ABC News’ Cathy Becker reports:
During its six-season run on HBO in the 1990s, “The Larry Sanders Show” was a sitcom with a serrated edge, serving up painfully awkward comic moments.
The show starred Garry Shandling as the selfish, neurotic Sanders, who hosted “The Larry Sanders Show,” a fictional late-night talk show. It focuses on the behind-the-scenes work to produce the show, and often featured celebrity guest stars playing themselves.
Jeffrey Tambor shined as Sanders’ sidekick, Hank Kingsley, who was known for his “Hey, now” catchphrase.
Mary Lynn Rajskub played Mary Lou. Penny Johnson Jerald was Beverly, Sanders’ assistant. Wallace Langham was Phil, the show’s head writer, and Rip Torn played Sanders’ executive producer, Artie.
At a reunion for Entertainment Weekly magazine, the cast reflected on how cutting-edge the show was.
“Well, first of all, it was very exciting because I knew from the very beginning what I was into because the writing was unbelievable. … We had the best writing,” Jerald said. “I mean, we did some improvising, yes. But, truly, it was there on the paper.”
Her co-stars agreed.
The show has been influential. It’s organic, realistic style of filming inspired other hit comedies, including “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Office,” “Entourage” and “30 Rock.”
Langham explained the appeal, saying that even though the show was set against the backdrop of Hollywood, it was “an office comedy. You know these people. You work with these people very day. And so it’s relatable.”
Rajskub agreed. She’s done a lot of work in TV since the show wrapped in 1998, but said nothing else compares.
“I haven’t really done any comedy that comes close to having the depth and the jokes,” she added.
The show seemed so true to life, and it sometimes was.
“Now and then, I would get a call from … one or more of the actual talk shows on saying, ‘That actually happened. Did somebody tell you that?’” Shandling said.
Torn said what he loved about the show was that the cast was “a great team.
“It was like sports, you know? You just keep going. You don’t quit. You don’t stop. You just keep going. That was the great thing that I loved about it,” he said.
Shandling, who co-created and co-executive produced the show, said he was proud of how influential the show became.
“It was very well intended,” he said, adding that he’ll sometimes stumble upon something that resonates while surfing TV channels. “I see it and I go, ‘Oh,’ and it feels like the writers room to me that we had on the show. And that’s when I know that there’s some similar sensibility.”
Rip Torn loved the show so much he tried to get Shandling to do more seasons of it.
Rajskub and Jerald said they’ve both gone on to do good work on TV because of the exposure they got on the show.
Jerald added: “Most of us got jobs right after ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ because of ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ I know that for a fact for myself.”
The cast said getting together was just like old times.
“It’s as if, the way we just talked today, the way it just fell together, this, the whole thing, it was not one bit different, Tambor said. “There wasn’t one thing that was different.”