NEW YORK TIMES: Garry Shandling, a comedian who deftly walked a tightrope between comic fiction and show-business reality on two critically praised cable shows, died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 66. A spokesman for the Los Angeles police confirmed the death but did not give a cause. TMZ, the celebrity news site, reported that Mr. Shandling had had a heart attack. Mr. Shandling, who began his comedy career as a writer and went on to become one of the most successful stand-up comics of the 1980s, was best known for “The Larry Sanders Show,” a dark look at life behind the scenes of a late-night talk show. It ran on HBO from 1992 to 1998.
Mr. Shandling’s Larry Sanders was the host of a fictional show within the show, interviewing real celebrities playing themselves in segments that were virtually indistinguishable from real talk shows like “The Tonight Show.” (Mr. Shandling had frequently substituted for Johnny Carson as the “Tonight Show” host.) But the show was mostly concerned with what happened when the cameras were off, especially the interplay among Larry, his bumbling announcer and sidekick (Jeffrey Tambor) and his mercurial producer (Rip Torn).
“The Larry Sanders Show,” often cited as a groundbreaking precursor of shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “30 Rock,” was the second show by Mr. Shandling to take an unorthodox approach. The first, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” seen on Showtime from 1986 to 1990, freely admitted that it was a show, with Mr. Shandling often breaking the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience. MORE
GQ: I will never forget calling my editor at GQ after spending my first four hours with Garry Shandling. I was sitting in my car outside Garry’s house in Mandeville Canyon. “I feel like I’m going to cry,” I said into the phone. The connection I’d just had with Shandling was so intense that I distinctly remember the lump in my throat, and my marveling at it being there. The interview had gone well – startlingly so. I interview famous, smart people all the time. And Garry was a funny, famous, smart person. He’d made me laugh. So why did I feel like bawling?
I didn’t actually cry that day back in 2010, but I’m crying now. Garry Shandling died? The world has lost a brilliant mind—the comic genius (an overused word that is entirely justified in this case) who created The Larry Sanders Show and, in a very real sense, countless shows that followed it, from Seinfeld to The Office to Curb Your Enthusiasm and beyond. And I’ve lost a wise, perceptive friend. “Make the spiritual search more important than the problem,” he told me once. Better than anyone I know, he understood that the search was the destination, that messiness was better than tidiness, that the complexity that makes us suffer also is the source of all beauty.
Back in 2010, my interview had been hard to make happen – Garry had put it off and put it off (I would soon learn this wasn’t unusual). And having had so much time to prepare as I waited for our sit-down, I’d interviewed everyone who knew him in advance and had arrived with five single-spaced pages of questions. He greeted me at his gate, rumpled-looking, took me inside. I asked him the first, most basic of my queries: Why, after five years out of the public eye, are you coming back to appear in Ironman 2? As I would describe in the piece, it took him nearly an hour to answer. What I didn’t describe in print was what happened next. I was anxious, sitting there with my 200 questions. He’d already used up half of what I’d been told was my allotted time. We were sitting on one of his couches in his vast living room, and I kept leaning forward to try to keep him on track, and he kept dissembling, and I kept thinking I have so much ground to cover and time is running out. I kept inching closer, and laughing nervously, and saying, “Garry, I’ve got a lot I want to ask you.”
Finally, he looked at me and said gently, “Don’t worry. You can come back.” MORE