Nearly five-hundred friends, colleagues and admirers of Garry Shandling gathered at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles last night to pay tribute to the life and work of the comedian, who died of a heart attack last month. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the memorial service was produced and hosted by filmmaker Judd Apatow, whose career Shandling helped nurture several decades ago with several key opportunities, including a writer-producer job on The Larry Sanders show in 1993. “I don’t know how I am going to do this. I’m sorry in advance,” a visibly emotional Apatow told the crowd of comedians and industry insiders. “Why are we so upset about Garry? Because he opened up to us. He revealed his truth, his pain, his struggle, his fight to lead an ego-less life … He worked so hard to become the man that he became and an amazing friend to so many of us. … He’s like a comedy buddha.”
Jeffrey Tambor, whose role on The Larry Sanders Show was instrumental in his career trajectory, spoke of the deep impact his co-star had on his life and career. “He was the kindest genius I ever knew,” Tambor said. “He changed my life … He went past laughter to humanity. And laughter, for him, was health and in the moment.”
A buddhist monk from the nearby Deer Park Monastery, where Shandling was a parishioner, was one of many other guests who took the stage to honor the comedian’s memory through sketch, storytelling and song. Musical guests — included Ryan Adams, Johnny Depp, and Adam Sandler — played for the large crowd of mourners, which included Billy Crystal, Conan O’Brien, Albert Brooks, Ray Romano, Tim Allen, Eric Idle, Pauly Shore, Carrot Top, Demetri Martin, Warren Beatty, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Tom Petty, Phil Rosenthal, Jon Favreau, Peter Farrelly, Henry Winkler, Vince Vaughn, Michael Richards, Cheryl Hines, and Jeremy Piven.
Sarah Silverman, who had a small recurring role on The Larry Sanders Show, used some of her time on stage to recall how Shandling had helped her through a recent difficult time in her life: “When my mother died in August, he comforted me with a Buddhist expression that went, ‘Grief, teach me what I have to learn.’ What I’ve learned from grief is that she is a strange mistress who works in jagged, inconsistent unpredictable ways,” she said. “You may want to cry when you find out your close friend is gone, but grief says, ‘Nah, I’m going to go ahead and wait until you’re in line at Gelson’s in two weeks.’ My mind knows that he is gone, but my body, my bones are positive that he’s just in Hawaii.”