Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 February 07 • Friday

The Larry Sanders Show might be our favorite TV show. It's certainly one of the best TV shows ever made.

And so we were interested to read It's Garry Shandling's Book, a hybrid of Shandling biography and oral history with copious amounts of photographs and pages from Shandling's handwritten journals.

It's edited by Judd Apatow, a friend, fan and colleague of Shandling's, who also put together the two part Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, pretty much the same thing as this book but presented as a documentary film.

The book seemed more focused and more sympathetic to me than the movie, but both are essential for anybody interested in Garry Shandling's life and work.

Shandling's journal entries can be a slog at times and he appears to be writing the same things about the same struggles for decades. The oral history contributions of people who knew him are especially valuable. Best of all are the examples given of Shandling's jokes. They are brilliant and timeless.

How much did Garry Shandling stress about his work? Consider how he marked up his script here for his part of the voice of Verne the turtle in the animated children's movie Over the Hedge.

My first thought was that this was insane. But then it occurred to me that maybe it was actually just the opposite. Instead of somebody doing a bullshit job in a bullshit way for money, every creative activity is another opportunity to explore the depths of emotion and psychology, of what it means to be human, of motivations and desires, another chance to dig deeper into vulnerability and authenticity.

This is what Shandling's life work truly was, apart from the products of that work.

The first line is "When Garry died suddenly we were all lost".