Friday, March 25, 2016
GARRY SHANDLING DIES AT 66
2016 continues to collect our favorites. Yesterday Garry Shandling died from a massive heart attack at age 66. His TV appearances were always guaranteed to leave me in stitches, and the odds are that if you grew up in the 80s we shared a similar opinion of his comedy. It's a big reason why Paul Feig and Judd Apatow chose to have Bill watching an appearance of Shandling on TV during a memorable (like there is any other kind) episode of Freaks and Geeks.
Shandling was also one of those guys that seemed to be a real comedian's comedian. Recently he appeared on an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with the unfortunate title "It's Great That Garry Shandling is Still Alive". In it Jerry and Garry go to a bunch of their old comedy haunts and tell amazing stories about coming up in comedy. Garry even shares THE MOMENT when he was tapped to go on The Tonight Show, which was like getting touched by the hand of Comedy God in that era.
Garry Shandling also made an incredible impact on episodic television with two very influential shows. The first was It's Garry Shandling's Show which turned the sitcom on its ear and was meta about 20 years before everything became meta. Within the first few seconds of the first episode he was breaking the fourth wall, and the theme song was a masterpiece of self awareness.
I can't find any full episodes of It's Garry Shandling's Show online, but there are several episodes of Garry's next big program available. The Larry Sanders show came about at a time when the world of late night talk shows was exploding and filled with controversy. It seemed like everyone was getting a show, and the politics between the different programs was a major entertainment news topic. The Larry Sanders show poked major fun at that environment in a very realistic way, and its style influenced generations of TV programs, not just in comedy but across genres. As Splitsider put it, "Your favorite comedy exists because of The Larry Sanders show". Here's the first episode. Please excuse the copyright dodging pitchiness.
Splitsider just reported today that Shandling had made a deal with HBO to bring the original episodes of The Larry Sanders Show back to HBO for broadcast and on demand availability. No idea when that will begin, but be sure to watch the show. It's great stuff.
As a bonus, here's a touching clip from last night's Conan show, where Conan O'Brien tells a story about how Garry got him through one of the darkest periods of his life. Try not to be moved, you cold hearted fiend!