NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NEW YORK
Garry Shandling was a singular trailblazer in the comedy world. His two hit shows, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show, broke new ground and influenced future sitcoms like 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and his stand-up laid the foundation for a whole new generation of comics. There’s no one better to tell Shandling’s story than Judd Apatow—Shandling gave Apatow one of his first jobs and remained his mentor for the rest of his life—and the book expands on Apatow’s Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.
Here, Apatow has gathered journal entries, photographs, and essays for a close-up look at the artist who turned his gaze back onto the world of show business. Beyond his success, though, Shandling struggled with fame, the industry of art, and the childhood loss of his brother, which forever affected his personal and professional lives. His diaries show Shandling to be self-aware and insightful, revealing a deep philosophical and spiritual side. Contributions by comedians and other leading lights of the industry, as well as people who grew up with Shandling, along with never-before-seen pieces of scripts and brilliant jokes that he never performed, shed new light on every facet of his life and work. This book is the final word on the lasting impact of the great Garry Shandling.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Judd Apatow
When Garry died suddenly we were all lost. I am a hoarder. I try to hold on to everything. My first instinct was to hoard Garry. He had always been my mentor, my friend, and my greatest inspiration in creativity and life. He was not a perfect man, but he was always trying to reach the next level. When I was a young man he handed me a Buddhist book called Catching a Feather on a Fan, and it brought spirituality into my life for the first time. I dealt with this loss by refusing to let go of any of Garry. I am pretty sure that goes against all of the tenets of Buddhism.
Garry had a large home that he built himself and was never entirely comfortable in. The joke with his friends was how he always complained about it. He would hire people to draw up designs about how to fix it, and then would never like them enough to actually move forward. When I entered his house to help deal with his material possessions, I wondered what I would find. He never seemed like the kind of person who kept anything. I didn’t see him as sentimental. I remember one year, way before streaming, I got him every episode of Inside the Actors Studio on VHS for his birthday. As I handed it to him, I realized he would never watch it and wondered what black hole it would disappear into.
When I first went through his office it seemed like there wasn’t much to deal with, barely a personal photo. All of his awards were in a trophy case he had built next to his washer and dryer. He had a loft above an office next to his garage that had some boxes from his TV-series days.
It felt like he was living his Buddhist life, not holding on to the past, trying to live in the moment. Then I opened a closet and found a stack of boxes. I soon realized that Garry kept everything. He seemed to just chuck items into boxes, then put them in closets and never look at them again. I opened one and found a box of letters Garry had written to his college-era girlfriend. Someone told me that after she died, her parents sent them to Garry. I opened another box and found letters to his parents, his earliest joke notebooks, and reel-to-reel tapes of a young Garry performing his earliest stand-up act alone into a tape recorder.
It went on and on, box after box. His house had no family photos displayed, but there was a box of hundreds of childhood photographs perfectly preserved.
The most important find was a trunk that contained all of his journals since 1978. I quietly debated whether or not I should read them. Twenty seconds later I started reading them. I was afraid I would lose respect for him if I knew all his secrets and deepest feelings. What I discovered was that he was an even better person than I had realized. Decade after decade I just read about a man struggling to figure out how to be more open and loving. There were some details about conflicts with friends, girlfriends, and work associates, but the vast majority of his writings were reminders to himself about the man he wanted to be. In his private thoughts he would constantly remind himself to let go of his ego and to seek evolution as a person. He also had a lot of amazing jokes, many of which never saw the light of day.
In the years before his death he had considered projects that would be based on these journals. I took that as meaning that Garry knew there was wisdom in his journey, which he wanted to share with others. People who have seen our documentary, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, told me how impactful his diary entries were to them. Some even took photos of the screen.
This book is the final major Garry Shandling project. I am very honored to be a part of excavating photos, jokes, journals, script pages, interviews, and anything that I thought would help illuminate this fascinating, brilliant, and kind man. This is the ultimate hoarding of Garry. I hope you enjoy it.