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Conan O’Brien Dumps Opening Monologue for Garry Shandling Tribute, Plus Other Late-Night Memorials for Late Comedian

A huge loss. Conan O’Brien ditched his eponymous TV show’s opening monologue on Thursday, March 24, to share a personal and emotional story about the time Garry Shandling brought him back from his personal rock-bottom.

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The late-night TV host revealed Shandling, who died earlier that day at the age of 66, had consoled him during a really low point, when he had just lost his short-lived hosting job on The Tonight Show in 2010.

“He was a masterful writer. A performer who went on to create incredibly groundbreaking comedy shows that inspired an entire generation of comedians — myself included,” O’Brien said at the top of his show. “But right now I’m not thinking about that aspect of Garry Shandling. I’m thinking about Garry Shandling the person. He was obviously hysterically funny pretty much all the time, but he was also extremely sensitive, he was complicated and he had a ton of empathy for other people. And I want to make that point, because that’s something in this business — in comedy — that is very rare. He really did care about other people,” he continued.

Garry Shandling on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Conan O’Brien in 2009 Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Going on to talk about the difficult time when he lost his Tonight Show hosting gig, O’Brien revealed he was “shell-shocked,” “a zombie.” He decided to take his family to Hawaii to sort his head out. It turned out, Shandling was staying in a room nearby.

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“I was at a real low point,” O’Brien said. “He counseled me, he cheered me up, he told me jokes, he talked to me about philosophy,” he continued, before lightening the mood with a memory of the pair’s last afternoon stroll which culminated with them lying in the sand, watching the sun set. “I turned to Garry and I said, ‘Garry, this is the most romantic moment of my life and it’s with you!'”

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Other late-night hosts also paid tribute to the much-loved comic. Seth Meyers instructed viewers to look up The Larry Sanders Show if they didn’t know it, while The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah showcased a clip of Shandling’s very first Tonight Show stand-up from 1981.

Watch Conan’s emotional reminiscence in the video above.

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