Garry Shandling memorial was 'funny, sad, perfect'

garry-shandling-gq.jpgThere was a memorial gathering for Garry Shandling last night at the Wilshire Ebell, attended by 900 or so friends, among them Sara Silverman, Judd Apatow, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Tom Petty, Sen. Al Franken and Conan O'Brien. Amy Wallace, the LA writer who wrote that great personal piece about her friendship with Shandling after he died last month at age 66, was there too and posted about it for GQ.


It's the rare Hollywood memorial service at which Adam Sandler sings a serious song, Johnny Depp backs up rocker Ryan Adams, Kevin Nealon apologizes to some Buddhist monks for an excess of "pussy and cock wordplay," and a reigning studio chieftain (Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey) is referred to repeatedly as despicable....

Over and over, Shandling was described as a selfless teacher. Apatow, who organized the evening with a financial assist from HBO (which put Sanders on the air), credited the writer-director Adam McKay with observing that despite Shandling's zeitgeist-shaping career, which laid the groundwork for people like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, people were always asking him why he hadn't done another show. (Someone recited a joke he'd written about this: "When I die, God will probably say to me, 'Do you have a show on the air now?'") "He'd reinvented comedy on TV two times, and yet we're always going, 'When's the next time?'" Apatow said, looking out into an audience filled with people—many of them not famous in the least—who Shandling had encouraged and showered with feedback, especially during the last third of his life. "What Adam was saying was in a lot of ways, we all became his third show."

The memorial had begun with Jeffrey Tambor, who played sidekick Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, and Penny Johnson, who played Larry's assistant Beverly Barnes, meeting onstage as if in character. Tambor worried, Hank-like, about whether he would get to speak before or after Shandling's funnier friends and about who was going to inherit Shandling's Emmy (which he won for a Sanders episode). Johnson was reassuring, much like Beverly would have been, and the bit got laughs—especially when Tambor joked that he had Brad Grey waiting outside in his car (and Johnson made it clear the studio chief wasn't welcome). But then, artifice gave way to reality as Tambor broke down. Hugging Johnson, he sobbed of Shandling, "He was irreplaceable."

Grey and Shandling famously had a major falling out, as most in the room probably knew. The Anthony Pellicano snooping case comes up too, along with excerpts including this one from former girlfriend Linda Doucett, Shandling's former girlfriend who played Hank Kingsley's assistant Darlene on "The Larry Sanders Show:" "Garry really did have a huge penis. I wasn't planning to say that."

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