After comedy and television icon Garry Shandling passed away in March, many of his closest friends, collaborators, and business partners came out of the woodwork to sing his praises. Some, like Jeffrey Tambor and Kevin Nealon, reflected fondly on their friend’s life. While others, like Conan O’Brien and Seth Meyers, paid tribute to their former mentor and source of inspiration. One month later, these and many others were able to come together and celebrate Shandling’s career while mourning his loss at a Los Angeles memorial service hosted by Judd Apatow on Sunday.
The ceremony began with a sketch starring Tambor and Penny Johnson Jerald as their respective Larry Sanders Show character, Hank and Beverly. Their comedic opening was praised by many who attended the memorial, including Grantland founder Bill Simmons, but as The New York Times put it, “reality eclipsed the gag” when Tambor’s Hank exclaimed, “He was irreplaceable!”
Many other celebrities in attendance delivered remarks. Larry Sanders Show cast member Sarah Silverman called her former boss “The Giving Tree” after the popular children’s book, while actor George Segal referred to him as “the Prince of comedians, because he changed everything.” Apatow, a former writer on the oft-praised HBO program, continued the comparison with the claim that both Sanders and Prince were “mysterious, complicated, [and] sexually ambiguous” characters.
Apatow, who described Shandling as “a second father,” had previously held a final basketball game with many of the actor’s closest friends soon after his death. Ahead of Sunday’s two and a half-hour service, he posted a photo on Instagram previewing the final preparations with the caption, “Preparing for the Garry memorial.”
Humor aside, the memorial also served as a reminder of just how complicated a person Shandling was. In a joke that delivered some of the event’s biggest laughs, Nealon alluded to his departed friend’s complex relationship with his mother, which informed much of his comedy:
“The sad irony of all this,” Mr. Nealon said, “is that Garry is reunited with his mother for all eternity.”
Speakers also addressed many of Shandling’s less than stellar moments — from his older brother’s death and his own recent health problems, to a high-profile lawsuit involving his former manager, Brad Grey. Or as Nealon phrased it, “The truth is, I think it was very hard to be Garry… He was complex, at times neurotic, persnickety, high maintenance, a perfectionist with the highest standards. He could be a handful.”
(Via The New York Times)