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Judd Apatow Press Conference

Funny People
24 August 2009


1. What sparked your interest in Stand up comedy and to what extent is this film your love letter to that form of artistic impression?
I was really interested in the Marx Brothers when I was ten years old, I was obsessed, and early Bill Cosby and George Carlin albums, and I musta been angry at someone cause I really like those that would flip the bird at the rules, anyone who was venting and didn’t think things were fair. I couldn’t enjoy them more, maybe it was what I wanted to say to everybody but I didn’t know how to yet.


2. You and Adam have known each other for so long, how come it took you so long to work with each other?
When I lived with Adam we were twenty one, twenty two and he had left to work on Saturday Night Live, I tried to get a job on Saturday Night Live as a writer and I kept handing in my sketches and I could never get them to read them.So I then created the Ben Stiller Show with Ben, and we kind of diverged, I did punch ups on Happy Gilmour and The Wedding Singer, and I wrote You Don’t Mess With The Zohan with Adam so we were working together and I wrote a screenplay that was very bad for him and he made the right choice not to make it, but I always wanted to make a movie like this that was very personal that I could direct and that I had written, I didn’t want to be a director for hire, so it just took me a while to be able to direct and up for the challenge of working with Adam.


3. It seems you’re trying to get a serious message across, what would that message be?
I never have any other message than it’s hard to be a human being, and good luck to us all, basically it’s hard to be a good person and get through life, I never have villains in any of the movies it’s just the every day struggles that are difficult, and I wanted to talk about my affection for comedy and comedians and also what happens when someone gets ill and suddenly gets better, and they don’t really know what to do with the wisdom they’ve got from that peek at their mortality. I read a lot of books along time ago about corporate executives and in a lot of the books there’s a moment where they have a health scare and in most of the books they get strangely obsessed with their jobs I always thought that was interesting, in others people become saints, it’s usually a jerk that gets sick and suddenly he’s this fantastic person afterwards, I thought it would be interesting to see people resisting the lesson.


4. We know that some of the film is from experience when you shared with Adam, can you tell us what’s fact and fiction and what’s invented?
The weird thing about the movie is that it’s all made up and it’s all true, more truthful to my psyche than to events. There are details all over the place, like the way these people speak, and the interactions, I licked the orange juice off of the counter when I came home and the girl I had a crush on was talking to Adam, and there was a different girl that Adam said that if I didn’t make a move he would, but he didn’t, I beat him to the punch there. I dated her for four months and then she crushed my heart. There are things like that throughout the movie. The truthful aspect of it is how much I loved comedy and I couldn’t believe that the comedians I worshipped would let me hang out with them and let me write for them, that’s the most accurate aspect of the movie, most of those people were incredibly kind to me and so it took me a while to create a character complex enough for a movie because I had really good experiences with the comedians that mentored me.


5. Where does the writer come in the pecking order of the creative process, do they look down on you as just a writer?
I think when you’re a writer alone you don’t have much control over your work if you’re just selling your script, that’s what made me want to be a producer, then when you’re writer and producer you think why don’t I just direct it. You just don’t want to have to deal with anybody, all the obstacles that come from communication when making a movie, so my experiences when working on a movie as just a writer were more complicated so you may write something and say I want this person to star in it and then someone else says well it’s not, it’s going to be that guy, the guy that you don’t like as much, and you’re like ok, I guess that’s how it goes.


6. The prank call footage at the start, do you throw anything away?
There’s a lot of tapes, I’m a pack rat, I have four different storage containers with everything in it that’s ever come across my desk, when we came to make the movie I thought maybe I can use these tapes to create the history of George Simmons and I thought to myself I think I taped Adam doing some phoney phone calls twenty years ago, I wonder if that exists. I had to go through every video tape I’d ever made  and one day it was like finding the holy grail, over three hours of prank calls on tape, a lot of that stuff will be on the DVD, that stuff is really funny if you listen to the whole six minutes.