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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, Sarah Silverman, Harold Ramis, Seth Rogen, 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
“Anyone even remotely interested in comedy or humanity should own this book.”—Will Ferrell
In this hilarious, insightful, and deeply personal look into what makes comedians tick, writer-director-producer Apatow (Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, etc.) gives his fellow comedy nerds a generations-spanning backstage peek at some of America's greatest humorists. Apatow includes his interviews with a veritable Who's Who of the comedy world, from old-school stalwarts Mel Brooks and Steve Martin to Apatow's contemporaries, including Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham. Each talk is quirky and personable in its own way; what makes them resonate even more is the fact that Apatow undertook several of them while still in high school and working for the student radio station, lugging a tape recorder around to interview comedians and asking them "How do you write a joke?" One of the best interviews, which he did in 1983 at age 15, is with Jerry Seinfeld, a scenario the two repeated in 2014. Apatow's undeniable respect for his comedy idol is clear, and so is Seinfeld's genuine interest in discussing his craft, even with a teenager. Apatow's breadth of experience is not nearly as impressive as the sheer pleasure he so obviously derives from talking about the craft he loves with people who love it too. This exploration of what it really means to be funny, day in and day out, is for the comedian in everyone.