Laughing Matters: The Ben Stiller Show, “Low Budget Tales of Cliched Horror”

Sometimes comedy illuminates hard truths with a pointed urgency that other means can’t quite achieve. Sometimes comedy is just funny. This series of posts is mostly about the former instances, but the latter is valuable, too.

I swear I’m not going to make this recurring feature into nothing but a showcase for comedy sketches from The Ben Stiller Show.

Well, I’ll try not to. That might be a more realistic promise.

I spent much of today gradually, reluctantly coming down from the high of being on the radio at my broadcasting alma mater, WWSP-90FMWWSP-90FM, the student-run radio station at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. My mental acuity dulled and wistfully directed elsewhere, I flailed around a bit for what to put here in my little corner of the digital world today. Eventually, I started thinking of instances of radio in pop culture, for which I’ve long had a strong affinity. Seeing a radio station turn up in a movie or a television show, no matter how ridiculously, always gave me a little thrill.

That joy included the sketch “Low Budget Tales of Cliched Horror” on The Ben Stiller Show, even though the radio setting was hardly the target of the satire. Instead, it expertly mocks the syndicated horror anthology television series that were weirdly prominent for a stretch in the late-nineteen-eighties and early-nineteen-nineties. And it takes a little swipe at Talk Radio while it’s at it, which I also greatly appreciated at the time.

And he’s actually wearing headphones while on the air, a detail most visual depictions of the medium opt to omit. It’s no wonder I enjoy it as much as I do.