conan archives

Revisit the Time Jerry Stiller Crashed His Son’s Conan Interview in 1996

You can count on Team Coco to upload the perfect vintage Late Night With Conan O’Brien clip to pay tribute to the late Jerry Stiller this week. The clip is from a Late Night episode in 1996 when Ben Stiller was making the rounds promoting The Cable Guy, but instead of doing a typical interview with O’Brien, Stiller took advantage of the fact that his parents were a legendary comedy duo and brought them into the bit — the bit being that Ben was too sick to do the interview, and his choice to show up for all of the late-night hosts except Conan made Jerry very upset. So upset, in fact, that Jerry not only expressed his embarrassment to Conan (“As a member of the acting profession, I find this is a disgrace! … This is a personal reflection on me as an actor. I mean, how did I bring my kid up?!”) but dragged Ben out from his sick bed and out to Conan’s studio to fulfill his professional duty. (Anne Meara takes Ben’s side in the fight, telling her son, “Honey, pay no attention. Your father’s not a well man.”)

What follows is a six-minute interview with O’Brien and both of the Stillers in which Jerry is constantly micromanaging Ben: “‘Funny stuff.’ All right, tell some funny stuff! … That’s not the way to tell a funny thing. You wanna tell a funny thing? Tell a joke! You do a joke! There’s a way to do these things. There’s a way to tell a story and you get to the point — you go from A to B to C to D until you get there!” After you watch the whole clip, you’ve got to hand it to Jerry — the guy knew how to land a joke.

Watch Jerry Stiller Crash His Son’s Conan Interview in 1996