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Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  10,161 ratings  ·  1,025 reviews
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, ...more
ebook, 489 pages
Published June 16th 2015 by Random House
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  10,161 ratings  ·  1,025 reviews

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Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started to get really annoyed half way into this book for one reason: Judd Apatow isn't likeable. He markets this book as a collection of "interviews" he has had with comedians and yet, they aren't interviews at all. It's mainly Judd Apatow forcefully interjecting his own complaints and experiences as a means of validating his own credibility to these celebrities. It comes off as whiney and self depricating. I would've enjoyed the book more if it had been purely focused on those he was intervi ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A gem for a few comedians & most comedian enthusiasts. I don't know where I fit in that demographic, but this is certainly indispensable to certain members of the artistic community, that's for damn sure. As much as I tried to ignore the self-aggrandizing, its undeniably present in this collection of interviews that range from snoozefest to almost-bitchfest! The better ones include Seinfeld, Roseanne & Steven Colbert; the lamest ones are from his "heroes", i.e. the elder comics such as Mel & Al ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorous, nonfiction
This book about comedy has gotten me through some difficult times. My mother has cancer, and this book kept me company at doctor's offices, in hospital waiting rooms, and at the end of long days, even if I only had enough energy to read a few pages before falling asleep.

Judd Apatow loves comedy, and so do I. But Judd Apatow loved it enough to go interview his favorite comedians and performers, asking them about their career, their process and their lives. It's an interesting and delightful read
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I DID IT, I DID IT, I DID IT! I'm FINALLY done with this book!!!!!! It only took multiple borrows from the library (massive props to the LAPL--you da #1 champ here!) and a couple of hours on several planes to finally finish it, BUT I DID IT.

This book SHOULD NOT have been as much of a labor as it was. I tend to like Judd Apatow movies (whether directed or produced) and he's written for a lot of comics that are generally pretty funny. Not only that, but he interviewed a ton of comedians that are
Lee Anne
First, let's get this out of the way: even if you didn't write your own dust jacket blurb, you have to approve it, and it takes a lot of balls to allow yourself to be called "one of the greatest comedic minds of [your] generation." Even if it's financially and commercially true.

OK, now the actual review: when Apatow was out promoting this (I heard him on Howard Stern, and Gilbert Gottfried's podcast), he talked about his teen years, when he became obsessed with comedians, and, using his gig at h
This was an overall interesting book full of conversations. It is not comedic itself but ABOUT comedy and the people who create it. So, if you're going into the book expecting to laugh, you're really setting both yourself and the book up for failure. This book isn't for people looking for empty laughs, it's for people looking to read sometimes very personal conversations about comedy behind the scenes, what it takes to do the work, how it effects comedians personally, what kind of person becomes ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 stars

Literary purists might have a tough time with the interview format of Sick in the Head, which is stuffed to the gills with transcriptions of conversations with many of the greatest minds of the comedy, television and film-making worlds.

It occasionally feels overstuffed as Judd Apatow's been interviewing folks in the comedy world since he was a bepimpled high school student, long before embarking upon his stellar career in the comedy biz. The book itself is not precisely a rip-roaring tr
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Yes, this book actually inspired me to prepare my own stand-up routine and it begins like this: So what's the deal with interrupting people while interviewing them... Judd... ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a book about comedy, but it is not a comedic book. Comprised entirely of interviews between Judd Apatow and various other comedians that he conducted between the 1980s and today, the focus is more on what led these people to comedy than the humor itself. It isn't really a memoir, though Apatow does reveal some things about his own past and process during these interviews as well. I wasn't a fan of the writing style as the interviews are presented as a straight back and forth, with no emb ...more
Arthur Graham
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly, some of these conversations were better than others, but on the whole this was a real treasure trove of interview material. Even just the span of time it took to compile (30 years!) is simply staggering. Pick it up; you'll be sure to learn at least an interesting thing or two about some of your favorite comics. ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
This was very repetitive. Judd was a better interviewer when he was in high school. As an adult he talks too much about himself and his parent's divorce for the comedians to share much of anything. Plus, he constantly name drops and keeps digging for compliments about his movie Funny People. ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's this notion that as you get older you eventually come to peace with who you are. The hardest part of that process for me was realizing I'm too insecure to do what I really want with my life. I've always loved acting, and for a time I loved writing (until academia beat that passion out of me). Growing up, I just always assumed I'd get involved with TV or movies or theater, doing something for a living that genuinely made me happy. And while I do love teaching, the most fulfilling times of ...more
Po Po
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very Enjoyable.

Favorite chapters were interviews with (1) Leslie Mann, (2) Amy Schumer, (3) Sarah Silverman, (4) Lena Dunham and (5) Miranda July. Listed in no particular order, except for (1) Leslie Mann. I especially liked her chapter most of all.

The major takeaway from this book is: success (as measured by society --fame and fortune) doesn't necessarily bring you happiness. I could give you the astoundingly long list of featured folks in the book who are surprisingly miserable, but will let y
Stephanie Laurenza
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This collection is amazing. I have so much that I could, that I want to say about it but don't want to ramble. What I will say is this: this was the book I talked about while reading my husband, to my co-workers, to my friends. "I'm reading Judd Apatow's book - it's SO good - he says Jimmy Fallon is EXACTLY who you think he is!" This book is a dream come true for a pop culture loving person. ...more
Lynne Spreen
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a goldmine of conversations between Judd Apatow and successful people in the entertainment industry (mostly comedians). I enjoyed seeing how decent and hard-working the majority were. How much they slaved to get to where they are. How smart they are. Some of it resonated for me as a writer, to see how another creative person works.

