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Live on tape from Hollywood, it's the Larry Sanders Show!
Superb late-night talk show satire, written by and starring Garry Shandling as the titular Larry Sanders, a self-centred and neurotic late-night talk show host Ã la David Letterman or Jay Leno. Adopting a curious format, the show was split between Larry's talk-show (recorded on videotape) and the back-stage exploits (recorded on film). This effortlessly presented the contrast between the professional showbiz world of the show and the petty, snide backstabbing environment behind the scenes, along with Larry's effortlessly smooth, constantly grinning and in-control stage persona and his insecure, paranoid off-camera personality. The contrast was helped by numerous real-life stars who agreed to play as 'guests' on Larry's show, including Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Roseanne Barr and David Duchovny, whose man-crush on Larry became a running gag.
Present to help (or hinder) Larry was his ultra-aggressive and tough-as-boots, but loyal, bulldog of a producer, Artie (Rip Torn), and Larry's pompous and egotistical sidekick, "Hey Now!" Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor), who despite his genial and bumbling stage presence was if anything even more paranoid, insecure and pathetic than Larry himself.
Provides examples of:
- Adam Westing / As Himself: All the guests.
- Adored by the Network: The unnamed network grooms Jon Stewart to replace Larry, believing he can get the same or better ratings at a fraction of Larry's salary.
- Catch Phrase: Several are associated with the Show Within a Show:
- Larry ends each of his monologues with "No flipping!" as he mimes clicking on a remote, as a mock warning not to change the channel during the first commercial break.
- Hank Kingsley uses his "Hey, now!" catch phrase during the show... and at pretty much all other times. He even gets fired from a Stunt Casting gig as a plumber on Caroline in The City because he insists on repeatedly ad-libbing his catch phrase.
- Celebrity Paradox: Averted on more than one occasion:
- Garry Shandling does have a separate existence from Larry Sanders. On Larry's final show, Sean Penn complains to Sanders about what a terrible and insecure actor Shandling (his co-star on a Real Life movie) is.
- Likewise, Paul Mooney plays Beverly's brother in one episode and is mentioned as a potential booking on the Show Within a Show in another.
- Executive Meddling: Apparently averted in Real Life, but a constant on the Show Within a Show.
- Flanderization: Over several seasons, Phil the writer became more obnoxious and less talented.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Hank previously sold a condo to Helen and Stanley Roper and later went on to sell houses to Sadam Hussain.
- Ho Yay: Larry and David Duchovny. No, really.
- The Man Behind the Man: Artie, to Larry.
- Product Placement: The Garden Weasel.
- Retraux: Larry's show, for the most part, mimics the style of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, even as contemporaneous late night shows moved away from Johnny's template in various ways.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Duchovny's interest in Larry.
- Screwed by the Network: The network sabotages Larry's show as they maneuver Jon Stewart to replace him.
- Show Within a Show: Also named The Larry Sanders Show.
- Stalker with a Crush: Not entirely villainous, but Duchovny's interest in Larry made Larry more than a little uncomfortable.
- Step Three: Profit: Nobody else shares Hank's vision for "Hank's Look-A-Round Café," a revolving restaurant. At street level. With no view.
Hank: Where you, and your food, go on an adventure!
- Studio Audience
- Stunt Casting: The producers got an awful lot of big names to appear on the show playing themselves. In-Universe, this is pretty much the only reason Hank Kingsley ever gets offered outside acting gigs - e.g., a guest spot as the janitor on Caroline in The City and a voice role in Disney's Hercules movie.
- Ted Baxter: Hank.
- The Eponymous Show
- Two for One Show
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Below average in appearance Larry is married to the gorgeous Jeannie in the first season and dates many beautiful actresses throughout (Mimi Rogers, Sharon Stone etc). Balding Hank also has a much younger and attractive wife.
- Outside the show Gary Shandling dated Linda Doucett, who, in addition to playing Hank's secretary Darlene, modeled for Playboy.