When Garry Shandling died last week, his peers came out in droves, praising him as one of his generation’s comedic giants. If that praise left you scratching your head, there’s a good chance you either (a) are not a huge fan of stand-up or (b) never saw The Larry Sanders Show. From the time it premiered in 1992, this series was a TV phenomenon, earning raves from just about everyone who saw it and dramatically expanding the potential of the sitcom.

On Saturday night starting at 9ep and repeating Sunday at 11am ep, Comedy will be airing a best of The Larry Sanders Show marathon that
includes ten of the most celebrated episodes. Gear up for the marathon by considering these five ways the show changed television forever:

1. All-star guest stars

Celebrity self parody wasn’t a completely new concept in 1992, but The Larry Sanders Show pushed this practice to new heights, thanks to an incredibly high profile guest list. Names on that list include Jennifer Aniston, Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Warren Beatty, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Dave Chappelle, Billy Crystal, David Duchovny, David Letterman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sean Penn, Howard Stern, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and many more.


2. No laugh track

While The Larry Sanders Show was about the making of a TV show, its overall approach broke free of many TV conventions. For one, the series discarded the usual laugh track, inspiring many other acclaimed sitcoms (including Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Sports Night) to follow suit.

3. Mockumentary

In 1984, This is Spinal Tap demonstrated the infinite comic potential of the mockumentary form. Director Ken Kwapis introduced this approach to The Larry Sanders Show, laying the groundwork for many more series, including both versions of The Office.

4. Catchphrases

Unless you host your own TV show, “no flipping” isn’t a very practical catchphrase, but Larry sure said it a lot. (Ironically, HBO doesn’t even have commercials, keeping the real Larry Sanders Show safe from commercial break defections.) However, several of the show’s other catchphrases have remained in popular usage (on TV and elsewhere), including Hank’s trademark greeting: “hey now.”

5. Legitimizing HBO

Back in 1992, HBO was best known for children’s programming, stand-up comedy, documentary series, and Tales from the Crypt. Arguably the network’s first widely acclaimed original series, The Larry Sanders Show paved the way for everything from Mr. Show and Sex and the City to The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.

The Larry Sanders Show is also streaming on CraveTV now.