Saturday, March 26, 2016

Garry Shandling (1949-2016)


Conan explains, at the start of his Thursday-evening taping, that he's spent the several hours since hearing about Garry trying to process the news. Then he offers this lovely personal reminiscence.

by Ken

Thursday, massive heart attack, 66.

If you want more facts, here's the NYT obit of this "Star of Groundbreaking Sitcoms," as he was headlined. I confess I haven't actually read the obit, but I have watched the above clip sent out by Conan O'Brien's team. And I watched this clip, also sent out by TeamCoco:


I mean, I have no idea how to explain the brilliance of Garry Shandling, as both writer and performer. So I've assembled some clips, and they maybe help, but I don't think they really do it. Fortunately, both of Garry's NYT-certified "groundbreaking" shows are available complete on DVD. Both involved assembling spectacular teams and what must have been exhausting work, both in conception and in detailing and execution.

From my periodic dippings-in, I can vouch that both look simply astonishing now. In fact, It's Garry Shandling's Show, which I hadn't seen since it aired originally at the time I bought the DVDs in the last year, looks more astonishing, with its surreally confounding overlapping layers of reality, than it did way back when. (This is partly owing to the special features, which give much insight into just how the show became what it was.) Together the shows constitute a remarkable legacy, and are also remarkable for the parade of talent, of both the up-and-coming and the established variety, passing through them.

It's Garry Shandling's Show
(four seasons, 1986-90)

A promotional clip from Shout Factory:

The Larry Sanders Show
(six seasons, 1992-98)

Some samples --

Oops! Somehow Bruno Kirby and Steven Wright have both been booked as the evening's "#1 Guest."

Before he was Entourage super-agent Ari Gold, even before he was Ellen's hapless pal Spence, Jeremy Piven put in two seasons (1992-93) as Larry Sanders Show writer Jerry Capen.

At commercial break, guest Robin Williams receives a trademark insta-boost from producer Artie (Rip Torn), then finds himself literally in the middle of tension between Larry and announcer Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor).

Guest host Dana Carvey gets utterly unsolicited advice from Hank, who turns out not to have such warm feelings toward Dana.


In 1989, Garry tells Dave about hooking up with President George H.W. Bush.

And First Lady Barbara Bush "introduces" Garry to visiting royalty as "Funny man! Funny man!"

In 1990, Garry and Dave start by reminiscing about it.

In 2007, during Garry's first visit in ten years, Dave says, "I think it's important that we get together once a decade."


And recalled, among other things:


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At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Ken, I've seen the Conan clip, what a guy.
I'm saving the rest for later, I really liked Shandling.


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