Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy
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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
before they blow up in my face. I am like a lookout for disaster. I also have a voice that tells me to calm down. I have a TM mantra and every once in a while I try to breathe and think about some piece of advice I have heard or read, usually from the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Then I will think about my mantra. About one second later I am worried that I will never have a good idea again, or that I have wronged someone in my life and I try to figure out what to do. Sometimes I am
guess, you know, it depends on the person. You can’t generalize. Judd: You don’t think there’s anything that’s off-limits? I mean, I’ve seen some pretty crude stuff. Sandra: See, I have a lot of opinions on comedy. If you get me started on that, then I’ll say my opinions, and I’m gonna regret it. Judd: You’re gonna say something that you’re gonna regret? Sandra: Yeah, because I don’t think that there are very many people that should be doing comedy. Because I don’t think most of them have a
stuff, that I was always pretty but not beautiful. And that was something that you were punished for. I was very aware of this stuff early on. Judd: With girls, it’s weird because it changes dramatically. In high school, girls don’t look anything like they looked in third grade. Whereas guys, the handsome third-grade dude is still handsome in high school. Girls blossom and change. That was the kind of girl I always tried to date: the girl who, near the end of high school, got pretty but still
before. But my speech really came off strong because I was actually talking about some real things, bad things that had happened to me—and the other speeches weren’t as hard. And so Gloria asked me to come talk the following year at her birthday party. So I wrote this speech about losing all my self-esteem in college, and a kind of painful night that I tried my best to make funny. Judd: What about it do you think connected with people? Amy: Just the feeling of losing all your confidence and
for this? Judd: I wanted to talk about when I first became a comedian and the moment I was allowed into the world of comics, which was very exciting for me. The people I worked with when I first started were incredibly nice to me and I was just in heaven being around them. You know, I wrote for Roseanne and Tom Arnold. That was one of my first jobs. They bought me a Rolex for Christmas. They paid me eight hundred dollars a week and suddenly I could afford valet parking. It was all positive so I