After hearing that Garry Shandling had died on Thursday, late night host Conan O’Brien decided to make a last-minute change to his program.
Conan was scheduled to tape his show in just a few hours and had a monologue written, but decided to scrap it when he learned that Shandling had died of a heart attack. The late night host instead used that time to remember Shandling, who Conan called an inspiration and a close friend.
In a touching story, Conan shared the special relationship he had with Shandling.
“He had a ton of empathy for other people,” Conan said. “I want to make that point. That is something in this business, in comedy, that is very rare. He really did care about other people. During a particularly difficult time in my life Garry just magically appeared and helped me a lot.”
Conan went on to tell how his Tonight Show reign ended in this “crazy, effed up, spectacular fashion” and how he woke the next morning with no job and no idea what to do next with his life. Conan’s wife suggested that he go to Hawaii to relax and “get some sun for the first time in 40 years.”
After checking into the hotel room in Hawaii, Conan said he sat alone for 40 minutes looking at the ocean when his phone rang, and he heard a voice.
“It’s Garry. I’m staying three doors down, we’re on an island, there’s no avoiding me,” Conan recalled Shandling saying to him.
Conan said Garry Shandling had checked in the day before, and the two ended up spending the entire week together.
“I spent the entire week with Garry Shandling,” he said. “I’ll tell you something, I was at a real low point and he counseled me, he cheered me up, he told me jokes and talked to me about philosophy and how there are bigger things in the world.”
The full, touching story can be seen below.
Many others have reached out to remember Garry Shandling, who died at age 66. Tributes have been pouring in from across the world of comedy, with many remembering Shandling as a groundbreaking genius whose sitcom, The Larry Sanders Show, was far ahead of its time.
“Working with him was one of the great privileges of my career,” said Rip Torn, his Larry Sanders Show co-star (via CBS News). “He was a comic talent of immense originality who enthusiastically encouraged and responded to the originality of others.”
Many remembered Shandling the way Conan did, as a deeply caring friend in an industry that is not always known as the most welcoming
“I’m crushed. That man made me laugh. Spoke to me as a peer,” said comedian Kathy Griffin. “Even though I’ve known him since the 90s, it’s in the last few years that we have had meaningful and memorable one-on-one talks. I had no idea our last one would be four days ago.”
Even those who came up in the industry after Garry Shandling’s time have remembered him as a great influence. Seth MacFarlane called Shandling one of his “comedy icons,” and director Judd Apatow said Shandling “taught me everything I know.”
“Garry would see the ridiculousness of me being asked to sum up his life five minutes after being told of his passing. It is a perfect, ridiculous Larry Sanders moment,” Apatow said. “I can imagine how Hank would handle it but I just don’t know how to sum up someone I loved so much who taught me everything I know and was always so kind to me. I am just too sad. Maybe tomorrow I will do better.”
Conan O’Brien also remembered Garry Shandling beyond Thursday’s monologue. On the show’s YouTube page, TBS posted some of the best moments that Garry had on the show.
[Image via YouTube/TBS]