Friday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the host paid tribute to legendary comedian Garry Shandling, who died unexpectedly on Thursday. Shandling was revered in the comedy world, a fact that becomes apparent watching Fallon recount some of Shandling’s greatest bits like he’s hosting The Chris Farley Show. (He eventually segued into a performance of the theme from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, AKA “the greatest TV theme song of all time.”) Though Shandling appeared on The Tonight Show while it was hosted by Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien, he was never on Fallon’s version of the show. So the host doesn’t share personal stories like Conan O’Brien’s moving account of Shandling helping him after losing The Tonight Show. But he did speak to Shandling’s legacy:
He’s one of the greatest standup comedians ever. I think if you ever—if you’re thinking about getting into standup comedy or if you just like watching it, you can’t go through without seeing Garry Shandling, and studying this guy.
Fallon then gave the audience the chance to do just that, playing a clip of Shandling’s first appearance on The Tonight Show back in the Johnny Carson days. Better yet, the staff of Fallon’s Tonight Show put together a video gallery of some of Shandling’s best appearances. Here’s Shandling in his element, joking about politics, the Carson/Rivers feud, and, of course, his hair.
Shandling—“a young comedian from Tuscon”— in 1981:
“Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Garry Shandling!” Shandling’s first time as guest-host, 1983:
The (Very Pointedly Aimed at Joan Rivers) Guest Host Oath, 1986:
Shandling’s last appearance on Carson’s Tonight Show, 1992: