Ben Stiller made big news yesterday when he announced that he and his production company Red Hour Digital would be developing an array of web shorts, including an animated spinoff of what I personally feel is his crowning comedic achievement, the 2001 film Zoolander.
I’ve gotten less excited about celebrities making web video content over the past few years, because no matter how funny or talented someone might be, it’s often clear that the web is a foreign platform to them. However, with Stiller I’m psyched, because he and Red Hour have proven their Internet savvy with the web series Stiller & Meara, which has been running on Yahoo (s YHOO) for the last five weeks.
The show features Stiller’s parents, comedy icons Anna Meara and Jerry Stiller, gabbing about pop culture and current events. Episode 1, which ostensibly discusses Facebook and The Social Network, goes right into whether or not Meara still ovulates (answer: no). In Episode 2, they refer to Snooki from Jersey Shore as a “troll.” Each episode, in short, is just like listening to your culturally out-of-touch parents talk for two minutes — if your parents were comedy legends.
Ben Stiller’s title in the credits is “Directed” By, and the quotes around “Directed” do a nice job of indicating just how much control Stiller (and additional director Daniel Strange) has over his cast.
But it’s that unstructured feeling which makes the show work, actually. Meara and Stiller aren’t actively trying to be funny — they’re just sitting down and talking. But their experience as comedy partners and partners in life gives them truly inspiring chemistry. It’s perfectly packaged web entertainment: Short, fun, topical and distinctive.
New episodes premiere every Tuesday, and according to a Yahoo representative there is a commitment in place for a run of 25 episodes. The animated Zoolander, which is being produced for Paramount Digital Entertainment, (s VIA) is TBD.
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