It's Garry Shandling's Show
It's Garry Shandling's Show is one of the first original
programs created by the fledgling Showtime network in the mid-80's to
compete with original HBO comedies like Not Necessarily the News.
The 30-minute sitcom starred Shandling as, more or less, himself - a
neurotic, somewhat self-obsessed ("how's my hair?") stand-up
comedian who just happened to be aware he was a TV sitcom character. Garry
spent just as much time interacting with the studio audience as he did the
regular cast members, offering up opening monologues and show-closing
summations of the episode's events. This is known in the business as
"breaking the fourth wall," and had famously been done
previously by George Burns and Gracie Allen on their 1950s sitcom.
Garry's show took things a step farther by allowing all of the
supporting characters in on the joke, as well. Garry's friends would come
by to get the audience's opinions about their problems, chastise Garry for
annoying the home viewers with his problems, and so on. On one episode,
Garry allowed the studio audience to come down and have a party in his
apartment while he was away; in another he moved out of town only to see
the show taken over by Red Buttons; when he tried to return, his friends
admitted they liked Red better and wanted him to stay.
Storylines were often manipulated by Garry to create more favorable
outcomes, or simply to speed things along (one episode ended years later,
for example). On America's Presidential Election Night in 1988, Showtime
presented a live episode wherein Garry brought in Soul Train host
Don Cornelius to incorrectly announce that Michael Dukakis had soundly
defeated George Bush Sr.
Although a critical and niche success it lasted for only about 70
episodes. The show was later picked up by Fox Broadcasting Company from
1988 to 1990 as part of its Sunday night lineup; FOX started the show from
the beginning, but due to longer seasons for network shows versus cable,
had caught up by the time the show left FOX in 1989. It continued for one
more year on Showtime.
The show introduced much of the country to Shandling and paved the way
for his more successful run as late-night talk show host Larry Sanders on
HBO's The Larry Sanders Show.
The show's bouncy, well-remembered theme song was called "This is
the theme to Garry's Show", and was often a target of ridicule and
disdain by the other castmembers.