Playing on the behind-the-scenes personalities of a late-night talk show, The Larry Sanders Show starred Garry Shandling as the self-obsessed Larry and Jeffrey Tambour as his sycophantic yes-man Hank Kingsley. The beloved alt-comedy took the idea of fame and skewered it by getting celebrities (from Winona Ryder to Drew Barrymore to Peter Falk) to play amped up (and often very self-centred) caricatures of themselves.
By the fourth season, Scott Thompson joined the cast as Hank’s assistant, Brian. Hand-picked by Shandling himself, Thompson joined right off the fifth season of Kids in the Hall and played a role unlike any of his Kids personalities. Brian was openly gay, at the insistence of the series, but Thompson made him the straight man amidst a cast of larger-than-life characters. One who respected and even admired Kingsley, a character who was generally treated as a joke by his peers. Thompson also insisted that Brian be Canadian.
In his first season, Brian is often the voice of reason and empathy as the big personalities around him grapple with their own egos. He’s a warm balance to what could be a very cold group of characters. And he takes any opportunity to talk about being Canadian; it’s a great moment for him and kd lang when they bond over curling as he manages the green room and she readies to be on Larry’s anniversary show.
Decades after its debut, this Gen-X classic stands up as a ground-breaking satire of fame and the constant struggle to hang onto it.