Arts & Entertainment

A Life in Comedy

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 15:13 min

Judd provides some words of wisdom and inspiration for those pursuing a life in comedy.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Artist’s Mentality • Find Your Band of Misfits • Comedy Brings People Together • Everyone Encounters Heartbreak • Small Stories Can Change Lives • If You’re Strong, They Desperately Need You


For a fair amount of comedians, they are interested in comedy due to some childhood injury, or because they were an outsider with other kids at school, and I think most want to be heard. If you're willing to stand up on a stage, or star in something, it's because you want people to see you. And maybe when you were young, you didn't feel seen. That's what's most interesting about it, is the thing you want least in the world is to be humiliated, but you're willing to go through humiliation to get the approval that you crave. So it does draw a specific type of person. The athlete personality is very different than the comedian personality. Their childhood experiences are very different. When you see one of the Yankees, you know probably when they were in high school, they were legends in their school. They're the one person that made it to the major leagues, and probably, all the women like them. There's probably plaques hanging up in the school. But the comedian is, oftentimes, the weirdo in the school-- maybe someone no one paid attention to, maybe someone who was obnoxious, maybe someone who caused trouble. There probably aren't a lot of plaques about the accomplishment of comedians till they become super-successful. So they turned to art and creativity to work through these injuries, and that's probably true of all artists. It's probably true of songwriters and painters, that you often try to express yourself because something is bothering you, or you're trying to figure something out. And what is stand-up comedy? It's just standing on stage, trying to work through something, trying to figure something out. Trying to figure out why you are the way you are. I think all comedians are very independent, but also want to be part of some sort of community. So for me, I grew up watching Saturday Night Live and Monty Python and Second City, and seeing The National Lampoon movies, and hearing about the magazine, and "Mad Magazine." And it always felt like there were these little groups of, what appeared to me, like friends who made comedy. Stand-up comedy on one level-- in one way, is something that you do alone. You travel around the country alone. And you may have openers, or maybe you can bring openers with you, or maybe you're the opener for someone else, and that person is your friend. But the world of stand-up is a community. You do feel like when you show up at a comedy club and there's a bunch of comedians there, oh, we all speak the same language. There's something that we all understand, that makes us connect. So you might feel at home very quickly at any comedy club in the country, hanging out with whoever the comedians are that are there. It's fun to go to places like Largo, or the Comedy Cellar, and feel like, oh, I'm with my people. This is a comfortable, supportive place. It certainly has its weirdness, like any other community. But there is something very inviting about it. I think comedians know ho...

About the Instructor

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

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