Conan O’Brien, one of an entire generation of comics and writers inspired by Garry Shandling and a close friend of the Larry Sanders Show great, paid tribute to the late comedian on Conan just hours after Shandling’s death at the age of 66. “This is a devastating shock to me and to just about everybody I know,” O’Brien said. “I’ve had about three hours now to process that Garry is gone and this just doesn’t seem real still, and I don’t know when it will.”
While Shandling will be remembered most for his unique style of comedy, O’Brien mourned Shandling, the man and the mentor. “He was obviously hysterically funny pretty much all the time, but he was also extremely sensitive, he was complicated, and he had a ton of empathy for other people, and I want to make that point, that is something in this business that is very rare,” O’Brien said. “He really did care about other people.”
O’Brien told the story about how, after he acrimoniously parted ways with The Tonight Show, he went on vacation to Hawaii with his family, and Shandling happened to be staying at the same hotel; the story from Shandling’s perspective was previously told in a 2010 GQ feature on the reclusive comedian. O’Brien and Shandling spent the entire vacation together, with Shandling helping to rehabilitate his friend.
“I was at a real low point, he counseled me, he cheered me up, he told me jokes, he told me about philosophy, he talked to me about how there are bigger things in the world and I was going to be fine,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien then shared a clip from the first time he hosted the Emmys and Shandling collaborated on a bit for that awards show, which O’Brien called “a moment for me that’s special, I’ll never forget it.”
Later on the show, Conan cut together a montage of Shandling’s best Late Night With Conan O’Brien moments.