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Sick in the Head
Cover of Sick in the Head
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...
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...
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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
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book David Sedaris
    (2016)

    David Sedaris is a writer. For the past twenty years, he has been publishing hilarious, poignant collections of personal essays—Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim—and doing epic radio pieces for This American Life that are ideal versions of the form. His material is his life—his family, his walks around the neighborhood, his French lessons—and the most amazing thing about him is that he never fails to make it fresh or meaningful. I can think of very few -writers—in comedy or elsewhere—with better timing or sense of the absurd. When he’s not writing or doing pieces for public radio, David is on tour—massive forty-city tours, thousand—seat venues—and his act consists of walking out onstage, standing at a podium . . . and reading for ninety minutes. He absolutely kills. I’ve never seen anybody do this before.

    David doesn’t consider himself a stand-up comedian, because he stands at a podium and reads off of a piece of paper. I didn’t want to say this to him during our interview, but he is a stand—up comedian. That doesn’t mean his essays aren’t brilliant and insightful, and it doesn’t mean he’s not one of my favorite writers. But you take that podium away and force him to memorize his material, and he’s one of the great comedians of our time, or any time.

    Judd Apatow: How do you define what you do? Do you think of yourself as a performer or a writer?
    David Sedaris: I would never call myself a comedian. I don’t think I’ve ever done stand—up. If I had to try, I really don’t even know what I would do. If you said to me, “You have one month to come up with ten minutes of material,” I honestly don’t think I would be able to do that. I read out loud and I enjoy that. And when I go on tour, there’s usually a question-and-answer session at the end of the reading and I don’t have any papers in front of me, I’m just answering questions. Sometimes at the end of the evening, I’ll think, Oh God, that didn’t go well at all. Those were really bad questions. Then I realize: It’s not the questions, it’s me.

    Judd: Yeah.

    David: If you’re in the right mood, you can do anything with any question—even if you’ve been asked that question a thousand times. If you’re in the right mood, and you’re feeling comfortable in front of the audience and not too self-conscious, then you go anywhere you want. But I don’t know much about comedy. Every now and then I’ll look at it on YouTube, but I don’t go to comedy clubs. I don’t have anything against laughter or anything. I just think everything I know about comedy I learned from listening to Marc Maron’s podcast.

    Judd: When you’re reading in front of an audience, are you reading things that haven’t been published yet? Is this a way to work on them?

    David: Yes.

    Judd: Your goal, I would assume, is: How funny can I make this? It seems like, in some ways, the process of writing and stand-up is the same, except what you do are more specifically stories. But that’s what most comedians are doing every night, just going onstage and trying to figure out how to make it tighter and funnier.

    David: I’m about to start a week’s worth of shows at the Cadogan Hall in London. It’s maybe eight hundred seats. I have eight shows. So I have these stories I’m working on, and I’ll go in and I’ll read them and then I’ll go back at night and...

About the Author-

  • Judd Apatow is one of the most important comic minds of his generation. He wrote and directed the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin (co-written with Steve Carell), Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40, and his producing credits include Superbad, Bridesmaids, and Anchorman. Apatow is the executive producer of HBO's Girls. He was also the executive producer of Freaks and Geeks, created Undeclared, and co-created the Emmy Award--winning television program The Ben Stiller Show. His latest film is Trainwreck. He was also the editor of the collection I Found This Funny. Judd Apatow lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2015

    Apatow, best known for wedding low comedy with honest emotion in such films as The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Funny People here examines his life, work, and other random concerns. His conversation partners include almost every important comedic artist of the last 50 years. Albert Brooks, Mike Nichols, Gary Shandling, and Lena Dunham are but a sampling from the long list of actors, writers, and directors who discuss craft and career with the director/author. There are a brace of interviews from 1984 conducted by a 15-year-old Apatow with Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Allen, and others that showcase the budding talent pressing his elders for information not only on technique but also how to pave a path into the profession. These are bookended with present-day interviews with such emerging talents as Amy Schumer, in which Apatow assumes the mentor role with generosity and humility. VERDICT An exceptional volume; in a field where shallowness is a hallmark, these artists reveal an unexpected depth. For all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 1/5/15.]--John Frank, Los Angeles P.L.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews "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 "For fans of stand-up, Sick in the Head is a Bible of sorts."--Newsweek "This exploration of what it really means to be funny, day in and day out, is for the comedian in everyone."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Incandescent . . . an irresistible, ultimate-insider's comedy-interview extravaganza . . . [Judd] Apatow never loses his unabashed fan's enthusiasm even as he asks canny questions that yield superbly illuminating conversations rich in shop talk and musings on the lure, demands, and resonance of comedy."--Booklist (starred review) "If Apatow's gift for comedy is a sickness, may he never be cured."--Playboy "Sprawling and insightful . . . The candidness of the interviews also exposes the peculiar community of comedians with anecdotes and cameos unlikely to be heard elsewhere. A delightful and hilarious read for anyone interested in what makes comedians tick."
  • Will Ferrell "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. Judd Apatow understands as well as any of them the pain that holds the knife, and the glee that wields it."--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."

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