If you read The New Yorker’s interview with Ben Stiller about his father, the late Jerry Stiller, but wanted more Jerry memories, this clip from Ben’s chat with Jimmy Fallon last night should do the trick. Ben, who had the unique experience of growing up with parents who were a famous comedy duo, looked back on some memories while chatting with Fallon, including the time the family played charades on Fallon’s show, the time Jerry attempted to get Ben’s stolen bicycle back for him but ultimately let the kid who stole it keep it, and another story Ben tells on a documentary that recently premiered on Netflix called Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. It’s a short story, but a sweet encapsulation of the kind of dad Jerry was for Ben.
It goes like this: Ben tried acid for the first (and only) time near the Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side, “got freaked out, scared, and my first instinct was ‘I’m gonna call my parents.’ ’Cause every kid calls his parents on LSD, right?” Stiller’s parents were both in Los Angeles filming an episode of The Love Boat at the time when Ben called and told his dad what was happening. “I could just hear the silence on the other end of the phone, ’cause I think it was just that feeling of Oh, I failed as a parent. And then the next thing he said was ‘It’s gonna be okay,’ and he started to talk me down even though he knew nothing about drugs. 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,’” Stiller said. “And I said, ‘No it’s not … This is different.’” The version of the story in Have a Good Trip is slightly different, with Stiller describing the terror of tripping while walking through giant inflated Thanksgiving Day Parade characters before calling his dad and also noting that, while his dad was far from an expert on bad trips, just being able to talk to him helped him that night: “He just said, ‘It’s gonna be okay,’ which actually was really sweet.” Consider this more than enough confirmation that Jerry Stiller, while not being an LSD expert, was definitely a good dad.