The One Moment From Garry Shandling's Career You Shouldn't Forget As You Mourn The Loss Of A Legend
Comedian, actor, writer and producer Garry Shandling has died, according to a TMZ report on Thursday afternoon. Shandling — who was best known for It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders show was 66 years old. TMZ reports that Shandling's death was sudden and that he passed away at a hospital in Los Angeles. Bustle has reached out to Shandling's rep for comment, but has not received a response.
Though Shandling has recently been involved in some big budget movie cameos, his early work on two influential sitcoms will not go unnoticed. His first show, the It’s Garry Shandling’s Show was nominated for four Emmys, and made waves for being one of the first shows that broke the fourth wall. As Shandling played one version of himself, he was acutely aware of how ridiculous his sitcom character was, and would often let the audience know that he was in on the joke. The second show was HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, where Shandling was the star and co-creator. The sitcom was set in the office of a faux late-night talk show. It was nominated for 18 Emmys, and ended up taking one home for its series finale. It's this series finale — titled "Flip" — that we should all remember as we celebrate the life of Shandling and his contributions to the world of sitcoms.
The darkly comic — and notably ahead of its time — sitcom wrapped up exactly how fans of the show would have hoped. In May of 1998, after six seasons, Shandling and his crew said goodbye to the late-night within a late-night show, and on their way out, delivered one of the best series finales in TV history — because where "Flip" pulls of an almost impeccable goodbye for the show, it also serves as a commentary for "series finales" in general. It was over the top, full of celebrity cameos (Jon Stewart, Bob Odenkirk, and David Duchovny to name a few!), yet still, totally self-aware of its own excess.
In a meta critique of late night and sitcom farewells, the show within the show had a contemporaneous finale to the actual show. In what could have been a finale that took itself too literally or tried too hard to be radical, "Flip" remained true to the humanity of the series, ending with Larry, Artie, and Hank alone in the studio. Thus showing that at the heart of all this nonsense, was, well, heart. Its ability to make fun of itself, but not take itself too seriously or self-righteously — and still incorporate characters that the audience cares about made The Larry Sanders Show an important precedent to other sitcoms like Seinfeld, 30 Rock, and even Curb Your Enthusiasm. Shandling's ability to craft a visionary sitcom — one with substance, biting satire, and cultural critique — allowed its successors to exist in the space, because in a way, it built the space.
I don't know how Shandling did it, but I do know that modern comedy owes him a lot.