Finally got around to Judd Apatow’s comic memoir, “Sick in the Head,” an autobiographically revealing series of Q & A’s he’s done with people in the business of funny over the decades.
Decades? He started as a precocious teen, setting up tape recorded for radio chats with people like Leno and Seinfeld in the early ’80s, at a time when they were up and coming and he was able to trick their publicists into thinking he was a real reporter from a real radio station.
He was really taking notes on how one writes jokes, builds an act and constructs a career in stand up and what comes after — sitcoms, movies, screenwriting, joke-writing.
It’s a fascinating mixed bag of a book. His editor chose to let him flesh it out with way too many current comics (plus, oh, Eddie Vedder, Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann, directors like Mike Nichols and James L. Brooks). The dynamic of the modern conversations with Louis C. K. and Amy Schumer et al is totally different and far less interesting. Yeah, maybe it makes the book more sellable. But when you’re speaking to these people as equals, or transcribing a joint appearance on “Charlie Rose” with former roommate and longtime pal Adam Sandler, the conversation is more muted, more guarded and less fascinating.
He worked for Roseanne, and their reminiscence is sort of a career retrospective on her, a chance for her to even the score about the “difficult” reputation she was saddled with thanks to her TV hit.
Harry Anderson in 1983, right before “Night Court”? That’s gold. A hard life of hustling turned into a magic act with laughs.
I like his Leno chat and memories of the many kindnesses Leno extended him over the years. Kind of anti-Kimmel. Nothing revealing in the Jon Stewart stuff. Lena Dunham? A comic?
Seth Rogen? Another chat with Chris Rock? Jeff Garlin and Colbert, Marc Maron? Key & Peele? The balance of power in these chats is all wrong, more of An Audience with Judd Apatow.
Love that he worshiped Harold Ramis, whose films Apatow’s best movies most resemble. His joint interview with his wife Leslie Mann tells us nothing. Interviewed Judd several times over the years, Leslie always bailed out of interviews — at the last minute.
A mixed bag of chats, but there’s enough here to hang onto, rather like “This is 40” or “Funny People.” Not quite there, but with some meat on the funny bones.