(Garry Shandling: 29 November 1949 – 24 March, 2016)
The American talk-show is one of the weirdest things about America. Canned jokes: a format straight from the days of the music hall: insipid monologues: dumb Q & A’s: dumber sketches: a conga line of actors and singers with a product to plug: barren interaction with the bandleader: in sum, one or two hours so insipid and un-cerebral that it is a miracle things don’t come to a full stop, well shy of schedule.
Shandling was born in Chicago (comedy central) and developed an aversion to formulaic comedy. So why would he do a gig writing and guest-hosting for the Johnny Carson Show? Perhaps because Carson was the best of the bunch, but thankfully, Shandling was not anointed his successor, and instead, he developed The Larry Sanders Show, a superb riff on the talk show concept and a seminal ‘reality’ comedy to boot.
Our favourite moments from the show (‘live…on tape’):
Larry reluctantly agrees to promote the “Garden Weasel.” Arthur (Rip Torn) tells Studio Exec Miss Parish that “I killed a man just like you in Korea.”
Larry reluctantly agrees to wrangle tarantulas.
Larry, single again now his girlfriend has fled the TV studio that he calls home, learns about the third law of thermodynamics when he goes to dinner with Sharon Stone.
David Duchovny reveals his slow-burning man-crush for Larry. Meanwhile, Elvis Costello sees Hank (Jeffrey Tambor) coming and sells him his jalopy (“It’s not a car, Hank…it’s a driving machine…”)
On Larry’s valedictory show, Jim Carrey does a great farewell bit and then, off camera, reminds Larry with a snarl, “What are you going to do now? Movies? I’ll crush you…Larry…we’re off the air. This is real life now.”