“Hey Now” (season 1, episode 13, original airdate Nov. 7, 1992)
Opening credits guests: N/A
Hank’s introduction of Larry in the opening credits: N/A
In the featurette that accompanies the season one DVD, Garry Shandling mentions “Hey Now” was the first episode they shot for The Larry Sanders Show after HBO gave them a 13-episode order. “The tone was a little heavy, but good I thought,” he says.
Netflix Instant starts season one with “Hey Now” (and closes with “The Talk Show”), and that order actually makes more sense thematically. “The Talk Show” sets up the end of Larry’s marriage in season two, and “Hey Now” just feels like more of an introductory episode. It seems like Larry would voice his objection to Hank’s catchphrase—and his excessive work outside the show—at the start of the series, not the end of Larry Sanders’ first season.
Other telltale signs of the “Hey Now” coming early in the production: Hank’s “I’d like to fuck her” comment about Darlene. It’s completely out of character; yes, Hank is a dirtbag (remember the stripper from his good-bye party?), but he has a much more of a paternal relationship with Darlene. Granted, he eventually makes a pass at her in a later season, but his comment is jarringly crass.
The scene where Larry goes over the jokes with the writers feels introductory as well, like it’s establishing his relationship with them—it also features Jerry, who’s the lead writer but doesn’t appear until the second episode, “The Promise.” It’d make more sense to see him here than when we meet Piven the first time, when he, Larry, and Phil are trying to sell Shatner on the Star Trek sketch.
Beyond Piven’s introduction, that scene gives us the sense that Larry’s comedic chops have atrophied since his days as a standup. There’s great moment where Phil asks if it’s true Janet Jackson is going to be on the show..
Larry: “That would be great.”
Phil: “Especially if she talks about the beatings she got from her father.”
Larry: Or if, uh, she does the, uh... [Long pause.]
Phil & others: “I know where you’re going!” [Scribbling notes.] Larry leaves, a little chagrined.
The central concern of “Hey Now” is the relationship between Larry and Hank. Other episodes have explored it, but not to this extent. What does make “Hey Now” feel like an end-of-season episode is Larry’s growing annoyance with Hank’s performance. “The guy cares less and less about the show every night,” Larry says to Artie, adding that Hank had the gall to fall asleep during a segment. “Of course he was asleep; he’s a fucking moron,” Artie retorts, as only he can. “What do you expect? The important thing: You’re on, and you’re doing a great job.”
After Larry asks Artie if he thinks they should replace Hank, Artie volunteers to talk to Hank about his performance—but can’t find him because he’s on a commercial shoot. When Larry decides to test Hank later by asking his opinion about a joke, Hank immediately loses focus when Darlene interrupts with information about his appearance at some mall opening. They’re flying him in on a helicopter! “Darlene, make sure they have a pillow and Drambuie on the helicopter,” he says. (Cue “I’d like to fuck her.” Eww.)
Irritated, Larry tells Hank he has to stop saying “Hey now,” but Hank thinks it helps the show, that it’s part of their interplay. At the end of his rope, Larry can’t resist the low blow: “By ‘interplay,’ do you mean the times we’re both awake?”
It continues to the makeup room, where Larry complains that Hank takes advantage of their friendship. When Hank puts on his corset (!!!), Larry can’t resist another low blow. “Why don’t you shove it up your ass? Or do you already do that commercial?”
Beyond the central storyline about Hank and Larry, “Hey Now” offers another nice peek into the craziness that goes into scheduling guests for a late-night talk show. Larry’s fear that Janet Jackson won’t make it to the show is realized when her plane is delayed, leading to a manic rush to find a replacement. They’re able to get T. Bone Burnett, but only by the skin of their teeth—he’s shown running down the hall with Paula to make it to the set on time. The show may look seamless to viewers, but behind the scenes, the whole thing is jury-rigged.
In order to give Burnett enough time to make it in, Larry has to drag out a mind-numbingly boring interview with a dog trainer. (“If I had a gun I’d put it in my mouth turn and take us both out,” Larry says to Artie after he’s told to extend it.)
But it’s here that Hank shows his worth. He asks the trainer dog advice, which leads to some good back-and-forth between him and Larry, and a genuinely funny quip from an otherwise tedious guest. When Larry needs him, Hank’s always a willing straight man. “You saved my ass,” Larry tells Hank during the Burnett performance.
“I’ve turned into an asshole the last couple of years,” Larry adds.
“That’s okay. I’ve turned into a moron,” Hank says.
The asshole/moron relationship is fundamental to comedy, and bastion of late-night talk shows—look no further than the Johnny Carson/Ed McMahon relationship on The Tonight Show. McMahon, of course, wasn’t a moron, but he was definitely a Hank. The repartee between Larry and Hank clearly comes from Carson and McMahon. I remember the awesome looks Carson would give him during his “Carnac The Magnificent” sketches.
(“Raging bull.” “Raging bull.” “Shut up!”)
Like the best TV series, The Larry Sanders Show picks up speed during its second season, building on what the first one created and improving upon it. Accolades came quickly after season one. At the 1993 Emmys, it received six nominations, sometimes two in one category: Rip Torn and Jeffrey Tambor for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series. Dana Carvey and Carol Burnett earned nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress In A Comedy Series. Nominations followed every season, but the show wouldn’t win any until 1996, when Rip Torn earned his much-deserved trophy.
That’ll do it for The Larry Sanders Show in TV Club Classic, at least until next summer. Thanks for reading. No flipping.
• The winners of those Emmys in 1993? Michael Richards for supporting actor in Seinfeld. The Larry Sanders Show also lost to Seinfeld for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement In Writing In A Comedy Series (to Larry David). Shandling was nominated for actor, but lost out to Ted Danson for Cheers. (Of course he did; it was Cheers’ final season.) The guest Emmys went to Tracey Ullman for Love & War and David Clennon for another HBO series, Dream On. (Does anyone still talk about that show? I used to watch it.)
• Holy God, was Bob Saget annoying. I haven’t seen a barrage of bad jokes like that since the episode that guest-starred Robin Williams! “Jesus, I didn’t even need to be there for that fuckin’ Saget interview. All I said was ‘Hi, bob. Bye, bob,’” Larry says. Arthur’s perfect response: “Anyone with less talent would’ve tried to interrupt.” Of course, Larry doesn’t say anything later when Saget asks if he went on too long, just shrugging him off with a “Love your work, Bob.” Note to self: If you’re ever complimented in Hollywood, it’s fake. (Artie adds, “Yeah, love the one where the man gets hit in the nuts with the Wiffle ball!”
• Unsurprisingly, this first episode was written by Shandling and series co-creator Dennis Klein. Ken Kwapis directed.
• More Carson: “May your favorite brother become an earring repairman at a gay oasis.”
• Sorry about the generic image with this last post—I don’t have the DVD with me right now, but I'll update it later.