Low-key stand-up comedian and comic actor. Shandling started off in Hollywood as a sitcom writer for such shows as "Sanford and Son" and "Welcome Back, Kotter". He started his standup comedy career in 1978, writing and performing his own material in comedy clubs across the country. After three years of playing clubs, Shandling got his first big break when he appeared on Carson's "Tonight Show". He continued working clubs and doing guest shots on the talk show circuit for a number of years. Shandling's next milestone came in 1984 when he wrote and starred in his own Showtime comedy special "Garry Shandling Alone In Vegas". He then created and starred in his own spoof of a TV sitcom, "It's Garry Shandling's Show" (1986-90), a vehicle that showed his loving contempt for the genre. This blazed a path that other comics would follow in exploring sitcom conventions (e.g. "Seinfeld") while simultaneously moving the form into a somewhat warped version of the real world. This format harkens back to the golden era of TV (e.g., "The Jack Benny Program" and "The Burns and Allen Show"), but throws a neurotic modern curve to it.
Shandling's next effort, "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98), a backstage lampoon of the late-night talk show circuit, again demonstrated its creator's innovative approach to TV entertainment. Shandling made the leap to features, first appearing in a cameo role in the independent "The Night We Never Met" (1993), followed by a supporting role as Warren Beatty's best friend in the romantic remake "Love Affair" (1994). He also received strong notices for his performance as Hollywood producer in "Hurlyburly" (1998) and co-wrote and starred as an alien with an unusual reproductive organ in the big screen comedy "What Planet Are You From?" (2000).