Judd Apatow is a comedy writer, director and producer. He has become one of the largest comedic forces in Hollywood with films like Knocked Up and the 40 Year Old Virgin. Apatow's new book, I Found this Funny, is a compilation of work by some of his favorite authors. Sales of the book benefit 826 National, a literacy charity.
He spoke with Jesse Thorn from his Los Angeles office about his long career. As a high school student, Apatow used a radio show barely audible on the campus of his school to book interviews about a career in comedy with legends like Jerry Seinfeld, Henny Youngman and John Candy. He became a standup comic early, and was featured in the HBO Young Comedians special in 1992. Then he turned his attention to writing, working extensively with Garry Shandling, who became his mentor. In these early years, he worked on The Ben Stiller Show and on Shandling's seminal The Larry Sanders Show, where he also got his first shot at directing.
The tone of his films grew from in part from advice he received from Shandling while working on Sanders: that he should always seek the truth of his characters. The success of Apatow's movies ushered in a new era of loose, character-driven comedies which were a stark contrast to the star- and gross out-driven comedies of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
This special edition of The Sound of Young America also includes two pieces from I Found This Funny written by Sound of Young America contributor Simon Rich. "My Mom's All-Time, Top Five Greatest Boyfriends, by Jordi Stromson, Age 11" is read by comedian and writer Jen Kirkman; "My Friend's New Girlfriend" is read by actor and sketch comic Paul Scheer.