Sick in the Head

Sick in the Head

Conversations About Life and Comedy

Book - 2015
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 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
 
"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
 
"Incandescent . . . an irresistible, ultimate-insider's comedy-interview extravaganza . . . 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." -- Kirkus Reviews

"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." --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." --Will Ferrell
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9780812997576
0812997573
Characteristics: xvi, 489 pages :,illustrations (chiefly color)

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richmole
Jan 23, 2018

A special interest book that won't appeal to most people. If you're somebody who loves comedy--especially from stand-up comedians, then you're on of the minority who will like this book--or at least some of it. Be warned: comedy is serious stuff!

The book is comprised of audio interviews conducted, in the most part, by Judd Apatow, comic writer, director and producer responsible for "Girls" on the small screen, and "40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "This is 40" on the big screen. The interviews span the almost a lifetime. Apatow did the first one (Seinfield) as a teenager, in 1983 and the latest ones were completed in 2014.

As a kid, Apatow was an obsessive on the topic, desperate to learn from the greats, and a lot of the book is as much a self-examination as it is of profiles of pioneers (Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols and Steve Allen) and peers (Albert Brooks, Jon Stewart, Seth Rogan).

You can quibble about the book's organization--alphabetical, by given name, so the first interview is with Adam Sandler!--rather than chronological, so the reader's constantly reminding him/herself that one interview or the other may represent attitudes, performances, movies and industry details that are no longer current, but read like they are. This is important, because--as more than one performer pointed out--what's funny to one generation (Millennials, for example) may not be funny to other, older generations. Says Mike Nichols (2012): "If you make movies, your early movies are about your time. Everybody knows the story you're telling. Because everybody in your generation is in that place...and they recognize it. And then, when you get to middle age, that doesn't work any more..."

What I found amazing is the entertainers' depth of passion, and their philosophies...and how many find "life meaning" in the work they do, making this book insightful and thoughtful. Want falling-down funny? You want a different book.

w
Wanczura
Dec 18, 2016

This book is a gem and a classic. If you're a comedy geek, this is a treasure trove of candid interviews about how comedy is done. Insights into the expressive art of it as well as the business. As a writer myself, I found it inspirational, too.

m
mammothhawk229e
Jul 15, 2016

Now I'm curious of how many comedians gave an earful to their so-called agents on letting in then 15 year Judd Apatow of WKWZ 88.5 FM reporter with a over-sized AV tape-recorder, their phone numbers & addresses in pre-internet age. Hurry up on volume two with Will Ferrell, already!

b
britprincess1ajax
Apr 11, 2016

A fantastic set of candid interviews with a massive range of comedic minds, anyone who wants to know about the minds of those geniuses who make us laugh will love SICK IN THE HEAD. Some people tell jokes to spread their own joy, while others laugh so as not to cry. I was moved to tears and moved to giggle. I would definitely recommend SICK IN THE HEAD.

s
SmartyJo
Jan 07, 2016

Before reading some of the interviews in this book, I had not thought about how much time, energy, and thought comedians devote to developing their stand-up routines and constantly updating and keeping them fresh. Although most comedians make it look so easy and unrehearsed, in reality, they spend hours writing and preparing for their moments on the stage. I have a new-found appreciation for the fact that it takes more than just natural talent to be a successful comic.

Donna_R Oct 15, 2015

I enjoyed the Sarah Silverman section best of all. But to be honest, I found Apatow himself not the best guide. Still, it's good to get into the comedy trenches.

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