Garry Shandling—who died today at the age of 66—was a stand-up, a TV writer, and an occasional big-screen scene-stealer. But he’ll probably be best remembered as the star and creator of The Larry Sanders Show, the mid-‘90s cable comedy that began as a lampoon of the late-night talk-show wars, but evolved into something deeper and nervier: An unflinching, doggedly hilarious look at the narcissism, anxiety, and selfishness that’s all but second nature to the people who entertain us. But Shandling, who played Sandlers as a lovable weasel, never made the show a bum trip. A veteran of Hollywood since his early twenties, when he worked on such hits as Sanford & Son, Shandling clearly loved showbiz, what with its weirdo occupants, deftly managed ego battles, and raw reservoirs of talent. Sanders was, in its dark-humored own way, an affectionate ode to an industry whose rampant craziness and short-lived joys Shandling had witnessed first-hand.

And though Shandling was almost always praised for the writing on Larry Sanders—and deservedly so—he was also a crackerjack performer, an actor never more in his element than when Larry was stuck in an awkward moment. There are dozens of primo Sanders clips to rewatch at a moment like this, but my favorite might be this encounter between Larry and David Duchovny, who stars as himself, and who may or may not be harboring a crush on the talk-show host. Sanders’ discomfort is all over Shandling’s face, as he stiffens his smile and darts his eyes, pausing to collect his wits (Shandling was one of comedy’s all-time greatest pausers). Watch the clip. And it almost goes without saying, but: No flipping.

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In Garry Shandling, The World Loses a Comedy Pioneer