Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ricky Gervais Interviews Garry Shandling

Amy Wallace's GQ profile of Garry Shandling mentions a very awkward interview he did with Ricky Gervais. I bumped onto the interview on YouTube and have linked embedded the segments below. This is how Wallace introduces that discussion:
IIn 2006 the UK's Channel 4 aired a special called Ricky Gervais Meets…Garry Shandling that became an instant sensation among connoisseurs of comedy. The premise, which Gervais had already tried out with Larry David a year earlier, was for the British comedian to pay a visit to one of his heroes. They'd talk about the craft of being funny. Hilarity would ensue.

From the moment the two men meet, in Shandling's kitchen, it's clear something is wrong. Shandling seems put out—irritated, even. "Don't touch me," he says when Gervais puts a hand on his shoulder. Gervais appears nervous, confused by Shandling's disapproval. As Shandling puts his contacts in over the sink, Gervais scolds him for putting the lenses at risk, and Shandling looks so peeved you think he may call the whole thing off. "What are you, controlling?" he asks. "You're giving me advice on how to put my contact lenses in?"
And so on. Yes, awkward. Here's what Shandling had to say about it:
While completing the DVD extras for Sanders, Shandling had been struck by the idea that Gervais would be a great addition. Though he'd never appeared on the show, Gervais had spoken openly about how Sanders inspired him. So Garry called Gervais and asked if he'd do it. The answer was yes, but Gervais also had a request. While he was in Garry's home, could they also shoot his Channel 4 show? Shandling agreed, and all was well until the day of the dueling interviews, when wires got crossed. Garry says he assumed they would shoot the "visit" for the DVD extra first, because "that laid-back, not-on tone is good preparation for saying, 'Let's turn it on'" later, for Gervais's special.

But when Shandling walked into his kitchen, he realized instantly that Gervais thought the Channel 4 special was being shot first. Gervais was on—extremely so—and so were several cameras. Garry could have said something but wanted to see what would happen if he played it out. What if he stayed in the same low-affect head space he was in to do his DVD extras? Could he reach Gervais without explicitly identifying the problem? Could he bring Gervais's energy level down? 
"It's fascinating, really," Garry tells me. "We both became locked into the shows we were each doing, and it became a bit of a boxing match. Because he's trying to get me to do the show that he needs, and I'm trying to get him to do nothing. I was trying to pull Ricky into the moment."
Makes sense. See for yourself.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

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