Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE A.V. CLUB • Includes new interviews!
From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.
Before becoming one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow was the original comedy nerd. At fifteen, he took a job washing dishes in a local comedy club—just so he could watch endless stand-up for free. At sixteen, he was hosting a show for his local high school radio station in Syosset, Long Island—a show that consisted of Q&As with his comedy heroes, from Garry Shandling to Jerry Seinfeld. They talked about their careers, the science of a good joke, and their dreams of future glory (turns out, Shandling was interested in having his own TV show one day and Steve Allen had already invented everything).
Thirty years later, Apatow is still that same comedy nerd—and he’s still interviewing funny people about why they do what they do.
Sick in the Head gathers Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. Here are the comedy legends who inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin. Here are the contemporaries he grew up with in Hollywood, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And here, finally, are the brightest stars in comedy today, many of whom Apatow has been fortunate to work with, from Seth Rogen to Amy Schumer. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.
Loaded with the kind of back-of-the-club stories that comics tell one another when no one else is watching, this fascinating, personal (and borderline-obsessive) book is Judd Apatow’s gift to comedy nerds everywhere.
Praise for Sick in the Head
“I can’t stop reading it. . . . I don’t want this book to end.”—Jimmy Fallon
“An essential for any comedy geek.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Fascinating . . . a collection of interviews with many of the great figures of comedy in the latter half of the twentieth century.”—The Washington Post
“Open this book anywhere, and you’re bound to find some interesting nugget from someone who has had you in stitches many, many times.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“An amazing read, full of insights and connections both creative and interpersonal.”—The New Yorker
“Fascinating and revelatory.”—Chicago Tribune
“These are wonderful, expansive interviews—at times brutal, at times breathtaking—with artists whose wit, intelligence, gaze, and insights are all sharp enough to draw blood.”—Michael Chabon
“Anyone even remotely interested in comedy or humanity should own this book. It is hilarious and informative and it contains insightful interviews with the greatest comics, comedians, and comediennes of our time. My representatives assure me I will appear in a future edition.”—Will Ferrell
trying to understand how it worked and we didn’t understand. We were trying to figure out how much information the movie gave about Benjamin, the main character. And so we just wrote down everything. Like, we don’t know anything about him. All we know is he ran track and worked for the school paper and had no friends. Mike Nichols: It’s funny. I’m trying to think back to what we said to each other about Benjamin. We said very little to define him because we’d had this very strange experience,
thought was funny, a short story or something, and the teachers would say, “Bad handwriting, bad grammar, no paragraphs.” They would rip it apart and give me a bad grade. Judd: No acknowledgment of the soul of it? Spike: No acknowledgment of the humor or imagination or whatever. In elementary school, they thought I had learning disabilities and they wanted me to get tested, you know, at the room down the hall. There was a special classroom for kids with learning disabilities. Judd: Do you
would get me a seat in the back of the house and I watched every comedian—people like J. J. Wall, Paul Provenza, Charles Fleischer, and Jay Leno. My next move was to accept a job as a dishwasher at the East Side Comedy Club, located in Huntington, New York, near my hometown of Syosset. East Side was one of the first comedy clubs that existed outside New York City and Los Angeles, and I remember the day it opened. One day there was an old fish restaurant in the middle of a large parking lot, and
thought he was. When all the women in our office started talking about how gorgeous he was, me and Feig started laughing because we just didn’t see it. John Francis Daley: Franco went to Michigan for two weeks to get into character, and we were joking that he lived under an overpass for a few nights. He was always the one that had a Camus novel, heavily dog-eared, and his car was so full of junk that it looked like he lived out of it. James Franco: I knew that Paul had grown up just outside of
was decimated by it. Jerry: Decimated. Judd: And we didn’t do it anywhere near as many years as you did Seinfeld. How did it feel to be in the center of that storm? Jerry: We were killing ourselves and the reason why I stopped the show was I literally physically couldn’t go on. We were doing twenty-two episodes a season. And then once Larry [David] left, I was doing all the rewrites—to rehearse all day and then to do all those rewrites and all the editing and all the casting, it was just…I was