"You know how, when you are driving past a herd of cows, someone always rolls down the window and goes 'mooooo'? Do you suppose the cows are in the pasture saying "Hey, was that a cow driving that truck? How can he afford a nice truck like that?"
Yep, that's when he got me. Who doesn't do that? Rolls down the window and yells, "mooo" at the cows? Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm too provincially rural. That joke was from 1981; from the Tonight Show; and maybe it's silly, but it's the first thing that popped into my mind when I read that Garry Shandling had died.
My oldest was five; my youngest three. I worked second shift at the hospital and late night TV was my de-stresser. I'd come home, check on the sleepyheads in their beds, fix myself a snack, settle into my corduroy rocking chair and flick on Johnny. I found a lot of guys, funny guys, via the Tonight Show -- Jay Leno and David Brenner and this guy. This guy who always seemed so happy.
It's hard to fake happiness. There's a crinkle in the eyes, the lift of the brow. Happiness is something that pours out. Someone can smile and still look angry -- if they don't truly mean it. I think Garry Shandling was a happy guy. I liked that.
I watched "It's Garry Shandling's Show" on Showtime. That came later. I already knew I liked him by then. I'd seen him on Johnny's show, and on David's. He was a guy who always made me feel good, no matter how bad my day had been.
I'm at a point in my life where I'm looking for joy. There's too much anger and vitriol in the world. Everything seems hard. Everybody's mad and nobody's happy. Everyone has an agenda; a bone to pick. It weighs me down. I want to yell, "Please stop!"
I'm going to miss Garry Shandling, even though before today I hadn't thought about him for a long time. He's folded into my memory; a memory of nicer, simpler days.
Days of joy.