Three decades of interviews with comedy greats conducted by writer, producer, and director Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, etc.).
The author’s sprawling and insightful collection of interviews with some of the biggest and most respected names in comedy was a project that began over 30 years ago when, as a high schooler in Long Island, he coerced various agents and managers to grant him time to speak with comedians for his school radio program. Such ambition is a testament to Apatow’s self-stated obsession with comedy and an unyielding desire to learn as much as he could about the form. The early interviews, often conducted when the author was only 15, offer a unique glimpse into the minds of the rising comedic stars of the 1980s—e.g., Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Paul Reiser, and Harold Ramis. Little did Apatow know that he was interviewing future megastars, and the comedians were unaware that the young man hoisting his giant tape recorder during the interview would become a comedic sensation in his own right. The author also wisely conducts follow-up interviews with several comedians for juxtapositions that are the most immediate charms in a book nearly bursting with them. The table of contents is a who’s who of major players: Martin Short, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Jim Carrey, Seth Rogen, and Stephen Colbert, among others. For added perspective, Apatow also includes interviews with less-conventional funny people like musician Eddie Vedder, novelist and artist Miranda July, and director Spike Jonze. The persistent theme across this diverse range of interviews is the comedian as tireless tradesman constantly touring and honing his craft. 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.