NBC News, reporting Jerry Stiller’s death, touts heaven

May 11, 2020 • 6:15 pm

The great comedian Jerry Stiller, who often performed with his wife Anne Meara, passed away this morning at age 92. Reporting on his life and comedy, NBC News finished the report with these words:

“Meara passed away five years ago. Now this legendary pair is laughing together again.”

Now if that isn’t a paean to togetherness in the afterlife, you tell me what it is. You might be able to confect a tortuous interpretation, like a Sophisticated Theologian®, but I see the words as a sop to the religious.

We are constantly inundated by these nods towards religion and religionists, and this is one of them. It sounds good, doesn’t it? But it’s a lie.

Let’s just watch them laugh together when they were alive. Here they are on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, with Meara trying to kiss off her ardent boyfriend.

26 thoughts on “NBC News, reporting Jerry Stiller’s death, touts heaven

    1. Haha I searched “Ben Stiller atheist” in Google as I suspected that Ben Stiller is an atheist and the first hits are all Sam Harris.

  1. It seemed more like NBC was paying obeisance to the craft that Stiller and Meara performed on the stage than any real promotion of Christian afterlife

    1. So that’s your nonreligious interpretation of “Now this legendary pair is laughing together again.” Note the words “Now” and “again”.
      I think you’re really stretching it here.

    2. You are correct.
      I am as strong an atheist, humanist, secularist as can be…and an not triggered or suspicious of the wording.
      Such per(s)nickety-ness is just jumping the shark.
      I DO get the objection…
      Still, sharks below…

      (lucky i am posting this in my safe space)

  2. Not sure whether Anne Meara was Jewish. But it does raise an interesting question if you believe in an afterlife. Do couples from mixed marriages reunite in the afterlife? Do Christian/Muslim wives have to put up with their martyred husbands raping virgins? Do you have to convert to go to your spouse’s heaven or do the Gods have a special Heaven for mixed religion marriages? What about Buddhists who believe in reincarnation. Do the partners get to be with their beloved in the next life?

    1. Per Wikipedia:

      Meara was born, baptised and raised a Roman Catholic. She converted to Judaism six years after marrying Stiller. She insisted that she did not convert at Stiller’s request, explaining, “Catholicism was dead to me.” She took her conversion seriously and studied the Jewish faith in such depth that her Jewish-born husband quipped, “Being married to Anne has made me more Jewish.”

    2. I believe the official Christian answer on mixed religious marriages is:
      1. The non-Christian goes to hell.
      2. The Christian goes to heaven, where they are eternally blissful and somehow don’t mind that their spouse is in hell.

      1. “. . .somehow doesn’t mind that their spouse is in hell.”

        There is a quote by some saint [I’ve been trying to find it, but can’t] that part of the joy of Heaven is watching sinners–including one’s parents and children–roasting for all eternity in Hell. You will rejoice to see these enemies of God getting what’s coming to them, even if they are family members.

        I’ve got joy, joy, joy down in my heart . . .

    3. If the Ancients are any indication, you are still pissed with your boyfriend in the after life and you get back together with your dead husband while giving the stink eye to your shit boyfriend. At least according to Dido & Aeneas.

  3. I agree 100%.

    Also, re:

    “The great comedian Jerry Stiller, … passed away ….”

    perhaps the “passed away” was needed to get the click to work.

    We all surely prefer just plain ‘died’.

    I’d even go further with ‘ceased to exist’.

    Even ‘went to oblivion’, if travelling is de rigeur.

    This getting to be John Cleese’s Norwegian Blue.

    Even Nansen didn’t get to eat any of them on the Hardanger Plateau, though he and Johannsen ate about a dozen polar bears, cooked with walrus grease, north of Siberia. They emerged from their 15 months, 1000 km trudge, on the north polar ice in 1895, weighing more than they had done to begin.

    My ‘jump topics’ mental peculiarity is back in high gear.

  4. The “together again” trope isn’t unusual in reports of recent deaths, with news outlets quoting the relatives or friends of the deceased expressing that erroneous belief. I can’t remember seeing a publisher saying it with their own voice though – that certainly crosses a line.

  5. -grin- even atheists want a bit of immortality. To me, Stiller and Meara will remain immortal so long as their art touches people. I watched that comedy skit just now and became a fan. That’s ‘after life’ enough for me.

  6. Both Stills and Meara were members of the Compass Players, an improvisational comedy troupe that started at the University of Chicago and lasted from 1955-58. Some of the members of Compass then went on to found The Second City. So the biggest influence in American and Canadian (watch SCTV) comedy since the 1950s. Who knew UofC could be so funny.

    The membership of Compass is astonishing – Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Shelly Berman, and many more.

  7. Let us get rid of this ridiculous term to pass away- what was he Messi? People die, it happens. I will die – I refuse to “pass away”! 😌

  8. It’s almost ingrained, Jerry. I wonder if the people who say it, as if by rote, actually believe it. I have a sister who, at Easter, is all over Facebook writing, “He is risen.” But I can’t recall the last time she was in a church.

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