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Series / It's Garry Shandling's Show

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It's Garry Shandling's Show was a late-1980s comedy on Showtime (which would later be rebroadcast on Fox) that turned No Fourth Wall into an art form. Comedian Garry Shandling played comedian Garry Shandling, who not only knew he lived inside a sitcom, but had a Studio Audience "inside" his house. (Sometimes their presence there waiting for him would surprise him when he first came out of his bedroom in the morning.) Garry's visitors, friends and neighbors, while not possessing studio audiences of their own, were all aware of his, and everyone made a point of addressing the audience at some point in the show.

The entire point of the show, around which almost all of its plots revolved, was deconstructing, subverting and inverting all the standard tropes of broadcast television sitcoms. Shandling would later use this same method to skewer late night television with The Larry Sanders Show.

"This is the list for Garry's tropes. The list for Garry's tropes..."

  • As Himself: This was the premise, but in-universe Garry referred to himself as The Danza.
  • Censor Box: Well, more like Censor Dot. In one episode, Garry strips down to just a black dot on a chain covering his genitals.
  • Christmas Episode
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Once the Sitcom tropes had generally been mined out, guest stars from classic programs and political figures allowed exploration of tropes ranging from Musicals to health movies.
  • Flashback: Courtesy of Garry's flashback booth (marked "It's Garry Shandling's Flashback Booth").
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  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Nancy gets amnesia (Garry: "Our first amnesia episode!") but gets her memory back using the flashback booth.
  • Locked in a Freezer: With Garry commenting that he hates this trope but the nature of the show does not allow them to skip it.
  • Love Goddess: Zsa Zsa Gabor in a two-part special as the "Goddess of Commitment". When Garry and Phoebe finally commit to their relationship, she bursts in and impatiently starts moving Phoebe's stuff into Garry's home
  • Musical Episode: In the third season, musical numbers accompanied a plot where Grant goes through puberty and a female classmate makes advances on him.
  • No Fourth Wall: And how. Gags included Garry asking the people in the studio not to shout out a secret he was trying to keep or tip off his neighbors to the surprise party he was planning.
    • On a more literal note, Garry would go from scene to scene by stepping off the current set and walking (or driving a golf cart) to the next set.
  • Opening Narration: In keeping with No Fourth Wall.
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  • Postmodernism
  • Sitcom: Subverted big time.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • The first couple seasons of Seinfeld played a lot like a less Metafictional version of this show. Not accidental, since Jerry Seinfeld had been a longtime associate of Shandling, and Larry David even wrote one episode (credited to "Mac Brandes"). Frequent IGSS writers Tom Gammill and Max Pross also moved on to Seinfeld.
    • Some of the show's Lampshading spirit lives on in The Simpsons, where staff writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss ended up after its run was over (Sam Simon also had a hand in the writing).
    • Shandling himself went on to create The Larry Sanders Show which further explored the disconnect between the world of television and the world of reality (albeit in a less fourth-wall breaking way).
  • Subverted Trope: Just about every last one of them!
  • This Is a Song: The theme song (see Title Theme Tune below)
  • This Is the Part Where...: Used frequently. It's also part of the opening theme.
    "We're almost to the part / of where I start to whistle / Then we'll watch It's Garry Shandling's Show." (cue whistling solo)
  • Title Theme Tune: Notable in that the No Fourth Wall nature of the show forces the cast to hear the song every week season after season. Some find it reassuring, others come to hate the bouncy little tune.
    Nancy: Aw, Garry, not the theme song! I feel like I'm on a kid's show!
    • Also notable for its self-awareness as a theme song. For example, it starts "This is the theme to Garry's show / the theme to Garry's show / Garry called me up and asked if I could write his theme song..."
  • Whole Plot Reference: There were episodes that parodied The Graduate, The Natural and Driving Miss Daisy.


Example of: