I guess this will be a place for me to post some personal passions, as it relates to comedians and comedy, an industry I am fairly conversant in, though have not performed (nor plan to in the near or distant future, balls of steel I do not possess). I will try not to cull from Wiki but, instead, try to personalize a said comedian’s influence on me and my overall take on that comedian.
It is hard to say why I love Garry Shandling so much. It is hard to say, in that, there are so many reasons. I devoured the Larry Sanders Show back in the 90s. It won 24 awards, incl. Emmys. It is an acerbic and highly caustic look at a fictional late night TV show. Influential and a landmark does not begin to describe the show. Many of the actors played exaggerated versions of themselves in the show at a time when such a conceit was unheard of. This, of course, included Garry, who played the titular character, Larry Sanders.
To a man (and woman), fellow comics and actors have described Garry as wise, kind, generous, and, above all, funny. It is significant that his fellow comics unanimously give him such acolytes. Intensely private, neither married, or with children, his stage persona was of an anxiety-ridden man, on the verge of losing control. Perhaps it is a sad pity that is makes Garry so appealing to me, as he plays the put-upon Everyman. His self-deprecation is reminiscent of Woody from his stand-up days, minus the overreliance on psychiatric analysis as a comic thread.
If you don’t know Garry’s work, I would highly recommend the Larry Sanders Show. 6 seasons, 90 episodes. When I watched it in the 90s, I knew I was seeing something magic and unique. The TV landscape at that time was dominated by shows like Seinfeld, Friends, Home Improvement, Fresh Prince, and Frasier. I hope that that will give you an idea of context, and how out of left field, was Garry’s show.
They only aired it after midnight where I lived, so profanity-laden was the dialogue, especially to comic effect with Rip Torn. Most, if not all, his comic work is on YouTube, no surprise.
Perhaps you will find his fumbling, wincing, grimacing nebbish persona unappealing. How supremely uninteresting life would be, if we all liked the same thing. However, I would not be the first to describe him as on a different plane than the rest of us. Like a radio, it is as if he is attuned to a transmission only he can get, or understand. And combined with that face, it is like the stars suddenly aligned.
There are a small number of famous people I would enjoy sitting down with, and picking their brain. In fact, that can be a criteria here. Garry Shandling is definitely one of them. Check out Marc Maron’s interview with him on the WTF podcast, the respect he shows him colours the entire interview.
I will leave you with an atypical Garry joke. (paraphrased)
Garry: Yes, I’m in the dating scene. I’m out and about. I gave eHarmony a go. (beat) They matched me up with a gun.