If you are a Garry Shandling fan–and I most certainly am–dig this long profile on the comedian’s comedian’s comedian by Amy Wallace over at GQ.com:
Conan’s not the only one to use Shandling as a sounding board. For the past five years especially, the 60-year-old comic, who counts both George Carlin and Johnny Carson as mentors, has devoted himself to mentoring others. A generation of people at the top creative rungs of Hollywood credit Shandling with shaping both their material and their careers.
“There are so many people who lean on him to be their sage in these matters of what’s dramatic—not just what’s funny, but what’s effective, and what’s real, and why what’s funny is what’s real,” says Robert Downey Jr., who compares Shandling to “a Jewish E.T. He’s kind of vulnerable while at the same time very probing. And he’s got serious opinions.”
Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau dubs him “the Godfather.” Baron Cohen sought Shandling’s advice on both Borat and Brüno. Silverman says Shandling has taught her how to embrace the silences during her stand-up act. And Apatow still counts the night Shandling hired him to write jokes for the 1991 Grammy Awards show as “the biggest break of my career.” Apatow later wrote for The Larry Sanders Show, and their collaboration continues: Shandling often attends table reads of Apatow’s films and gives notes on the scripts. (Apatow says Shandling had a “monumental” effect on The 40-Year-Old Virgin.) “There’s nobody better in the world than Garry at telling me what’s working and what’s not,” Apatow says. “I’m just very lucky that I’ve had his input.”