Now, building on The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, a group of Shandling’s friends have reactivated his Twitter account and are sharing passages from the diaries that comprise the spine of the documentary. “Friends who love Garry, working with his estate, are opening up Garry’s twitter,” the first message reads. “We will occasionally tweet material from the writings, notes and journals he has left us: ‘Let life live through you. Presence. Compassion. Kindness.'”
Shandling died at his home at age 66. While the cause was initially believed to be a heart attack, an autopsy later revealed it to be pulmonary thrombosis. From his stand-up rise in the 1980s to his influential series on Fox and HBO, Shandling continues to influence generations of comedians, a stature reflected in the film as well as the Twitter feed. Apatow, who did a radio interview with Shandling when he was just 16, went on to write jokes for him and then get a major boost to his career as a writer and producer on Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show. In the film, he calls Shandling the most important professional mentor of his career.
While many of the diary entries reflect Shandling’s deeply spiritual nature and exploration of human consciousness, they also attest to his never having been above a good bawdy line. “My penis is all caught up in trying to be like a penis in the movies: a macho penis, yet one with a heart,” jokes the latest tweet, sent this morning.
Reaction to the film has been hitting Twitter in recent days. Here’s a sampling:
HBO also has made several extras available along with the main film, including this star- and insight-packed 12-minute visit to a comedy club’s green room, with Jerry Seinfeld and Shandling breaking down their comedy. Chris Rock and Kevin Nealon are among those in the intimate group.
And here is the trailer for the documentary, which consists of two installments totaling about four-and-a-half hours: