When a celebrity passes, we’re all naturally drawn to their work. It’s a reminder of their greatness and what we, as fans, have lost. It’s also a bit of comfort food. For fans of Garry Shandling, who died on Thursday, that’s not the easiest thing to attain because the streaming options for It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show are woefully non-existant. So, if you weren’t smart enough to already own the available DVD sets, the best we can do is offer up these clips that highlight some of the latter’s most unforgettable and representative moments. Watch them and let the brilliance of both the show (a snow plow that cleared the field for so many other intelligent “inside baseball” TV shows) and the innovator who created it impress you all over again.
Bobcat Goldthwait flips out
In a rare unscripted moment on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in May of 1994, comic (and now, director) Bobcat Goldthwait set fire to a chair while taping. The moment caused a stir in the pre-viral era and Shandling responded by booking Goldthwait on The Larry Sanders Show in an effort to have some fun with the controversy. The best part? Arthur throwing Goldthwait down to protect his plants.
David Duchovny has a crush on Larry
Despite some of the lighter X-Files episodes, David Duchovny wasn’t known for his comedic chops, but a memorable guest spot on The Larry Sanders Show helped to change that thanks not merely to his crush on Larry, but for the intense way that he tried to get into Larry’s pants. Particularly the scene where he Basic Instincted Larry in a hotel room, pulling off a pretty great Sharon Stone impression in the process.
How to get out of a meeting
During the course of the show, Larry dated more than a few famous women. In that the show took place in the early to mid ’90s, no woman was more famous or desired than Sharon Stone, so naturally Shandling found a way to cast her as his love interest. Sadly, the fictional affair was brief and fraught with trouble, as Larry had issues dealing with her fame and the interest that the press had in their coupling.
A TV Icon sees a new side of Larry
A tremendous glimpse behind the late-night curtain, the lean-in scenes that occurred during in-show commercial breaks really gave the show some its best moments and sticks out in my head more than this exchange with Carol Burnett. The premise — that Burnett saw Larry’s balls during rehearsal — is funny enough, but it’s the elongated awkward silence before that moment and Burnett’s repeat of the shocking information that she has just uttered out loud. This wouldn’t have been half as funny if not for Burnett’s delivery.
Larry and Alec Baldwin have something in common
Once again, Larry’s love life becomes intertwined with a guest, allowing for a delightfully awkward moment. This time, with Alec Baldwin, who as it turns out, has shared a lover with Larry in the past. Something that, of course, pushes Larry’s buttons.
Larry turns William Shatner around
The Larry Sanders Show artfully demonstrated the fakeness at play in the entertainment industry on multiple occasions. In this scene, William Shatner is on the phone and resistant to doing a Star Trek sketch that was pitched to him by Larry’s writers (a PCU-era Jeremy Piven and Wallace Langham). Naturally this all changes when Larry gets on the phone, though you wonder if he got involved to get the yes or to get Shatner to say the word “Klingon.”
Hank tries to get an invite to Larry’s party
“Hey Now” Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) was responsible for the show’s most enduring catchphrase (“Hey now!”) and some of its best moments. In fact, this may not even be a top 10 Hank moment, but it’s such a perfect primer for everything that Hank was on the show. Annoying, corny, artificial, brazen, sad, and desperate. I mean those all in the best possible way, because Jeffrey Tambor and Garry Shandling played off each other brilliantly as an annoyance time bomb and the man who was always too-close-for-comfort when it came to the blast radius.
Arthur sets Hank straight
Arthur (Rip Torn), Larry’s battle hardened producer, also got some of the show’s best moments as he walked around trying (and so often failing) to keep drama off of Larry’s plate, often drama caused by Hank. This moment, in particular, gets a nod because it allows Artie to let his gravely and booming voice soar as he ignores restraint and lets Hank have it. Because, in a moment of pure magic, Hank begged him to do so.
I promise you that you will never have the chance to kick social concerns to the curb and lacerate your rival with words like Artie does here. Take a second to live vicariously through him.
Robin Williams, Hank, Larry, and Artie
This is, in this moment, a really depressing clip because of the far-too-early passing of both Robin Williams and Garry Shandling, but it’s also another clip that serves to highlight so many things at once. Here, we’ve got the benefit of a celebrity guest who is absolutely game, an awkward moment with Hank in mid-sulk, a little Arthur-asskissery, and the disintegration of cordiality.
Besides the times when the show focused on the dysfunctional elements at play in an office filled with egos and insecurities, The Larry Sanders Show was at its best when it took the opportunity to blow the doors off of the idea that every talk show was a rip-roaring good time where friends came by to chat and no tension was ever present. This scene perfectly accomplishes that.