What a shame. Garry Shandling says he still does not know what he is going to do next, a full year after discontinuing his 4-year-old sitcom, "It's Garry Shandling's Show," which ran on the Showtime cable network and in syndication.
But viewers of Shandling's first comedy special since then, which premieres tonight, should have an easy, non-specific answer: Just make us laugh some more, Garry.
Tonight's "HBO Comedy Hour," at 11 on the premium service, is one laugh-out-loud 60 minutes, as illustrated in an impromptu question-and-answer session with a live audience about halfway through the show.
Someone asks Mr. Shandling when he will do another series, and the comedian says he is bewildered about a career direction.
"I feel like I just got out of college. The show was four years long, just like college, and it prepared me for nothing, just like college," he quips.
But Mr. Shandling's is really a carefully prepared act, trading on the same vain and insecure persona featured in the satirical series. Yes, he whines and exaggerates and gets a little risque at times, but always with good humor, sometimes quite barbed.
For instance, early on he says he was late getting to the theater because he got stopped driving alone in a multipassenger lane on a California freeway. The Los Angeles policeman who flagged him down "beat the . . . out of me," he says, a sly reference to the controversial police brutality videotape.
And in a sequence about his now 3-year-old relationship with the same woman, he talks about PMS: "OK, I cry, too. But at least I have a clue why. . . . It has something to do with the point spread."
And of that relationship, he says, "I'm involved because I finally figured, what could be worse than dating?" What's more, he knows marriage is inevitable and that when it's time for his wedding vows, he'll say "I have to" instead of "I do."
Mr. Shandling's humor is the kind that rings true about little niggling things in life that are common to everyone, from sex to the sanitary habits of dogs.
In fact, perhaps the funniest extended bit tonight involves a lengthy description of a trip to Hawaii, where the hotel provided guests with stray dogs.
Another long sequence involves his astonishment that a regular person from Tucson, Ariz., such as himself, could be invited to the White
House by President Bush. He found the president "the warmest, sweetest guy in the world. . . . If you had an Uncle Butch, he'd be like this."
Mr. Shandling also dined with Marilyn Quayle, but he is reasonably gentle with the second family.
It's probably unfair to reveal too many punch lines, but here are a few more favorite Garrygrams:
* Of singer Bob Dylan's questionably coherent acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards show (which Mr. Shandling hosted), he says it just seemed odd because the current generation is clean and sober. "Dylan's been that way 20 years. You're just noticing it for the first time."
* He participates in couples therapy -- himself and two shrinks, "who argue about what's wrong with me."
* He says men are capable of double orgasms: "Once with the woman and once telling the guys about it."
* In response to the usual description of his hot Southwest homeland, he says, "sure it's dry heat, but so is a blow torch, and you don't put your face in front of it."
* And of his fear of flying, particularly the aging airliner fleet, he says if you get on a plane "and it smells like your grandmother's house, you should get the . . . off."
HE'S BACK! -- Comedy is all timing -- which is no doubt why the Lifetime network of basic cable today is launching weekly reruns of "It's Garry Shandling's Show."
The series will air at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays.