Conan O’Brien honored Garry Shandling, who died on Thursday, by remembering how the comedy icon helped him through the depression of his controversial “Tonight Show” exit.
“In the next few days, maybe weeks, you’ll be hearing a lot and reading a lot about Garry Shandling, the comedian,” the host said on Thursday night’s “Conan” on TBS.
O’Brien continued to describe how groundbreaking Shandling’s comedy was and how revered he is by other comedians, and then he said, “But right now, I’m not thinking of that aspect of Garry Shandling. I’m thinking of Garry Shandling the person. He was obviously hysterically funny pretty much all the time. He was also extremely sensitive. He was complicated. And he had a ton of empathy for other people. And I want to make that point. That is something in business, in comedy, that is very rare. He really did care about other people.”
The late-night host then explained how distraught and confused he was after the events in 2010 that led to him leaving NBC’s “The Tonight Show” so that Jay Leno could return. As a result, O’Brien’s wife suggested they take a week-long vacation to Hawaii so O’Brien can “get some sun for the first time in 40 years.”
“Garry just magically appeared, and he helped me a lot,” O’Brien recalled. “And that is what I’ve been thinking about this last couple of hours.”
Shandling had arrived to Hawaii and checked into the same hotel as O’Brien family the day before. After hearing talk of O’Brien’s arrival, Shandling sought him out.
“Suddenly, the phone rang, and I heard a voice. And it’s an unmistakable voice,” O’Brien remembered. “It said, ‘Conan, it’s Garry. I’m staying three doors down, we’re on an island, there’s no avoiding me.'”
They would end up spending the entire week together as Shandling helped O’Brien see his way out of a depressed haze.
“I was at a really low point,” the late-night veteran said.
That would help deepen their bond, which, as it happens, is pretty deep based on the evidence from TV.
Watch O’Brien remember his bromance with Shandling below:
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