Interviewer: You’re right, that does sound grim.
Conan O’Brien: Sorry. Calvin Coolidge was a pretty popular president. I’ve been to his grave in Vermont. It has the presidential seal on it. Nobody was there. And by the way, I’m the only late-night host that has been to Calvin Coolidge’s grave. I think that’s what separates me from the other hosts.
I had a great conversation with Albert Brooks once. When I met him for the first time, I was kind of stammering. I said, you make movies, they live on forever. I just do these late-night shows, they get lost, they’re never seen again and who cares?
And he looked at me and he said, [Albert Brooks voice] “What are you talking about? None of it matters.” None of it matters? “No, that’s the secret. In 1940, people said Clark Gable is the face of the 20th Century. Who [expletive] thinks about Clark Gable? It doesn’t matter. You’ll be forgotten. I’ll be forgotten. We’ll all be forgotten.”
It’s so funny because you’d think that would depress me. I was walking on air after that.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Season 3, episode 9, “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive”
Jerry Seinfeld : You know, David Brenner passed away last year. Do you ever think about, like, all that material?
Garry Shandling: [chuckles] I’m sorry. So, I’m at a stage in my life where I actually care about the person. Here’s what I thought you were gonna say: “Did you ever realize when David Brenner died, and Robin (Williams), the actual impermanence of life?”
I never thought, “God, there goes a lot of material.” That’s hilarious that you think that way.
Jerry: Well, that was the hard part! Anyone can just pop out and live, that’s easy! Gee, all that material, he worked so hard on it. It’s just gone. It doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore, and it took so much work to create it.
Garry: That material, and your material, is purely a vehicle for you to express your spirit. And your soul, and your being, and that’s why you’re fantastic, so you keep…
Jerry: So it doesn’t have any value beyond that?
Garry: [incredulously] “It doesn’t have any value beyond you expressing yourself spiritually in a very soulful, spiritual way.” It’s why you’re on the planet!
“I’m pragmatic,” Mr. Glass said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in 10 years. We don’t even get to know what’s going to happen after someone dies. We need to wait until everyone who knew them is dead, too.”
But if the question is whether, a century from now, his operas will get new productions, his symphonies will circulate more frequently, or pianists will take on his études, Mr. Glass couldn’t care less.
“I won’t be around for all that,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”