Critically praised as “the best-written, most daring comedy series on television,” The Larry Sanders Show broke records as the first-ever cable series to receive 56 Emmy Awards and nominations. It also won the industry’s premiere competitions, including the prestigious Peabody Award and numerous Golden Globe, CableAce, American Comedy and Writers’ Guild of America honors. With its original premise and powerful ensemble cast, it was also chosen “Best Program” in the annual Electronic Media poll and “Best Comedy” by the Television Critics’ Association.
The series broke television comedy ground with its novel concept: a sharp-eyed parody of life at a late-night talk show, in front of and behind the cameras. It stars Garry Shandling – also creator, executive producer and writer - as “Larry Sanders,” a neurotic late-night television host who is constantly attempting to keep control over his staff of strong personalities. His on-air sidekick “Hank Kingsley” (Jeffrey Tambor), struggles to get dates, gets behind peculiar business deals and is endlessly envious of Larry’s fame, and “Artie” (Rip Torn), Larry’s protective executive producer who plays his star’s paranoia to his advantage. Joining them is “Paula“ (Janeane Garofalo) the talent booker with endless cynicism and wit.
In addition to the office bickering and backbiting, there is no shortage of funny situations presenting challenges to the staff. Advertisers ask for offbeat celebrity endorsements (Hank is usually happy to accommodate) and odd problems arise with celebrity guests (such as David Duchovny, who develops a crush on Larry). Issues are equally out in the open with Larry’s disastrous love life (which includes a girlfriend and two ex-wives).
High-profile celebrity guest stars have appeared, playing themselves as “guests” appearing on Larry’s show, including Sarah Jessica Parker, k.d. lang, Helen Hunt and Howard Stern. Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, Mandy Patinkin, Rosie O'Donnell and David Duchovny all received Emmy nominations for their appearances on the show.
Late-night viewers can finally get their share of corporate nastiness, egotistical celebrities and the bitter fallout of failed office romances. Because when it comes to The Larry Sanders Show, comedy isn’t pretty. It’s brilliant.