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Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy Hardcover – June 16, 2015
"Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)" by David Sedaris
In one of the most anticipated books of 2017, David Sedaris tells a story that is, literally, a lifetime in the making. Pre-order today
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“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.”—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. 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.”—Will Ferrell
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is definitely a must-read for aspiring comedians, comedic writers, and comedic actors.
Apatow started interviewing comedians when he was just fifteen years old for his high school radio station. He’d call the comedian’s agent and the agent wouldn’t look up what radio station it was and then young Apatow would show up for the interview, and in the stories he shared, the comedians were always gracious despite the fact he was just a kid. It was the most fun for me to read stories where he interviewed the performer back in 1983 and then again thirty years later. For example, he interviewed Seinfeld before his name became synonymous with being one of the best sitcoms on television and then again in 2014. My favorite chapter was on Roseanne Barr—it was so fascinating to read about her personal and professional struggles and successes.
Parts of this read like Apatow’s autobiography—he attributes a tremendous amount of his personal angst at his parents’ divorce and all I can think is: Join the club, buddy, zillions of us are children of divorce and that didn’t cripple us. Other parts read like a self-help book. Apatow is awed by comedians who are actually happy people (like Jimmy Fallon) and don’t turn to comedy as a way to chase the demons away. I was a little disappointed that my favorite comedian wasn’t included—Wanda Sykes—but he included several comedian/writer/actors that I admire and was thrilled to learn more about.
This is not a fast-paced read (it’s 500 pages) and while there are definitely some chuckles, it’s mostly about struggling through failure and continuing to work and not let self-doubt and self-sabotage defeat you. He quotes the amazing and brilliant Chris Rock as saying, "You learn more from f*cking up than you do from success, unfortunately. And failure, if you don't let it defeat you, is what fuels your future success."
The book really took me back to the days of experimentation in comedy. The genius that Albert Brooks was doing on the Tonight Show with his crazy inventions. How Adam Sandler used to do the phony phone calls. I remember I used to entertain Angelica (daughter) when she was young by screwing with the people who would call the house wanting to give me a loan. I would say, "Can I get enough to build something in my backyard? They would say, "Sure". Then I would go, "I want to build a hotel. Not a big one. A boutique hotel. You know the pretentious kind. I want to call it LA CASITA. I'll need about $10 million give or take because I will need a water feature of some kind to bring people in." Amazing how long they would stay on the phone. I had someone on there for 20 minutes or so. Jim Carey and Andy Kaufman would do bits that only made you laugh because you just couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. I LOVED anything like that. Anything that looked new. Anything that was surprising and innovative. I still love that today in advertising. ANYTHING THAT NO ONE HAS DONE AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO.
Judd and others talk a lot about their parents being divorced and how it might have made them who they are in a way. My parents stayed together. I will blame them for me not getting on SNL. I am already blaming them for a weird mole I have on the back of my ear and my asthma. I think my failure to get on SNL is also their fault. Well there is still time for them to split up.
There is a lot here about standup and how comics work their craft. Some keep refining the same act for a long time like Seinfeld and others go for something new over and over. Chris Rock is probably the hardest working man in comedy. When you watch his act it looks so effortless. There is nothing effortless about Chris Rock. I had no idea how hard he works at it and I love how he browbeats other comics with his work ethic. And, of course, Pryor. Everyone in the comedy business worships Richard Pryor. I love how they talk about his shows when he was sick and how he took his experience and put that in his act. He put the truth about his life in his work. Truth is important in comedy and Judd talks about that in everything he has done. Even in advertising it is the most powerful thing you can have as a brand -- TRUTH.
I think my first concert was Steve Martin in Las Vegas. It was in the Aladdin Center for the Performing Arts. Weird name for a Vegas showroom. Usually they have names like THE COPA ROOM or something that goes with the theme like THE COLOSSEUM AT CAESARS or the BIG TOP at CIRCUS CIRCUS or the WYNN SHOWROOM at WYNN. At WYNN it's all about WYNN. Steve Martin did a bit with a dime that basically made fun of the fact that you couldn't see the dime from where I was sitting. SOOOOOOO GREAT. And of course the catchphrase -- WELL EXCUSE ME. Obviously in advertising we like catchphrases -- like ours -- WHAT HAPPENS HERE, STAYS HERE.
If you love comedy like I do...you will love the book... And if you were ever that guy or girl who thought they were funny...blame your parents for staying together.