I was introduced to the world of comedy by way of the “Canadian SNL” Royal Canadian Air Farce. I was 8 when I started watching—too young to understand any political sketches and barely capable of knowing what a Prime Minister even was. What I did understand however, was that the cast said things and then people laughed. From then on my interest in live comedy was piqued and I haven’t stopped annoying my family with my terrible impressions (Celine Dion oui oui?) ever since. Recently however, my interest in comedy hasn’t been in comedians’ work or material, but rather in their origin stories and their life in the industry. Hearing comedians talk about comedy is one of my favourite things ever, and IT SHOULD BE YOURS TOO. That’s why I was super excited to hear that Judd Apatow had released a book entitled Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy.
Comprised entirely of interviews Apatow’s had with comedians, some of these “conversations” are actually from the early 80s. What were you doing when you were 15? Not knocking on Jerry Seinfeld’s door with a tape recorder asking for an interview. Which is exactly what 15 year old Judd did in 1983. I certainly didn’t know that and I’m not sure if you did either, but don’t worry – Apatow will make sure you know this fact about him because he mentions it approximately 168 times in this book (more on that later).
This is the perfect summer book for more reasons than “Oh it’s super funny”. You have 5 minutes in between a beach volleyball game (I don’t know, is that something people do in the summer…stay active?), great you can quickly read a conversation with Steve Martin. Are you half in the bag, tanning on the patio, and it’s too sunny to see your phone screen, forcing you to resort to the stone age medium of the printed word? Perfect, pick up this fun lil’ book and pretend you’re also in on the conversation with Marc Maron or Sarah Silverman or Louise CK.
This is such a simple book to pick up and read on the go, and for that I don’t recommend you read it straight through. My main reason for this is while all the guests are TREMENDOUSLY interesting, sometimes Apatow is not. This is not to insult him but it’s to be expected. It makes sense that within 40 interviews he’ll probably bring up the same stories about his life in comedy. His early teenage background with both Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling or Jay Leno are incredible and definitely worth the read…the first time you read about it. Then the following times you’re just like “Skim, skim, skim… okay, let me see what Stephen Colbert has to say instead”. But hey! I love talking about myself too Judd, so who am I to point fingers?
Overall, if you’re looking for an easy and super entertaining read this summer, Sick in the Head is the way to go. Despite what you may or may not feel for Apatow, the notion that he just TRULY LOVES COMEDY propels some really great conversations—despite the fact that on his end, it can get a bit repetitive. So pick it up, read about people you love (personally, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Martin Short) and then read about some people you don’t love but will probably win you over (personally Seth Rogan, Adam Sandler, Louis CK—although still not completely sold on Louis and I’ve been told I’m dumb before for not liking him so YEAH YEAH YEAH yell at me all you want I’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE)
If you’ve read Sick in the Head or are planning to because I for sure won you over with this review, tweet me your thoughts at @isabellavtorch. Let me know your favourite interview, or perhaps your plans to create a drinking game based on this book (take a shot every time Apatow mentions that Garry Shandling is his comedy hero, chug whenever Apatow calls himself the original comedy nerd etc etc possibilities are endless). Or alternatively, tweet me to tell me I don’t understand comedy because I don’t like Louis CK…and yet I’ve seen every Kathy Griffin special 3 times. Comedy is subjective people. Just read the book.