The Larry Sanders Show

From Academic Kids

The Larry Sanders Show is the name of a satirical situation comedy television series that originally screened from 1992 to 1998 on the HBO cable television network in the USA. It starred former standup comedian Garry Shandling as the show's vain, self-obsessed, neurotic host, Larry Sanders. The series, which was partly inspired by Shandling's stint as a guest host on The Tonight Show, is ranked by many critics and fans alongside Seinfeld as one of the best TV comedies of the decade.

The series was a unique satire on the behind-the-scenes problems and relationships of a network talk show host, his staff and their guests. The plot and situations found in each episode drew heavily from the real life world of shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show and The Arsenio Hall Show, although some aspects were definitely exaggerated.

The series was particularly notable because the offstage segments of the show had no 'laugh track' (most situation comedies are either taped before a live audience or dubbed with canned laughter); however it cleverly kept a foot in both camps, so to speak, because the 'onstage' segments depicting the Larry Sanders Show in production were filmed before a live audience like a real Tonight show. It was also renowned (or notorious) for its no-holds-barred language, and featured four-letter words and profanities galore -- a luxury made possible by being screened on cable TV, which is not subject to the same censorship restrictions that apply on American free-to-air TV.

Each episode featured celebrity guests, who usually played themselves as celebrity guests of the "Larry Sanders Show," and often were the primary source of conflict and turmoil between Sanders and his co-workers. Guests included Elvis Costello, Chris Farley, Sharon Stone, Danny DeVito and others. One of the most memorable guest spots was the cameo appearance in the final episode by X-Files star David Duchovny, who performed an hilarious parody of the Sharon Stone 'flashing' scene from Basic Instinct.

In addition to Shandling, the show also starred Rip Torn as Arthur, the show's producer, Jeffrey Tambor as Larry's egotistical sidekick Hank Kingsley, Janeane Garofalo, Scott Thompson, Linda Doucett, Penny Johnson and others.

Directors and writers of note include David Mirkin (The Simpsons, Get A Life), Paul Flaherty (SCTV), Carol Leifer (Seinfeld), comedian Jeff Cesario, and Adam Resnick (Late Night with David Letterman, Get A Life).

The series also screened in Australia on free-to-air television on Network Ten (in a late-night timeslot, and with some censoring of language) and (unedited) on the Foxtel cable network's Comedy Channel. It also aired in the UK on BBC Two, originally in late-night slots despite calls by fans and critics for a peak-time screening. Regular repeats later appeared on UK Satellite television on the Paramount Comedy Channel. It is currently being repeated on the Irish television network "RTE TWO".

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