It’s Garry Shandling’s Book
Judd Apatow (ed)
Judd Apatow is the editor here, he pulls together the various strands to make this book for and of Garry Shandling based on Shandling’s journals and papers; there are photographs and various reminiscences from comedian colleagues to fill it out. Judd’s voice is there – and clear – on many of the pages. And well, why not, Shandling was both one of his heroes and his employer, one of Apatow’s starts in life was as a producer on one of Garry’s TV shows.
This book – created in tandem with the documentary Apatow made (also in tribute) – isn’t quite a memoir or bio, it’s more a scrapbook. And it’s brilliant.
Worth remembering that Shandling twice revolutionised TV – while simultaneously providing biting comment about it. First it was It’s Garry Shandling’s Show with it’s fourth-wall breaking and it’s funny theme song. Then it was to The Larry Sanders Show which poked fun at and celebrated (and lifted the curtain on) the talk-show format. We’re reminded here that Garry basically turned down his own change to do a legit talk show in favour of lampooning the format and the hosting style.
So where did that genius come from? Well, time was served writing for TV shows (Welcome Back Kotter, Three’s Company) and then the decision was made: to focus on stand-up. Here we get to read earnest letters, including one to his comedy-hero George Carlin. Here we also read jokes and jokes-in-draft and early routines and scraps and various bits and pieces.
Through it all a thread emerges: Garry took comedy very seriously. Garry took life very seriously. Comedy was no laughing matter. It was about the writing. And it was about the idea. And it was about the power of the joke.
Shandling was forever a student of the form. But here we have his various teachings. Master one-liner joke-teller (and writer).
It’s bittersweet to sweep through this miscellany.
But it’s such a great reminder of Shandling’s comedic genus; of the hard work he put in to get there. And it’s for fans – this is not about introducing people to the gifts and the back-story, it’s about celebrating the guy, about reminding. It’s about the jokes and the craftsman that Shandling was.