In his youth, Fletcher compiled a collection of 300 VHS tapes carefully documenting the years 1996-2007 across terrestrial and satellite. His parents would prefer he had not.

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A reluctantly single yuppie inadvertently befriends the lonely oddball who installed his cable. An over-the-hill male model is brainwashed into a political assassination. A band of pampered actors marooned in jungle begin to live their roles for real.

Through these diverse premises, director Ben Stiller has sculpted accessibly silly Hollywood comedies that at the same time function as densely detailed, slyly subversive satires of a self-involved American culture at media overload.

In the second edition of our 90s Comedian series, Luke and Fletcher step into The Electronic Labyrinth to reflect on the first two decades of Stiller’s career as a filmmaker: from his early shorts and sketch shows, through the relative success of Reality Bites and relative failure of The Cable Guy, past his now revered cult classic Zoolander, to his magnificent, go-for-broke masterwork, Tropic Thunder.

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Further listening: our first edition of 90s Comedian, in which we discussed Jim Carrey, and our overview of the Mission: Impossible franchise, where buried deep within you’ll find the Stiller-Cruise takeoff we mentioned this issue.

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