Jerry Seinfeld spent a few minutes memorializing his late Seinfeld co-star Jerry Stiller, who died on Monday at the age of 92. On Thursday's episode of What a Joke with Papa & Fortune on SiriusXM's Netflix Is a Joke Radio, Seinfeld opened up about what it was like to work with Stiller, who played Jason Alexander's on-screen dad, Frank Costanza.
Seinfeld, 66, said that writer Larry Charles continuously suggested that Stiller play George Costanza's (Alexander) dad. "I remember Stiller and Meara from the '60s, but I hadn't seen Jerry in a while and I just didn't — and I thought, well, but he's not bald," Seinfeld said, in reference to Alexander. "But Larry just kept mentioning him and finally we brought him in."
He went on to explain that Stiller was "so perfect" for the role and brought "amazing comedic stuff" to the hit series. "Those packages of just Jerry Stiller bits on my show are so unbelievably funny. What I loved about him is he so completes the George story. When you meet the father, you go, 'Oh, now I understand why he's like that,'" Seinfeld said. "It was the perfect finishing of the painting of George Costanza was Frank Costanza. He had the most amazing comedic stuff."
He also revealed that sometimes, "we didn't know if he was planning it or it just came out that way, or he couldn't remember the line, or we didn't know what it was." And instead of interfering, Seinfeld said the TV crew "did not want to disturb it in any way."
"We never gave Jerry Stiller a note. I never adjusted his performance once. Whatever he did, that's it. We're putting that out there," he continued. "I don't know why he did it like that. I don't know why he screamed on that line. It doesn't matter. It's funny. So funny. I am such a dedicated believer in if it's funny, don't touch it. I don't care why it's funny. I don't care what the line was supposed to be. He said it that way, we're doing it that way."
Stiller's son Ben Stiller confirmed his death earlier this week, writing on social media that his father "passed away from natural causes." After the news broke, many of Stiller's co-stars from Seinfeld and The King of Queens paid tribute. Alexander, 60, called his TV dad "a great actor, a great man, a lovely friend."
"Such sad news that my beloved friend, Jerry Stiller, has passed. He was perhaps the kindest man I ever had the honor to work beside," he wrote. "He made me laugh when I was a child and every day I was with him. A great actor, a great man, a lovely friend. #RIPJerryStiller I Love you."
Seinfeld also shared a tribute, posting a photo of himself holding Stiller and wife Anne Meara's 1967 comedy album The Last Two People in the World. "Jerry Stiller's comedy will live on forever," he later tweeted.
Kevin James, who starred alongside Stiller in The King of Queens for the show's duration, called Stiller "one of the most kind, loving, and funny people to ever grace this earth. Thank you for so many incredible memories. I love you and miss you. Requiescat in pace."