March 31, 2016 7:05 AM EDT

I’m thinking of Garry as I write this. He would urge me to keep it simple. So here goes: There was a time before I met Garry, when I was watching It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, he looked straight into the camera and said, “O.K., they’re gonna play my theme song and I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.” I remember thinking, What the hell is that? Whatever it is, that’s what comedy really is. Garry was all about being alive and in the moment. He asked you to bring everything about your day into the work, to go beyond the laugh to reveal character and humanity. I once saw his script for The Larry Sanders Show–it looked like Coleridge’s marginalia. Garry got deeply involved in other people’s lives, for no other purpose than to help. He was a teacher–I can’t stress that enough. I am and will be forever grateful.

Tambor is the Emmy-winning star of Transparent. He appeared in Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show for six seasons.

This appears in the April 11, 2016 issue of TIME.

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