It’s been a truly rotten year for the untimely passing of outrageous talents within the entertainment industry, and we haven’t even reached April. Added to the sad roll-call of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey and Terry Wogan, is the comedy genius that was Garry Shandling (1949 – 2016).
As someone who got into comedy far quicker than music, films and radio and chat shows, it’s also the one that hit among the hardest. Even before I knew how much he influenced the comedic landscape that followed, I simply loved The Larry Sanders Show, the comedic masterpiece he co-created, wrote and starred in.
Having first heard about it through one of the countdown lists about the best sitcoms ever, I was curious. And I was hooked straight away into the world of Larry Sanders and his chat show of famous guests. Larry with his fake sincerity and fragile ego, his sidekick Hank with his burning ambition and semi-simmering resentment and their producer Artie, who was all smiles even when his job was at its ugliest.
The difference in chaos of egos and insecurities that was different in front and behind the screen was exploited in a way I’d never seen before. Especially as celebrities were on board, happy to blur the lines between fact and fiction. And boy, was it sharp, insightful and funny.
It has been easy to see how much between that show, and his previous one (It’s Garry Shandling’s Show) changed so much of comedy that followed. As well as commentary on fame and celebrities themselves, there was his breaking of the fourth wall, lack of a laughter track, using both videotape and film to showcase the live and behind the scenes footage, the “walk and talk” through long corridors and overall post-modern tone. This means that every show from The West Wing, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Community, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, The Thick of It and The Office owes a big debt of gratitude.
As do we all. Farewell Garry Shandling. Thank you for what you left us behind.
Rest in peace, Gary
A very sad loss.
I hadn’t heard this yet. That sucks. I too loved the Larry Sanders Show. Sorry to hear this. 😦
Alchemic gold. Just magical. Incredible satire and one of the best shows ever. And just brilliant at capturing office politics. https://alexraphael.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-acrostic-name-game/
Plainly put, this year has been bullshit.
It’s been dreadful. So many nice guys with outrageous talent and they’re all falling away.
I was never a big fan of his, but no denying he jad a certain charm to him that was easy to root for. RIP, Gary.
That video with Ricky Gervais didn’t help, though he did explain it later. He always had time for other comics which was nice.
We’ve lost so much talent this year. The Larry Sanders Show was one of my favourites for a long time and Shandling was a comedic genius and innovator.
I know. It really was a golden period for comedy, one we’ve not come close to matching since. It’s incredible to think one man could influence the comedic landscape so much.
Thank you for creating this post, Alex. I LOVED “The Larry Sanders Show” and many other Garry Shandling creations.
I’ll be doing a further post on him at some point. This was just an attempt at a few words explaining why his death really has saddened me. Especially as he hadn’t been active much for a long time.
Man it’s another sad week w/ yet another actor gone too soon. Shandling was a comic genius, he’s even hilarious in his brief scenes in Captain America. He will be missed.
Very. He achieved so much so young.
Very sad. I watched bill maher talk a little about Gary on his show the other night. It was touching.
He really did have some really touching words said about him. I like how he hosted a basketball game at his house every Sunday. Nice tradition.
Oh you saw it. 🙂 I like that too about him.