The story: It’s a workplace comedy about a late night talk show with Garry Shandling as host.
Why you should see it? Because you like “The Office.” Because you like “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Because you like Johnny Carson. Because you’d like to see one of the first comedy series to use realism as the backbone of the show. Because you were cognizant in the ’90s and still enjoy a good MacGyver, OJ Simpson, or Maury Povich joke (remember them?).
“The Larry Sanders Show” is weird. This HBO TV series from the ’90s features the late Garry Shandling as the talk show host. Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor plays “hey, now” Hank Kingsley, Larry’s Ed McMahon-type sidekick who has a penchant for slapping his name on any crappy product he can. Other cast members includes Rip Torn as Larry’s ego-massaging producer, Janeane Garofalo, and Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson. Some episodes were written and executive-produced by a young Judd Apatow.
The series’ ahead-of-it’s-timeness is revealed in lots of ways. Episodes feature ’90s stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves. There’s no laugh track, except when used during the “live taping” of the talk show. The talk show footage is shot on video and the backstage scenes are shot on film.
Ricky Gervais was influenced by “The Larry Sanders Show,” telling Variety that “It taught me that flawed characters can be compulsive viewing — seeing them squirm and get their comeuppance.”
Sometimes the story-lines are hit or miss, but it doesn’t matter because every episode is oddly brilliant. The series grows on you… At first you aren’t sure what you’re watching – so you flip away and see what else is on, and you think… “Hmmm… I’d rather be watching that weird show from the ’90s.” So you circle back to it.
Some episodes to check out are:
“Life Behind Larry” – Larry recommends Bobcat Goldthwait to the networks to host the 12:30 show, but Goldthwait’s comedy isn’t a match.
“The Hankerciser 200” – Hank endorses another shitty product (this one causes injuries) while Artie mentors a group of UCLA students on a “typical day” at the show (no days are typical).
“A Brush with the Elbow of Greatness” – Larry bumps into a lady at the grocery store and it’s caught on video tape – the footage is aired on local news.
I Can’t Believe it’s on YouTube!
Maybe the Larry Sanders Show will inspire you to create a tv show that’s an exaggeration of you and all your quirks – but how to write a tv show? Here are 7 steps to get you in the right direction.
Written by: Mich Medvedoff