Ken Levine wrote a blog post yesterday about whether sitcom showrunners should allow the studio audience to applaud when a popular character or guest star makes an entrance. Think of Jimmy Walker as JJ on “Good Times” or Henry Winkler as The Fonz on “Happy Days.” Ken concluded:

I side with no applause. But for a different reason. I feel it’s self-congratulatory and I try to avoid that. If the audience spontaneously claps later in the show at a big laugh or a story turn, well that ovation was earned. But just to have the audience go nuts the minute the show starts when someone enters the house with the mail – that feels like we’re all patting ourselves on the back for no reason.

I agree with him about not allowing entrance applause, but with one exception. That would be former “SNL” star Gilda Radner’s appearance on “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” in 1988.

Because she was suffering from cancer, it was Gilda’s first TV gig in years, and with the help of her close friend Alan Zweibel — co-showrunner with Shandling — it was handled with just the right mix of pathos and humor. The studio audience’s loving response to seeing her was so heartwarming, and the fact that she was able to joke about cancer allowed everyone to exhale and enjoy the moment.

But that’s a rare moment — unlike, say, Michael Richards’ Kramer spinning through the door on “Seinfeld” and receiving an ovation.

Here’s Zweibel remembering the Gilda/Shandling episode…