Book Report: ‘Sick In The Head’ by Judd Apatow

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 that 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.


Eddie Vedder:

A crazy thing happened the other night. My daughter likes to listen to this ukele record that I did – she goes to bed to it, and especially if I’m not around, at least I’m there playing her to sleep. There’s a sad song about sleeping by myself or something and it was pretty intense. She started by asking me, you know, “What’s that song about? Why are you singing that?” And I said, “Oh that was before I met Mom,” and the whole thing. And then she started bawling. She said, “It’s so sad, it’s so sad.” I had to comfort her, but she really kind of lost it, it was pretty intense, so we skip that song now. It was interesting to see the empathy that she had for her dad. I don’t know if I ever had that, or an opening to have that. I was raised differently.

Learning about someone’s creative and personal process from their earliest days always intrigues me. Blending it into the learning of co-workers and fellow comedians in crime makes an even more joyful experience.   ‘Sick in the Head’ by Judd Apatow is not all about comedic guff faw’s but more the introspection of worthy life lessons that is deeply relatable within comedy.

Apatow explores work ethic boning, mishaps full of terror, road life shenanigans and inspiration with the likes of Amy Schumer, Spike Jonze and Seth Rogen. ‘Sick In The Head’ paints intimate portraits written in a biographic style within chapter bite size pieces.

Jimmy Fallon:

Well, I think you have to keep trying and keep swinging and get up to bat and try a different type of joke, because you don’t know which one is going to connect. We try a lot of stuff that doesn’t work, and you go, like, “Wow, that one did not work,” but we tried it. And that’s what you have to do. I remember – it was the first season of Late Night, and you were nice enough to come on the show and you go, “This is great, this is fun, but honestly, remember these years because you will not be doing this much pre-tapes and stuff down the road because you guys will burn out. There’s no way.” And I really took that to heart. Every time I’m like, “We don’t have time to do that,” I think, No, you know what, I’m going to make Judd Apatow proud and I’m going to stay late, I’m going to stay till two in the morning. I swear to God, I think about it all the time.

‘Sick In The Head’ is a perfect summer essential read. Read it before summer’s end!

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