Ben Stiller, whose father, comedic titan Jerry Stiller passed away last week at the age of 92, went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night to honor his late father’s impact on comedy and on pop culture writ large. Stiller talked at length about how supportive his dad was going to see his shows and helping him navigate the comedy and show business world, which he had done for decades alongside wife and comedic partner Anne Meara. He also talked about how he once called his dad when he was 16 and having a very, very, very bad acid trip.
“I got freaked out, scared, and my first instinct was, ‘I’m going to call my parents.’” So he rang up his dad — who was filming in Los Angeles — and they had a hilarious, and heartwarming, conversation. “I could hear the silence on the other end of the phone,” he said, “because I think he [had] that feeling of, like, ‘I failed as a parent.’ The next thing he said was ‘It’s going to be okay.’”
Then he said his dad tried to relate to him to help talk him down from the bad high he was experiencing. “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.’” You can almost hear Jerry Stiller’s voice on the other end of the line, saying that. While smoking a cigarette and tripping on LSD are two different experiences, the moment is clearly a treasured memory of Stiller’s, to the point where he’d tell it to Jimmy Fallon as a way he remembers his dad.
Plus, it may speak to the type of relationship that Ben had with his father. Not many 16-year-olds would think to call their parents when having a bad experience with a serious drug, but apparently, Jerry Stiller was the man to call.