as the decade reached its end and then sketch shows (such as Take Five With Stiller And Meara and The Paul Lynde Show) was what characterized the 1970s for the team. The 1980s were welcomed by Stiller and Meara hosting HBO Sneak Previews, a show in which they presented upcoming films and television programs in their own highly comical and special way. 1986 brought their own sitcom titled The Stiller And Meara Show. Not quite as successful as their previous works, but still hilarious to this day, the program featured Stiller as the mayor of New York and Meara as a commercial actress.
Although in 1993 Stiller landed his most memorable and funniest role with Seinfeld, the award-winning portrayer of raging Frank Costanza still admits to have been getting all his inspiration from his wife. His 2001 memoir Married To Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara, talks about their comedy as a team which was chiefly born out of their background differences. Coming from two very different ethnic groups and religions, Stiller and Meara pushed their strong dissimilarities to the limit and the contrast between Jewish culture and the Irish Catholic way of life has never before this comedy duo been so hilarious. And although Anne Meara did convert to Judaism once the two of them were married, still the material was undoubtedly abundant and they never hesitated to use it to its extreme. Together they formed a new and very different comedy style that greatly affected both cinema and television. A style that was born out of differences but also a style that loved borrowing, copying, completing and finding each other somewhere in the middle, lovingly and of course hilariously.
Although Anne focused more on playwriting in her career and Jerry on TV sitcoms (The King Of Queens, Seinfeld) and writing, both of them appeared in numerous films. In many of them, they acted alongside their son, Ben Stiller and daughter, Amy Stiller. The comedy masterpiece Zoolander is definitely the family’s most unforgettable get-together on the big screen. With Ben being the “really really ridiculously good-looking” male model Derek Zoolander and Amy playing Hansel’s assistant, Jerry takes on the role of Maury Ballstein and offers an extremely witty performance that everyone remembers just as much as David Bowie supervising the unforgettable walk-off. Anne Meara is uncredited as one of the protestors, but again she’s very hard to miss when throwing the egg at Mugatu, the fashion mogul who brainwashes Derek Zoolander in order to get him to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister…
In other words, this comedy duo has plenty of time for the bizarre and absurd, with a silly surface and a great deal of intelligence hidden underneath. The older they get, the more they go for it and everything they say and do in their routines and performances looks simple and makes no sense, but after a closer look, it kind of makes all the sense in the world. And when they are asked what exactly it is that they do for a living, they both reply that they pretty much write down what the other person is saying. They find each other very funny, so all they need to do is interact and more new comedy is born. And this is how 60 years of domestic happiness, possibly for the first time ever, has been translated into success in show business, an area that is known to only break relationships.
Laugh-out-loud funny but always brutally honest in everything they say and do Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara have been and still are no doubt the funniest, most authentic and passionate couple in the entertainment industry. They make Hollywood look good and give show business that certain morality and class it has always lacked.