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  • Published: 1 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780857985934
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 512

Sick in the Head

Conversations About Life and Comedy

Intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy – including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

Intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy – including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne, 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. He took a job washing dishes in a local comedy club so he could watch endless stand-up for free. He hosted a show for his local high school radio station on Long Island – a show that consisted of Q&As with his comedy heroes, from Garry Shandling to Jerry Seinfeld.

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. The comedy legends who inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin, the contemporaries he grew up with, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And the brightest stars in comedy today, 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.

Royalties will be donated by to 826LA, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in Los Angeles.

  • Published: 1 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780857985934
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 512

About the author

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow was born on December 6, 1967 in Syosset, New York, USA. He is a producer and writer, known for The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007) and This Is 40 (2012). He has been married to Leslie Mann since June 9, 1997. They have two children.

While in high school, he started a radio show on the campus station. The show gave him an excuse to seek out and interview comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Garry Shandling. Several years later, Shandling would hire him to write for The Larry Sanders Show (1992).

Praise for Sick in the Head

This book is comedy porn for nerds. Nerds who prefer to deconstruct a joke rather than a computer.

Veronica Milsom, The Sydney Morning Herald

Judd Apatow was 15 when he began doing the interviews that make up this terrific book about the art of being funny. As the book's subtitle suggests, conversations about comedy almost always turn to life matters. The breadth of Apatow's experiences serves him well in the interviews. His subjects recognise him as a peer and not just an interested outsider. He asks great questions and you get the sense that he really wants to know the answers. And he frequently gets crackerjack replies. By the time you get to the end of Sick in the Head, you'll feel as if you've been involved in a round-table discussion about comedy in all its various guises. And that is a wonderful place to be for anyone who cares about the precious commodity of laughter.

Tom Ryan, The Age

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

“I just want to go deeper,” Apatow writes, “and more personal every time”. Sick in the Head, like his films, achieves that in spades.

James McNamara, The Australian

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

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

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

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.


A lively collection of interviews with comedians that is a kind of love letter to the art form and an entertaining portrait of how stand-up has changed from its first boom in the ’80s to its current one. The topics range further afield, from comedy to family or religion. Ms. Dunham talked about Mr. Apatow’s contributions to her TV show, “Girls,” as an executive producer. “In ‘Girls,’ he always pushes us to make Hannah more mature, to grow and be less selfish,” she said of her character in that series. “He wants to find the emotional core of a scene and doesn’t care if it’s funny.”

JASON ZINOMAN, The New York Times

In Sick in the Head, Apatow talks with Steve Allen, Albert Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Sandra Bernhard and many others. Apatow has been conducting such interviews since he was a student at Syosset High School in the 1980s when he'd cheekily seek out the comedians he admired, most of whom showed the good grace of being interviewed by a whip-smart teenager. In a very Hollywood-style act of chutzpah, several of those 1980s interviews are included in “Sick in the Head.” Fortunately, though, the majority of pieces here are the work of an adult talking shop with other adults, and the accumulative effect is fascinating.

Washington Post

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