What I liked the least: when interviewees recited their job histories.

What I liked the most: when they spoke about the bigger issues about life. Here are a fe
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
Judd Apatow is best known as the producer of films like Knocked Up and This is 40. But he has been a self-described obsessive comedy nerd since his teens, when he first began interviewing stand-up comics for his high-school radio station in effort to learn as much as possible about the form. In the intervening years, his curiosity about comedy has not diminished, and this book is a collection of those early interviews combined with more current discussions with the many famous performers he has ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a funny book, this is a book about funny.

Apatow has put together a veritable treasure trove of comedic interviews! Jerry Seinfeld, Albert Brooks, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Roseanne, Louis CK, Jay Leno--Judd interviews 'em all over a span of 30 years!

Since Apatow he has been immersed in the comedy world for so long (whether as a lonely child transcribing SNL skits, a teenager conning his way into interviewing Jerr
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m already a huge fan of interviews and comedy and I love Judd Apatow and hadn’t realized he’d been interviewing for so long. To spend time immersed in these words and conversations was really wonderful for me and felt therapeutic and connecting, somehow. I laughed, I cried, I learned about things and people I may not have otherwise. Such a good read.
Debra Komar
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Apatow in conversation with some of my favorite comedians (and Eddie Vedder, for reasons never fully explained). I, too, am a comedian freak and found this really fascinating. As a teenager, Apatow began calling up comedians and interviewing them, trying to learn the tricks of the trade. The result is more interesting than funny, but what is surprising is how different yet similar so many of these comedians are. The chapters with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are standouts. David Letterman is ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
To be honest, I gave up on this book about 80 pages in. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a comedian, then this is a perfect book for you. If you are in search of a humorous read (as I was), this is not for you.
Stewart Tame
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I had it in my head that this was Apatow’s memoirs or something like that. And, while I wasn't averse to reading such a book, I wasn't really familiar enough with his work--I kind of knew who he was, but that’s about it--to feel like I would get much out of it. So the book was sort of on my radar, but at a fairly low priority.

But then I chanced upon a copy at an attractively low price. And, flipping through it, I realized it wasn't autobiography so much as Apatow interviewing a
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
On the one hand, this book gives an interesting peek into the world of movie-making and stand-up. It has interviews with some very intelligent and original people, who tell interesting stories and anecdotes, and expose a lot about their emotional and personal lives. But on the other hand, it's a lot of very insecure people trying to reassure each other that their brilliant and fantastic and the universe's gift to humanity. There's a very distinct lack of perspective - it's true, you contribute a ...more
Kathy Ding
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book; not like it, love it. I ended up skipping 1/3 of this book because of the sheer number of interviews I did not care 2 sh*ts for.

What a lazy book, Judd Apatow! Seriously, the whole book was just transcripts. It didn't have a single sentence that he crafted. For all the talk about how he wrote jokes for all these other big shot comedians, why didn't he write a book with some original jokes? With all the repetition and name dropping, it felt like the entire thing
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I like Judd Apatow's work. I like the people he interviews, and I love a good conversation about the creative process. The problem with this book is that all of these essays work well as stand alone pieces, but not lumped together. Because what ends up happening is that you hear Judd's story about his divorced parents and his neurosis and his radio show and his heartbreak over Freaks and Geeks about 50 times and by the time you are done with the book, you are completely over Judd Apatow. An edit ...more
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Much like the best interviews on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, these interviews with (mostly) comedians don't focus so much on the craft of stand-up (or writing, directing, etc.) as on the psychology behind why each person became a comedian and what it means to be a comedian. I found something insightful and even profound in every single interview. I honestly enjoyed reading every interview, even if I was unfamiliar with their work. The author has hinted at conducting & compiling more interviews for ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For fans of stand-up, Sick in the Head is a Bible of sorts, and Apatow’s interviews with Seinfeld, Leno and Rock serve as its de facto gospels. For everyone else, the book is a glimpse into the mind of a comedian—or 38 of them—and the legacy of laughter-inducing honesty they live to protect. Which makes this an extremely relevant book.

Richard Noggle
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it

Like Apatow's films, many of these interviews could benefit from being condensed. A few might be omitted altogether. But we'd never agree on which ones and, all around, it's a treasure trove of smart and funny people talking at length about success, failure, and the craft of comedy. I hope he compiles another volume.
While Apatow is an engaging, funny writer, ultimately there is still a whiff of "Me and My Funny Friends" to this. Don't get me wrong, most of it is interesting discussions about creativity and especially comedy. But I wish that there had been a little less of the writer in the interviews themselves and more of the people being interviewed. ...more
Jun 17, 2015 marked it as maybe-someday
Note to self: no audio edition available, keep looking, I prefer comedy and this type of book in the author's own voice. ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Judd Apatow fans
Shelves: humor, biography
You are probably familiar with some component of Judd Apatow's professional comedic output, whether as pitchman, gagman, writer, director, and/or producer (see, e.g., Freaks and Geeks, The Cable Guy, Funny People, and, oh, okay, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This is 40, and Trainwreck... and The Larry Sanders Show, and Girls, and... I could go on, but won't). Irrespective of your feelings about any of those or other works bearing his involvement in some way, this book comes off ...more
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Judd Apatow is an Emmy Award-winning American film producer, screenwriter, director and former stand-up comedian. He is best known for producing a distinct series of critically and commercially successful comedy-style films, including Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Expres ...more

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