The Larry Sanders Show aired on HBO from 1992 to 1998 and it was one of the funniest shows in the history of television. It was also one of the most influential. I think this was the first show in which celebrities would often appear as themselves and then act like total assholes. Before The Larry Sanders Show, most celebrities appeared as idealized versions of themselves. After The Larry Sanders Show, it became more common for celebrities to poke fun at their own image.
The show was dominated by three brilliant performances. Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rip Torn all played familiar show business types and what made the show memorable was how fearlessly it dug into how screwed up each of them were. Shandling played insecure talk show host, Larry Sanders. Tambor was Hank “Hey Now!” Kingsley, the sidekick whose main talent was not having enough talent to overshadow the host. Best of all, Rip Torn was Artie, the producer who knew everyone who was anyone and who could turn profanity into poetry. Sadly, both Shandling and Torn are no longer with us. Meanwhile, Tambor’s career seems to be over, the result of the type of #MeToo revelations that probably would have taken down Hank Kingsley as well.
What was the best episode of The Larry Sanders Show? I’d have to go with Hank’s Sex Tape overall. If you want to see a great Rip Torn episode, watch Arthur After Hours.
I guess because they both aired for in the 90s and featured a cast of self-centered neurotics, I always thought of The Larry Sanders Show as being a companion show to Seinfeld. Curb Your Enthusiasm feels like the child of both of them.
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