His persona was an anxiety-ridden, grimacing, guarded, confused man on the verge of losing control. After a couple of years on the road, a talent scout from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson booked him to appear as a guest in 1981. Shandling substituted for Carson on a regular basis until 1987, when he left to focus on his cable show leaving Jay Leno as permanent guest host and Carson's eventual successor.
Shandling began his career writing for sitcoms such as Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter. He made a successful stand-up performance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and became a frequent guest-host on the show. Shandling was for a time considered the leading contender to replace Carson (other hopefuls were Joan Rivers, David Letterman and David Brenner).
In 1986 he created It's Garry Shandling's Show for the pay cable channel Showtime. It was nominated for four Emmy Awards (including one for Shandling) and lasted until 1990. His second show, The Larry Sanders Show, which began airing on HBO in 1992, was even more successful.
During his three-decade career, Shandling was nominated for 19 Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards, along with many other awards and nominations. He served as host of the Grammy Awards four times and as host of the Emmy Awards three times.
Here's a video clip of one of his many performances doing stand-up comedy on Comic Relief.
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