Before they headlined stand-up specials, starred in movies or hosted their own series, these comedic giants earned their stripes on Garry Shandling’s fictional talk show. Here they are (in alphabetical order).
1. Judd Apatow
Season 4, Episode 4 “The Bump”
Before the writer-director-producer extraordinaire was backing blockbuster comedies, Apatow started as a frequent writer and producer on Garry Shandling’s showbiz sitcom. In “The Bump,” Apatow explores every late-night host’s worst nightmare: too many guests, too little time.
2. Dana Carvey
Season 1, Episode 4 “The Guest Host”
The series often featured rising comedians as themselves. So when Dana Carvey filled in as host while Larry (Shandling) was on vacation, he hosted as Dana Carvey, Saturday Night Live and Wayne’s World jokes included.
3. Janeane Garofalo
Season 2, Episode 8 “Artie’s Gone”
Prior to SNL and Wet Hot American Summer, the comedienne played Larry’s dutiful talent booker, Paula. Though Paula was often overseen or overruled in an office full of (mostly) male writers and producers, the series carved out entire episodes for her, ultimately landing Garofalo two Emmy noms.
4. Bob Odenkirk
Season 2, Episode 5 “Larry’s Agent”
Just before Mr. Show with Bob and David ignited a slow-simmering cult-following similar to that of The Larry Sanders Show, Odenkirk made frequent appearances as Larry’s out-of-control agent, Stevie Grant. Sleeping with staff, snorting cocaine in conference rooms, Stevie engaged in every HR nightmare you can name -- all for the benefit of his favorite client, of course.
5. Sarah Silverman
Season 5, Episode 5 “The New Writer”
In an episode that would predetermine Silverman’s signature stamp on feminist comedy, the now stand-up superstar stood in as the new, boundary-pushing writer, Wendy, who makes more than a few of the male writers uncomfortable.
6. Paul Simms
Season 1, Episode 3 “The Spiders Episode”
You won’t see Simms in an episode, but his voice everywhere -- having scripted some of today’s most thought-provoking comedies, including Flight of the Conchords, Girls, Divorce and more. Unafraid to pair hilarity and disparity, Simms is the scribe behind some of Larry Sanders’ pivotal, dramatic moments.
7. Jon Stewart
Season 5, Episode 1 “Everybody Loves Larry”
Before he became a host all his own on The Daily Show, Stewart was slyly coveted by executives at The Larry Sanders Show to take over as “permanent guest host.” In the Season 5 premiere, Larry’s producer Artie (Rip Torn) is worried sick at the thought of a shady coup by Stewart and the network -- but Larry is too distracted by Stewart’s flirty celebrity guest, David Duchovny, to notice.