An Ode To Frank Costanza, Jerry Stiller’s Masterpiece

The late Jerry Stiller passed away this week due to natural causes, his son has confirmed. Stiller lead a fantastic career, first breaking into stardom as a comedic duo with his wife Anne Meara, before mounting a comeback later in life with his character Frank Costanza, on the acclaimed sitcom ‘Seinfeld’.

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It wasn’t until his death that I realised that Jerry Stiller was the father of actor Ben Stiller. To me, he has always been the grumpy, eccentric father of George Costanza. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you will know what I mean when I say that Frank Costanza was one of the most iconic, hilarious and ridiculous characters to ever bless our screens. If not, then take a look at some of his best moments below.

The Serenity now (9.03)

“Serenity now, insanity later”

Perhaps the most iconic and certainly the most quotable moment from Stiller’s character; if not the whole series. The catchphrase is a calming technique Frank’s doctor recommends to reduce his stress levels. George’s parents are both incredibly tightly wound, so when his father first yells the line- confusion ensues. Partly due to the fact that a calming technique probably shouldn’t be yelled at the top of your lungs. The phrase becomes a reoccurring joke in the final season, long after Frank has reverted to his natural predisposition; which is a tightly wound ball of stress.


The Strike (9.10)

“Festivus for the rest of us”

Every year, on the 23rd of December, one word is consistently trending worldwide. Festivus. The fact that the episode in which it first appeared (“The Strike”) premiered 22 years ago is a testament to the effect Stiller’s character has had on the zeitgeist. Festivus is a holiday created by Frank Costanza as an alternative celebration in response to the commercialisation of Christmas. In true Costanza family style, the holiday include practices such as the “airing of grievances”, in which everyone takes turns telling the other guests how they have let them down that year. Probably not surprising, Festivus has become an actual holiday that people celebrate today.


The Raincoats (5.18 & 5.19)

“We don’t care for the Costanza’s”

In my opinion, the best episode of the series. Stiller really shines in this episode, showcasing just how irritating Frank’s character is as he somehow manages to alienate every other character in the sitcom. The Costanza’s are bewildered as to why Jerry’s parents don’t “care for them”, all the while yelling and bickering about it at the top of their lungs.


The Junk Mail (9.05)

“I’m sorry George, We’re cutting you lose”

Part of what makes Stiller’s character so fantastic is the dynamic he shares with his Wife, Estelle. They certainly went through their ups and downs in the series,  but they are a united team when it matters the most. Like when you dump your deadbeat son. George often complains about the amount of attention and energy his parents demand from him, but it comes full circle in the ninth season they finally let slip that he is actually the clingy one. “This is suppose to be our time” Frank says after being caught out ditching his son twice now. This is a brilliant revelation as it undermines the perception framed by George for the first eight seasons.


The Doorman (6.17)

“A brazier for a man, the manzier”

This episode is certainly one of the more ridiculous episodes from the acclaimed series, but that is not a bad thing. Frank and Estelle are going through a separation so he moves in with George. At which point it is revealed that Frank has large breasts. Of course, the only logical course of action is for Frank and Kramer to go into business together, selling mens bras. Right?? Well that’s exactly what happened. Cue a ridiculous plot that will you in stitches.


Frank Costanza was a fabulous character, but the reaction from the Seinfeld cast indicate that Jerry Stiller was an even better man.

Stiller brought so much to the role of Frank Costanza. He truly made the character something special, and he will be remembered long past his passing. Thank you Jerry Stiller, for all the laughs.

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