‘Garry Shandling’s Show’ co-creator — Gary ‘had demons’
Alan Zwiebel started writing jokes for Borsht belt comics. His big break came when he was hired a writer for the original "Saturday Night Live".
This opened many doors that would lead to, among so many other TV things, “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
He's also collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award winning play “700 Sundays,” Martin Short’s Broadway hit “Fame Becomes Me,” and six off-Broadway plays including “Bunny Bunny – Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy”, which he adapted from his best-selling book and is planning to return to the New York stage.
While at SNL he helped create "Rosanne Rosanadanna" and Emily Litella for Gilda Radner. The two became close friends as well. Radner's last television appearance would be on another of Zwiebel's co-creations, "It's Gary Shandling's Show" about comedian Gary Shandling.
Zwiebel, who's doing a virtual event Aug. 31 at the Princeton Jewish Center, spoke with me about his "brother" Gary Shandling.
"Gary was a very talented writer. He was a good friend. He had a big heart. But he had demons," Zwiebel said. "Because he didn't have a relationship like a marriage or children, the show became his relationship. It was everything and it became difficult as the years went on."
Zwiebel's life was different, and there were funny situations that couldn't be used in the show.
"I had a wife and three kids and I was commissioner of my son's little league, and we almost had to move because all the parents hated me because I rescheduled the rainout during the Finklesteins Bar Mitzvah, so six kids from the same team couldn't play that day," he said. "I wanted to write about it, but Gary in our show played a single guy who was a comic and lived alone. So Gary and I in the last years of our relationship became frayed."
This has caused a lot of regret, Zwiebel said.
"One of the reasons I wrote 'Laugh Lines' was because with Gary, we were slowly making our way back to being friends, My wife, Robin, called him when Gary was appearing in Atlantic City and she said 'I'm bringing Alan down with me, I'm putting you both in a room and you're not coming out until you're friends again."
They got close, but fate got in the way.
"With Gar, we were slowly making our way back to completing the circle to being friends," Zwiebel said. "I was out in LA, working on a script with Billy Crystal. Gary and I made plans to have dinner. They fell through. I had to come back to New Jersey and we said, 'We'll speak Thursday night,' and he died Thursday morning.
Shandling died March 24, 2016 from a pulmonary embolism.
"One of the reasons I wrote 'Laugh Lines' was to revisit Gary and complete the circle," Zwiebel said.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday to Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m.. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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