Sicker in the Head: More Conversations About Life and Comedy

Sicker in the Head: More Conversations About Life and Comedy

by Judd Apatow
Sicker in the Head: More Conversations About Life and Comedy

Sicker in the Head: More Conversations About Life and Comedy

by Judd Apatow


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An all-new collection of honest, hilarious, and enlightening conversations with some of the most exciting names in comedy—from lifelong comedy nerd Judd Apatow.

“When I need to read an interview with a comedian while in the bathroom, I always turn to Judd Apatow for deeply personal insights into the comedic mind. Place one on your toilet today.”—Amy Schumer

No one knows comedy like Judd Apatow. From interviewing the biggest comics of the day for his high school radio show to performing stand-up in L.A. dive bars with his roommate Adam Sandler, to writing and directing Knocked Up and producing Freaks and Geeks, Apatow has always lived, breathed, and dreamed comedy.

In this all-new collection of interviews, the follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Sick in the Head, Apatow sits down with comedy legends such as David Letterman, Whoopi Goldberg, and Will Ferrell, as well as the writers and performers who are pushing comedy to the limits, and defining a new era of laughter: John Mulaney, Hannah Gadsby, Bowen Yang, Amber Ruffin, Pete Davidson, and others. In intimate and hilariously honest conversations, they discuss what got them into comedy, and what—despite personal and national traumas—keeps them going.

Together, they talk about staying up too late to watch late-night comedy, what kind of nerds they were high school, and the right amount of delusional self-confidence one needs to “make it” in the industry. Like eavesdropping on lifelong friends, these pages expose the existential questions that plague even the funniest and most talented among us: Why make people laugh while the world is in crisis? What ugly, uncomfortable truths about our society—and ourselves—can comedy reveal? Along the way, these comics reminisce about those who helped them on their journey—from early success through failure and rejection, and back again—even as they look ahead to the future of comedy and Hollywood in a hyper-connected, overstimulated world.

With his trademark insight, curiosity, and irrepressible sense of humor, Apatow explores the nature of creativity, professional ambition, and vulnerability in an ever-evolving cultural landscape, and how our favorite comics are able to keep us laughing along the way.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525509417
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/29/2022
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 41,580
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Judd Apatow is one of the most sought-after comedic minds today—having directed, produced, and written many of the biggest comedy films and hit TV shows of the last two decades. Apatow’s most recent films include the Netflix comedy The Bubble, which he directed and co-wrote, the HBO Documentary Films two-part George Carlin documentary, which he co-directed, and Universal’s romantic comedy Bros, which he produced. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris.

Read an Excerpt


I started this book before the pandemic. I did a few interviews—Mort Sahl, Whitney Cummings, Nathan Fielder, Gary Gulman—but I wasn’t exactly putting a ton of time into it. Then the pandemic hit and I realized that most of the people I wanted to speak with were stuck at home with nothing to do, too. It’s hard to say no to an interview when it is clear you are available. We all were available—for everything.

So, I began making calls and lining up conversations. And as we talked, a weird thing happened: Many of these conversations became way more personal and honest than they otherwise might have been, because we were in this vulnerable, raw space together. It’s hard to hold back in an interview when you have been pondering your life (and death) for the past few months—when not over-eating, drinking, or watching streaming programming you don’t even like.

Finishing this project was challenging. There were so many people I wanted to speak to, and I knew that as soon as the world calmed down it would become much harder to get access to them. As things opened up again, I was forced to give up my quest for Pete Townshend and Meghan Markle. Maybe for the next book. (Or the next pandemic?)

It’s hard to write the intro to this book because I still feel so in between. I am not who I was before the pandemic began and yet I am not sure who I am now. I am, frankly, existentially confused. What meaning does my life have? What is the point of all of the work I have done? Why am I so disinterested and interested at the same time? How come I have become so close to my cats? Why do I keep getting more cats? Maybe the conversations in this book will shed some light on these questions.

Other than my love for my family, the one consistent observation I have had, during all of this madness, is that I needed to laugh. I needed the insights of comic minds. I also was told by a lot of people that my work had given them brief, happy breaks from all we are experiencing, which was nice. I spent months getting those same breaks with Ted Lasso, Schitt’s Creek, Jackass, and anything by Maria Bamford.

I have always seen comedy as a lifeline—which is why I’ve been interviewing comedians about why they do what they do since I was fifteen years old. Without comedy, I don’t know how I would survive. When the pandemic was at full force, I grabbed my family and made a really silly movie. I didn’t know what else to do. Is that healthy? Is it denial? Is it medicine? Is it sick? I am not sure. But now I know that when the world seems to be collapsing my reaction is to make a movie about a group of people having a meltdown during a pandemic as they attempt to make a movie about flying dinosaurs. The process of making that film with my family got me through. It gave me purpose: to be ridiculous. Isn’t it all ridiculous? It also got me out of the house and into a community of people with the same goal—to make people smile. When the shit hits the fan that is all I have to offer. I may not know how to turn the gas off when the building is on fire, but I might be able to make you piss your pants. That’s got to be worth something?

I am still struggling. I don’t feel right. But maybe if things get back to normal, and maybe after I do another book and make a few more ridiculous movies, I will feel right again. And the world will have some more weird stuff to read and some more stupid shit to watch with the shades closed as the world teeters outside.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Amber Ruffin, 2020 3

Bowen Yang, 2021 15

Cameron Crowe, 2020 26

David Letterman, 2020 47

Ed Templeton, 2018 62

Gary Gulman, 2020 76

Gayle King, 2020 97

George Shapiro, 2018 107

Hannah Gadsby, 2020 126

Hasan Minhaj, 2020 141

Jeff Tweedy, 2019 157

Jimmy Kimmel, 2020 175

John Candy, 1984 189

John Cleese, 2020 197

John Mulaney, 2018 212

Kevin Hart, 2021 227

Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2020 236

Lulu Wang, 2020 256

Margaret Cho, 2020 267

Mindy Kaling, 2020 278

Mort Sahl, 2017 289

Nathan Fielder, 2020 298

Pete Davidson, 2020 309

Ramy Youssef, 2019 324

Roger Daltrey, 2018 337

Sacha Baron Cohen, 2019 360

Samantha Bee, 2020 374

Tig Notaro, 2020 386

Whitney Cummings, 2019 411

Whoopi Goldberg, 2020 431

Will Ferrell, 2020 447

Acknowledgments 455

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