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I truly loved this book. I love stand-up comedy, I love funny movies, and I have enjoyed everything I've ever seen that Judd Apatow was involved in, so it was the perfect book for me. However, if you're not an Apatow fan, prepare to hear quite a bit about his work. As he interviews other comedians, he often relates to his own experiences to ask questions of others. I only gave 4.5 stars, because by the end of it I felt like I had heard his same stories a few too many times. Still a great compilation of interviews, though, and I would recommend to any comedy lover!! I'm hoping he comes out with a Volume 2!
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him/herself that one interview or the other may represent attitudes, performances, movies and industry details that are no longer current, but read like they are.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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.