Precisely one month after Garry Shandling’s death, friends and family of the late comedian gathered for a memorial on Sunday at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.
The ceremony, hosted by filmmaker Judd Apatow, honored the life of the TV icon, who died of a heart attack March 24 at 66. The program drew inspiration from Shandling’s affinity for humor, weaving lighthearted jokes and thoughtful reflections across its near three-hour run. Kevin Nealon, Jeffrey Tambor, Sarah Silverman, Conan O’Brien, Billy Crystal, Carrot Top, Ray Romano, and Adam Sandler were among the throng of collaborators that showed up to pay their respects.
“The sad irony of all this is that Garry is reunited with his mother for all eternity,” Nealon quipped, according to the The New York Times.
Apatow’s speech struck a more serious note, recounting the way Shandling catapulted his career by hiring him to write for a Grammy Awards telecast, later recruiting him as a writer slash producer on his heralded HBO comedy The Larry Sanders Show. “Garry was like a second father to me,” Apatow said. “I think a lot of people felt that way.”
As the remembrance unfolded, speakers recited from Shandling’s stockpile of jokes, some previously unheard. They touched on a number of more somber topics, too: his older brother’s death from cystic fibrosis; his $100 million lawsuit (eventually settled) against Brad Grey, his former manager and the executive producer of Larry Sanders; his testimony in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping trial; his recent health problems, including diagnoses of hyperthyroidism and pancreatitis, and major surgery; and his immersion into Zen Buddhism.
“The truth is, I think it was very hard to be Garry,” Nealon said. “He was complex, at times neurotic, persnickety, high maintenance, a perfectionist with the highest standards. He could be a handful.”
Adam Sandler closed the memorial with a rendition of George Harrison’s 1973 smash single, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth),” a simple plea for peace and serenity.
Later, Judd Apatow posted an Instagram photo of advice Shandling had penned to himself as a young comedian in 1982. “Pretty good advice from Garry to himself when he was a young rising comic,” Apatow wrote. “Good advice to anyone on anything really.”