by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief
To know Garry Shandling was to love Garry Shandling, this seemed especially true for those privileged enough to have known Garry personally, but for many others like myself, we loved Garry through his amazing body of work. In a year that we lost some true icons, his passing struck me harder than most of them. There was just something so genuine and honest about him, that made me feel like he was a friend. Years from now, we’ll look back at 2016 and say, “ Bowie, Prince, Wilder, Shandling, Rickman and then fucking Trump?!…Boy, 2016 really stuck it in and broke it off, didn’t it? “
I can vividly recall spending time with Garry Shandling via The Larry Sanders Show, his revolutionary HBO show back in the 90’s. My town felt like one of the last in the world to get cable. (There was a time, not very long ago where this wasn’t so uncommon.) I spent much of my childhood in the 80’s fighting with a set of rabbit ears on my small color TV. It didn’t pull much in and what it did pull in didn’t come in very well. When we finally got Cable I watched a LOT of HBO, mostly for the movies but then for their original TV shows. The Larry Sanders Show had me hooked from the first Jeffery Tambor “Hey now!” (Honorable mention goes to Brian Benben on Dream On)
One of the men behind the scenes on The Larry Sanders Show was a young Judd Apatow, who would write and produce numerous episodes of that iconic show. Apatow’s connection to Shandling actually began a decade before his work on Shandling’s HBO show, though. As a teenager in the early 80’s Apatow interviewed Shandling as well as many other comedians he idolized for a show he created for his high school radio station (solely as a way to meet his heroes. I can relate).
Shortly after Shandling’s passing, Apatow would tell The Wrap: “I just don’t know how to sum up someone I loved so much who taught me everything I know and was always so kind to me. I am just too sad. Maybe tomorrow I will do better.” Given some time, it seems Apatow has figured out how best he can sum up Shandling, by crafting a documentary film about the legend. Yesterday Apatow posted a picture of he and Kevin Nealon with the caption: “Shooting started today on a documentary I am making about Garry Shandling. Kevin Nealon was our first interview.”
It’s inspirational to see Apatow using his chosen art to transform his grief into a tribute for such an amazing showman. With a career spanning over forty years, he crossed paths and made friends with many. I’m sure Garry’s friends will have no shortage of stories to share. Apatow is a filmmaker who always manages to mix the heartfelt with the hilarious in the most amazing ways. It feels like his path has been leading right to this film. I’m eager to see what he puts together to honor Shandling.