In the second season of The Larry Sanders Show, the character Larry confides in his producer Artie that he discovered a woman he used to date having sex with Alec Baldwin. She was on top.
“That lazy bastard,” Artie said.
If Seinfeld didn’t exist, the sitcom whose lines white people would annoyingly recite all the time would be Larry Sanders.
It was the pinnacle of a career that saw Garry Shandling, its creator and star, become the permanent guest host of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Shandling would help make stand-up comedy more conversational, and avoid the late-night wars everyone assumed he was destined to join with a satire that decimated the genre of “middle-aged white guy in average suit telling jokes and talking to celebrities in the middle of the night.”
The writer, actor and filmmaker died on Thursday shortly after a 911 call was made from his home in Los Angeles. He was 66 years old and hilarious.
You shouldn’t be allowed to be as funny as Garry Shandling and still die.
“He taught a generation of performers and filmmakers that it was possible to balance daring formal experimentation with character-based comedy that saw through people’s delusions, even as it showed compassion for their loneliness and craving for validation,” Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz wrote. “He made the kind of comedy you could barely stand to look at because it was so mercilessly acute, and that you couldn’t look away from because it accurately reflected the harshest truths of human interaction.”
Encouraged by George Carlin, who read a monologue he wrote while still a college student, Shandling got a degree in electrical engineering, the funniest sort of engineering, and moved to Los Angeles from Arizona in 1973 where he wrote scripts for Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter before becoming a stand up.
His first TV series It’s Garry Shandling’s Show was the most self-aware comedy in the history of television, with a theme song that explained that it was a theme song, a golf cart that was supposed to be his car and a set that was designed to look exactly like his condo in Sherman Oaks.
He most recently appeared in Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee in an episode entitled “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive.”
As the two comics drove around in a 1979 Porsche 930, Shandling said, “What I want at my funeral is an actual boxing referee to do a count, and at 5 just wave it off and say, ‘He’s not getting up.’”