Today is the late Garry Shandling’s birthday – he was a comedic master!
RIP Garry Shandling!
The entertainment industry was shocked by the sudden death of Comedian Garry Shandling. It caused an outpouring of grief among some of the biggest names in the business, but for those who aren’t as familiar with Shandling’s impact on entertainment and comedy, here are some highlights from his career I wanted to share.
Shandling began his career as a writer on shows like “Sanford and Son” and “Welcome Back, Kotter”.
His breakout moment, like so many others, was thanks to the “King Of Late Night”, Johnny Carson.
Shandling made his standup debut on “The Tonight Show”, and he wowed Johnny, leading to incredible success. Here is an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in 1981:
As you can see, Shandling had impeccable timing, and hilarious jokes. Johnny loved him, and Shandling was for a time considered the leading contender to replace Carson!
In 1986, he created “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” for Showtime. This was a time when cable offered very few original shows, and Shandling’s unique approach to comedy was hilarious.
The show was a huge critical success, and was nominated for four Emmy Awards. Among the many groundbreaking aspects of the show was that Garry routinely broke the “fourth wall” and spoke directly to the audience during the show!
Here’s a promo for “It’s Garry Handling’s Show”:
The Brilliant “Larry Sanders!”
In 1992, Shandling turned his eye toward hosting his own late night talk show…not as a Host, but as the creator and star of “The Larry Sanders Show” – where he played a fictional late night talk show host!
One of the most iconic lines in television has become “Hey Now!”, the catchphrase used by Larry’s on-air sidekick, Hank Kingsley…that part was brilliant played by Jeffrey Tambor…here is a great clip from the show when Larry asks Hank about the origin of the phrase!
Hank Kingsley is a “spot on” parody of Johnny Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon – taken to it extreme. In fact, on one episode, Ed dropped in and the two sidekicks did a “Hey Now!” and “Hey-oooooh!” duet that was classic.
Here are some of Hank’s best moments from the show:
Rip Torn, Jeremy Piven and Janeane Garofalo were also members of the ensemble. Shandling was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards for the show and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 1998, along with Peter Tolan, for writing the series finale.
Big name stars loved to come on the “fake” talk show, because they could show you what it was like behind-the-scenes. Here is a classic moment from season one when Robin Williams was a guest…in this scene, his guest appearance is marred by an off-screen fight between Larry and Hank:
“I Saw Your Balls”!
Legendary Comedian Carol Burnett also had a hysterical cameo…the set up was simple: she was appearing as a Guest, and came in early to shoot a skit…it didn’t go well – you see, Larry was playing Tarzan, and his outfit was a bit TOO revealing, as Carol reveals to Larry during a commercial break:
Shandling produced a “best of” DVD set that included a ton of great new material, and told candid stories about the show…it’s a terrific series that is worth seeking out!
During his 3-decade career, Shandling was nominated for 19 Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards, along with many other awards and nominations. He also served as host of the Grammy Awards four times and as host of the Emmy Awards three times.
The Kings Of Late Night!
I love this picture: Carson with his two “heir apparents”, Jay Leno and David Letterman, with a fictional late night Host between them! “Larry Sanders” was an insightful and hilarious look at the cut=throat world of late night talk…
In real life, it was even MORE ruthless! If you want to read more about the battle to succeed Johnny Carson as the “King Of Late Night”, click here:
Shandling’s work will live forever as soon of the most hilariously inventive comedy ever made…RIP Garry!