As the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival got into full swing here Thursday, the buzz began to rise in anticipation of who and what would prove hot over the ensuing several days.
The whispers tended to favor Ron Silver’s one-man show “Bill Graham Presents,” in which Silver portrays the famed rock ‘n’ roll impresario; the Doug Liman-directed feature “Go” starring Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf; and the world premiere feature “Suckers” featuring one-time “Murder One” star Daniel Benzali.
There was also a surprising amount of energy surrounding a dead TV sketch comedy series that had a mere half-year run on Fox during the 1992-93 season. Then again, “The Ben Stiller Show” seems to be a program that simply will not die.
Not only did the show that introduced the world to Stiller, Janeane Garofalo and Andy Dick win a surprise Emmy award during its only season, it is also fondly remembered as a wildly creative launching pad for performers who have gone on to great fame in the film and TV worlds.
Not bad for a show that was an unmitigated bomb and survived for a mere dozen episodes. Its cast, as well as co-creator and writer Judd Apatow, reunite in Aspen tonight in a session entitled “The Ben Stiller Show Speaks Out.”
“It’s kind of bizarre to me to see how we have enjoyed this weird afterlife,” Stiller said. “But you know, I’m still waiting to get a call from the head of the network telling us we’re canceled. I’ve still never received that call.”
But Stiller admits that this ongoing attention is “very flattering … I’m proud of the fact we were able to do a lot of pretty good shows. I like to think we could have upped our quality if we’d gotten the chance.”
Garofalo, however, downplays any ongoing love and devotion engendered by the show. “The general public has no idea there ever was a ‘Ben Stiller Show,’ ” she maintained. “It’s not like people are asking me about it all the time. It’s really just us in the industry who give a (hoot).”
Garofalo was at the festival to try out new standup material as well as to bask in the glow of the late “Stiller Show.” Other renowned standups due to make ap-pearances at USCAF included Kathy Griffin, Jerry Seinfeld (accepting an award on Saturday) and Cathy Ladman.