Better (and Less Bitter) Than the Costanzas

Before there was “Seinfeld,” there was Stiller and Meara. Now the comedy couple is back with a funny web show that’s a lot more than $#*! Ben’s Parent Say.

Tuesday feels a lot Festivus these days. That’s because each Tuesday brings another webisode of the “Stiller & Meara” show.

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara are back with a funny new show on Yahoo, that’s a lot more than just $#*! Ben’s Parent Say.

The short segments, with the octogenarians bantering on a loveseat, have a bit of a “When Harry Met Sally” feel. But just when you think it’s all sweetness and nostalgia, the duo tear off some great one-liners (and some airing of the grievances):

•Meara on Snooki: “She’s like a munchkin. She has a big knob on the top of her head like a tumor.” Stiller: “She’s looking for her guido, that’s all I know.”

•Meara on whether Tony Curtis came onto her in acting school decades ago: “No, I still had my rosary beads wrapped around my legs.”

•Stiller on the Internet: “Somebody invented Facebook? What kind of person would that be?”

You can almost hear echoes of Frank Costanza in his exasperation (“Serenity now!”).

But Stiller and Meara are a far cry from the bickering Costanzas of "Seinfeld," the program Jerry Stiller probably is best known for in recent years. Stiller and Meara rose to prominence in the early 1960s as comedy team with their smart humor, built in part around that he’s short and Jewish, she’s tall and Irish Catholic – and that they clearly love one another amid all the teasing.

Even if Stiller and Meara take jabs at the Internet, they – and son Ben, who directs some the segments – recognize the web gives them a platform to reach an audience that wasn’t born when they were wowing crowds everywhere from nightclubs to “The Ed Sullivan Show.” (“I was going to join Spacebook, but too many of my friends are dead,” quips Stiller.)

Some classic Sullivan clips are on the couple’s website, which is quickly becoming our Tuesday habit. Go here and check out the videos posted so far – consider them Stiller and Meara’s early Festivus present to us.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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