I know Garry Shandling passed away a little bit ago, but I wanted to think about what I wanted to write and it’s not like he’s going to get any less dead so here we are.
When I made my communion in the 3rd grade, my Grandmom bought me a 13 inch color tv for my room. I still remember ripping the wrapping paper off of it and hugging the box like it was a stuffed animal. I had some issues. Anyway, I drug it to my room, plugged it in and became it’s best friend. Now this was in the days before cable, mind you, so all you needed was a good antenna, which that little guy had, so I got all 3 networks (3, 6 & 10), the 2 uhf stations (17 & 29), plus PBS (12). Sometimes, if I spun the tuner dial enough, I could somehow pickup a New York channel and watch some rerun we didn’t get in Philly. But my favorite thing to watch was Late Night TV.
If I kept the volume at a low enough level, my mom wouldn’t hear it (and there was no headphone jack because that wasn’t a thing and closed captioning wasn’t either. How we were able to function in the world is beyond me) and I would try to laugh as quietly as possible. I started watching Carson and after that, Letterman. On Friday nights, I would stay up and watch Friday Night Videos and even that show Fridays (even as a small kid I knew it was a weird and different show that would not last very long). Saturday nights were reserved for Saturday Night Live. I remember the Eddie Murphy years pretty well. They really weren’t as bad as everyone thinks they were, they just weren’t First 5 Years Funny. But really, what is?
Anyway, I loved watching Carson because he always had Standup Comics on. I didn’t know then that it was up to Johnny if the comic got a wave over to the couch but when they did, I would get really excited. It was one thing to see a comic do a set at the end of the show but it was another to see them tell a funny story. And Garry always had a great story after a great set (it was the first time I would hear terms like “The Comedy Store” and that there were clubs you could see these guys in PERSON at!). When he hosted, I would make myself stay up and watch the whole show every time. I would scour the TV section of the paper to see if he was coming on anything. I loved his dry humor, even if some of it went over my head. I knew there was a level I wasn’t getting but I figured I would someday.
When cable finally came around, my Mom wasn’t into it but my friend had it and we would watch episodes of “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show”. We would sing along with the theme song and then laugh at what we understood (and also at Grant’s glasses) and puzzle over stuff we didn’t. But it was unlike any show we had seen prior and we appreciated it’s uniqueness (it broke the 4th wall and everyone knew they were in a sitcom). As I became more and more into comedy, Garry would host awards shows and I would take note of the clever jokes and the way he seemed to not give a shit, without actually….not giving a shit. I read about how he loved playing basketball, even back then (which you got a whiff of from IGSS, because he played a lot on the show), and sometimes I would see him sitting in floor seats at the old Forum during Lakers telecasts.
As a grownup, I thought it would be cool to meet him, maybe see what he thought about the Lakers, or ask him questions about IGSS or Larry Sanders, or just say hello and thanks for making a lonely kid in Philly laugh so hard. But that’s not a thing now.
Thanks Garry. Hope you made that 3 in the sky.
Here are some dates I have coming up:
Wed. March 30- Comedy Roulette, Helium
Sun. April 3- Hosting 6:30 Philly Sketchfest show, Community Education Center, Philly (www.phillysketchfest.com)
Wed. April 6- Feature Spot, Victoria Freehouse, Philly
Thurs. April 7- Warm Town Comedy, Ruba Club, Philly
Sat. April 9- Charm City Comedy, Zissimo’s, Baltimore
Mon. April 18- Rage On: A Night of Comedy, Philly
May 6- Comedy for Gentlemen, The Republican, South Philly