Why The Larry Sanders Show Is The Most Influential Sitcom

However jerry seinfeldThe web series that became Netflix by Comedians in cars having a coffee was always meant to be a low-stakes conversational affair, there’s something much-needed about the season 7 episode featuring Garry Shandling. First, because it was the last major screen appearance Shandling would make, as he died less than a year later, rendering Shandling’s self-effacing meditations on his career and the mortality of his fellow comedians d all the more poignant. But also because the episode shows how closely Shandling and Seinfeld’s careers were intertwined: they both started doing comedy in LA at the same time, started making late night appearances at the same time and even starred in their own groundbreaking television shows at the same time, which were filmed on the same studio lot. But at the same time Seinfeld remained one of the most popular and beloved sitcoms of the 90s, The Larry Sanders Show has remained just as much of a cult show as it was when it first aired, and yet has had as wide an influence on modern television comedy as any show to come since it first aired 30 years ago.


The immense influence The Larry Sander show has had compared to its 90s contemporaries with greater name recognition, is of course not to be taken lightly. The ’90s were truly one of the great decades of TV comedy, because it’s no surprise that the shows that defined that decade, such as Friends, The simpsons, fraseretc., continued to be binge-worthy touchstones long after they went off the air, while the decade also saw its share of cutting-edge cult shows (such as Mr. Show, The children in the room, freaks and geeks). However, none of these shows can quite match the way that The Larry Sanders Show has changed television comedy and how many shows can bring their lineage back to this show.

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That said, the show wasn’t a huge viewership source when it aired, and it didn’t really need to be, since it was airing on HBO before that network really took off with its programming. original a few years later with the arrival of sex in the city and The Sopranos. It’s also been pretty hard to watch since it ended its run in 1998, as its reruns only had a short stint in syndication on Bravo in the early 2000s, and the show’s music rights made it a DVD set of larry sander didn’t happen until 2010, when the “TV on DVD” boom had almost come to an end. Meanwhile, it wasn’t available to stream until Shandling struck a deal with HBO shortly before his death in 2016.

That said, Gary Shandling’s status as the creator-star of a perpetually underrated but groundbreaking show has always been somewhat by design. After making several well-received appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson throughout the 80s, Shandling became a recurring guest host on the show and was even offered his own late-night talk show that would follow. Jay Lenoit is Tonight’s show. However, Shandling chose to do something a little more unusual. After creating and playing in This is the Garry Shandling show, a show built on the very meta-premise of having Shandling star in a sitcom while being very aware that he’s in a sitcom by continually breaking the fourth wall, he wanted to continue that trend of dissecting TV’s artifice and show business. The way he decided to do it was to make a sitcom about what happens behind the scenes of a late night talk show, when people break away from the pre-rehearsed banter we see on TV and start talking to each other much more honestly. .

This resulted in the show within a show being shot on tape in front of a studio audience, while the backstage portion of the show was shot with a single camera and no laugh track. It’s easy to take for granted how rare that was back then, because it’s now more common to see TV comedies without a laugh than with them, but the fact that Larry Sanders was one of the shows to help normalize that is just one. something that makes the show so central to the history of television. By not forcing these characters to hit laugh lines every minute or two, it allows them to feel much more grounded, while the funny moments arise more from very human unease than editing and punchlines. It also explains why the show hasn’t always had to make its characters likable (Jeffrey DrumHank Kingsley’s sidekick might be particularly pathetic and repulsive), which the show could only really get away with on HBO, where its brand of cutting-edge comedy could flourish, safe from the constant ratings of executives. of the network back when ratings really mattered.

It’s even hard to know where to start when it comes to the most influential parts of The Larry Sanders Show, but let’s start with the premise of the show. Since The Larry Sanders Show broadcast, behind-the-scenes showbiz comedy has almost become a genre of its own. You can see the format which larry sander established in all of 30 Rock at Surroundings at BoJack Rider at hackswhere you have this somewhat cynical approach to tackling the various needy personalities that help drive show business forward while drawing out some uncomfortable laughs and truths in the process.

larry sander writer (and comedy lead) Judd Apatow has regularly say again Garry Shandling’s mantra for the show that it was “people who love each other, but show business gets in the way”. It shows how deeply human the show could be, and yet it was also in many ways this hip little hideaway where the biggest stars of the 90s could show up and confuse their characters in whatever way they saw fit – another of Larry Sanders innovations that now seem almost over the top. The number of famous guest stars is too long to list, because they vary from very famous people at the time (everyone from Sharon Stone at David Letterman at howard stern) to people who will break out a few years later (Bob Odenkerka pre-Daily show Jon Stewart). This testifies to the fact that while larry sander wasn’t widely seen by the country as a whole, it was clearly a place famous people wanted to be because there just wasn’t another show like it.

Another aspect in which you can see the influence on countless later television series is how larry sander was shot. This may not have been the first half-hour comedy to refrain from using a laugh track, but the way it created its own visual language seems particularly vital. The scenes that take place behind the scenes or in the show’s offices all have this very flying aesthetic that borders on mockumentary. This would explain why Ricky Gervais quoted The Larry Sanders Show as a big influence on the British version of Officewhich of course would engender the United States Desk as well as the tastes of Parks and recreation and modern family (whose creator Steven Levitan was actually a writer on The Larry Sanders Show). In larry sander‘ visual style, you can also see another of the show’s innovations, as it established “walking and talking” – a scene in which two characters are having a conversation and are walking as the camera follows them from the front, a technique later popularized by The west wing. According to Apatovthey would achieve this effect by having their cameraman wear inline skates, since they didn’t have the budget for a Steadicam.

But maybe The Larry Sanders ShowThe most enduring legacy is that it was a comedy that wasn’t going for easy laughs. It was definitely a comedy first and foremost, but the show’s tone and format allowed its writers and actors to really explore the scenes and characters in a deeper way than if they were in a traditional sitcom. You can see it in so many TV comedies now, to the point that it’s almost become a parody that so many half-hour shows often feel more like dramas than comedies. Also, the fact that larry sander the character was not so far removed from Garry Shandling that the person makes the series a precursor to semi-autobiographical series like Calm your enthusiasm, Girlsand Insecure. Then, if his influence on TV comedy wasn’t enough, you can also see the show’s mix of punchlines and pathos in the films of Judd Apatow, who saw Shandling so much as a mentor that he directed the mini- HBO series. The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling in 2018 following the death of the comedian.

Despite the immense impact of The Larry Sanders ShowAnother possible reason why its status as one of TV’s great comedies has remained somewhat muted is that Garry Shandling kept a fairly low profile after the show ended. Her film career failed to take off after starring in the poorly received What planet are you from?, although he still makes occasional appearances, as the DreamWorks animated film co-star Over the limit or show up in iron man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, the outpouring of love that Shandling received from all corners of the comedy world after his death in 2016 revealed the impact he had on his colleagues, and he still doesn’t feel like he’s gone, because he chances are you’ll see its influence every time you put on any modern comedy series.

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