Comedian Garry Shandling was a comedian, mentor, innovator and above all, friend, to countless comics. He was even a lover to one in particular. He was also the gracious host of weekly basketball games at his home.
Here’s a little taste of just what would go down during those intense games from a GQ interview in 2010.
Every Sunday he’s in Los Angeles, Shandling calls the game for noon. The invitation-only crowd gathers in his kitchen to drink coffee, and at twelve thirty everyone heads out the patio doors, past the pool, and down a series of steps into the lower yard. As is the custom, the first person to reach the half-court grabs a leaf blower and sweeps it clean. Then they play: three-on-three to seven points, win by two. When only the regulars show—they include Sarah Silverman, Kevin Nealon, David Duchovny, and Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg—no one sits out for long. Other times, you’re lucky to get on the court. Sacha Baron Cohen and Adam Sandler have played, as have Ben Stiller and Billy Crystal. Judd Apatow plays infrequently, but only, he says, because “Sarah’s better than me, and it’s shameful for me, as a man, to accept that.”
The sweat, the speed, the lack of pretense—it gets sort of elemental. “It’s stripped-down,” says Peter Tolan, one of Garry’s best friends and a former chief writer on The Larry Sanders Show, Shandling’s pioneering metacomedy on HBO. “People show themselves truthfully in a time of competition, and that’s what he’s interested in.” After a few hours, Shandling leads everyone up to the house to eat takeout and watch sports on TV. There is no agenda at Camp Garry, as Silverman calls it. But it’s not a party—Shandling is adamant about that. Instead, it’s something of an incubator. Aficionados of Sanders may recall an episode in which Duchovny, playing himself, admits to having sexual feelings for Sanders. That’s just one moment of TV genius that was hatched on Shandling’s court.
“I was guarding him,” Duchovny recalls, “and you know, my pelvis was near his rear end, which happens sometimes when you’re guarding a man. And I said, ‘It would be funny if I had a crush on you but I was straight. I don’t know what that means, but that seems like it would be funny.’ And Garry said, ‘Yeah. Yeah. Your instincts are good.’ Garry’s always talking about your instincts.”
In honor of Garry, his friends gathered together this past weekend for one last game in Schandling’s backyard. For old time’s sake…
Judd Apatow posted the photo on Instagram. Apatow was joined by Kathy Griffin, Kevin Nealon, Bill Maher, Jeffrey Tambor and many more funny, and probably sad, people.