Tag Archives: The Tonight Show

Jew of the Week: Garry Shandling

Shandling at the Emmy's (Credit: Alan Light)

Shandling at the Emmy’s (Credit: Alan Light)

Garry Shandling (1949-2016) was born in Chicago and grew up in Tucson. He studied electrical engineering, marketing, and creative writing at the University of Arizona. While working for an ad agency in Los Angeles, Shandling wrote a script for the TV show Sanford and Son, and sold it to NBC. This started a long and prosperous script-writing career. Several years later, Shandling got into a tragic car accident that almost killed him, yet ended up inspiring him to become a comedian. He performed his first stand-up act at LA’s famous comedy club, The Comedy Store. Soon, Shandling would make a guest appearance on The Tonight Show, and become its guest host, filling in when host Johnny Carson was away. In 1985, Shandling created a revolutionary sitcom, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, where the characters on screen are aware that they are actors in a TV show, and even interact with the audience. The show won multiple awards, including a ‘Funniest Male Performance’ for Shandling. In 1992, Shandling created an even more popular program, a mock talk show called The Larry Sanders Show. This show earned 56 Emmy nominations, revived HBO, and is often credited with inspiring Entourage, 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Many comedians and writers (including Judd Apatow) started out working on this program, which has been ranked among the greatest shows of all time by the likes of TV Guide and TIME Magazine. Shandling helped countless younger comedians refine their art, Sacha Baron Cohen among them. Aside from television, Shandling appeared in 17 films, including voicing a character in the upcoming The Jungle Book. Sadly, Shandling passed away last week after suffering a heart attack. Fellow comedian Jeffrey Tambor said of him: “He redesigned the wheel of comedy and was the kindest and funniest of geniuses.”

Words of the Week

“I sold my house this week. I got a pretty good price for it, but it made my landlord mad as hell.”

“I remember learning to drive on my dad’s lap. Did you guys ever do that? He’d work the brakes. I’d work the wheel. Then I went to take the driver’s test and sat on the examiner’s lap. I failed the exam. But he still writes to me. That’s the really nice part.”

– Garry Shandling

Jew of the Week: Lorne Michaels

America’s King of Comedy

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michael Lipowitz (b. 1944) was born in a kibbutz in Israel. While still a child, his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada where he grew up (and graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English). He first started working as a writer for the CBC, and by 1968 moved to Los Angeles to write for a couple of comedy shows. He briefly returned to Canada in the early 70s (by now officially known as Lorne Michaels) to star in a Canadian comedy show called The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. While working for NBC in 1975, Michaels co-created NBC’s Saturday Night, and served as its main writer and producer. The show was an instant hit, and quickly gained popularity across the country. Two years later, the program changed its name to Saturday Night Live. It has since won 36 Emmy Awards (with 156 nominations), and is consistently among the highest-rated late night TV shows. More significantly, the show launched the careers of some of the world’s best-known comedians, including Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman, and Will Ferrell. Last week, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary, making it one of America’s longest-running shows (and longest-running late night show). It has also been ranked among the greatest TV shows of all time. Meanwhile, Michaels has served as executive producer of the popular shows 30 Rock and Up All Night, as well as NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and since 2013, The Tonight Show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. All in all, Michaels played a key role in over 40 films and television programs. He has won many prestigious awards for his work, and was honoured with a star on both Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. Described as America’s “primary satirical voice” and the “father of American popular comedy”, Michaels is also a member of the Order of Canada, and the TV Academy Hall of Fame.

Words of the Week

Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.
– Sir Winston Churchill

Jew of the Week: Barbra Streisand

Top Female Singer of All Time

Barbra Streisand

Barbara Joan Streisand (b. 1942) was born in Brooklyn to parents whose families both immigrated from the former Russian Empire. Her father died soon after her birth, leaving her family in poverty. Streisand studied at the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva of Brooklyn, where she developed her singing abilities and gave her first solo performances. Starting in her teens she sang at many nightclubs and also started to act in stage performances. Her first big break was on The Tonight Show in 1961, and in 1962 she acted in a small Broadway role. The following year, Streisand released her first music album. An instant hit, it brought her two Grammy Awards. Returning to Broadway in 1964, she made a splash with her performance in Funny Girl, which put her on the cover of TIME Magazine. Streisand would go on to release an incredible 50 studio albums. She is still the best-selling female artist of all time, and the only female in the Top 10. At one point, she only lagged Elvis Presley and The Beatles in terms of albums sold, and many of her songs still hold records. She owns a total of 8 Grammy Awards, in addition to 5 Emmy Awards, a Tony and 2 Oscars! This makes Streisand among the most decorated entertainers of all time, and also among the most diverse, achieving success in film, stage, and music. Barbra was the first woman to produce a movie that she also directed, wrote, and starred in. She is also a great philanthropist, having personally raised over $25 million for charities, and has donated millions more from her own pockets. She has been listed among the most charitable celebrities in the world. Adding to her fervent support of Israel, Streisand will be performing several sold-out shows in the Holy Land this summer.

Words of the Week

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson