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Comedy nerds have had it pretty good the past few years, but it’s not like all the recent brilliance came out of nowhere. A lot of those dark comedies and unhinged workplace sitcoms can be traced back to a single glorious run in the early 90s—a run that’s making its way to DVD this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Larry Sanders Show.

It’s the rare showbiz comedy that doesn’t shy away from the narcissism, backbiting and moral compromise that makes the entertainment industry so interesting. If you’ve ever wondered about the unique headspace that comes with appearing on television five days a week—and it’s been on a lot of minds latelyLarry Sanders explains it better than anything else. Don’t be fooled by the smiles on the cover; they know exactly how phony they look.

The cast and writing staff are both top-shelf—including early appearances from Sara Silverman and a then-unknown Judd Apatow—but the standout might be Jeffrey Tambor’s Hank Kingsley, a nightmare version of Ed McMahon. We’ve gushed about the life-changing brilliance of Rip Torn before, so we’ll just say that we keep a picture of him at our desk, and we gaze upon it in times of crisis.

And since it would be rude to leave you without a taste, here’s Mr. Kingsley’s advice how to shill for face cream with integrity.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom