There are some labors of love that should remain unseen personal projects. Judd Apatow’s The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling does not fall into that category.
His love letter to Garry Shandling which originally premiered on HBO and went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special adds additional layers in it’s Digital download and DVD release.
There’s an element of insider nature to the documentary. Stand up comedians have their own language that for those not immersed in the world of comedy might not fluently speak, but the sentiments they express are universal. You’ll see a bevy of them speak fondly on the topic of Garry, including Jim Carrey, Conan O’Brien, Sacha Baron Cohen, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman, Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Dave Coulier, and Jerry Seinfeld speak of the late comedian with reverence and fascination.
While the main documentary itself is a treasure trove at nearly 4 hours long, the extras are ones where you can see that Apatow struggled to cut them from the film. A personal favorite of mine features Jeff Goldblum which of course is as Goldblum-y as it gets. There’s also unaired standup with Shandling, and a director’s commentary that can be checked out for a meta level insight.
Garry Shandling himself was of course a fascinating character and worthy of more than just 4 hours of exploration of his life (one would hope that ANYONE’S life summed up at the end would fill more than 4 hours of interesting content). In some ways the documentary is as much about Apatow’s relationship to Shandling than Shandling himself.
There are so many dynamic characters, insightful spirituality, impressions, and unexpected stories in The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling that the run time flies by.
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is out now on Digital and DVD.
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