To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

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.

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


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...

Get serious about comedy

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.


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

Exceptional. I walked away with skills that made me much better!!!

It was very inspiring to learn about Judd's creative process. Also all the scripts and materials are very useful to study. Great class!

From Apatow, I learned comedy is about the courage to say what no one else dares. It is about wielding the strength to be vulnerable.

So much information and so entertaining at the same time.


Andrew G.

Great, confidence boosting lesson! To back up Judd's statement that if you create something great, "they will find you," with a real life story: When, of all things, my YouTube video of a dog talking went viral, Paramount Pictures somehow found my cell number, called, and optioned a film from me, Letterman called (and he was quoting me on air), and Ricky Gervais called (we then did some work together and are doing more soon)... all within a very short span of time... So you can literally create ANYTHING funny and put it out there and if it's good enough, suddenly the people you long to work with are calling YOU. Somehow it took hearing this from Judd just now to make me look back and put what happened to me in perspective, and realize that if I work hard, I can make it happen again and hopefully again. Wise man! Great course!


I wish I had that talent. As a writer, I feel this class will help me to shape the comic elements in my scripts. Even the dramatic scripts that need some type of comic relief. As a writer, I also understand that writers today must also be producers, so I found all of the information provided in this master class helpful.


Enjoyed this class. Judd shared from the heart. Loved the cool anecdotes and sage wisdom.

Angela K.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Your movies are very funny and I have enjoyed every single one of them!

Cynthia D.

Great insights and relaxed way of teaching. Inspiring and helped me continue on with my writing. Thank you for doing this Judd and thank you to Master Class.

D.G. S.

North Hollywood sounds like it could have been one of the greatest shows of all time. What a freakin' lineup! Maybe those stars wouldn't have gotten to make all their cool projects if that went through, so maybe its not all bad but we would all LOVE to see it. Please share the pilot! I tried to Google and nothing. Please and thank you!

D.G. S.

In my humble opinion, if we stop laughing and making jokes and just be super serious and focus on fighting the perceived problems of the world then evil and darkness have already won. I don't want to live in that world is sounds awful. I don't love the planet and hope it stays healthy for a long time but I'd rather not live on it when everything becomes serious and boring. There have always been problems with the world there just wasn't a media to exacerbate issues and a 24-hour news cycle to make us constantly fearful. Not to say that the world isn't screwed up and things may be getting worse, which may or may not be true when compared to the past, but laughter and sillyness are what makes life worth living whether things are screwed up or not. I'd hate to think of a world where Judd Apatow isn't making people laugh ... just saying <3

Amy J.

The summer of two thousand eighteen has left me with a massive amount of heartache. My chest hurts, my breathing has become shallow. there are days I can hardly move. I loved my Grandma, I hated telling her that her husband was dead again and again, she couldn't remember shit. Alzheimer's Disease is dirty and wrong. I told her I liked black men over and over. She always replied " but why" I replied back, "Oh Grandma, it's like being in an R&B porno". (jaw drop) I said this because she wouldn't remember, it was entertaining and it was my way of introducing the idea to my racist family that I wanted a dark chocolate man bar to melt in my mouth" " oh god, anything but black" She passed away in June. A week later, I started Improv 101. I ask her to help me every night I have class. I would make her laugh so hard, her COPD would start a cough, I would have to put her on a breathing treatment. She called it her peace pipe, I would load mine with what smells like a slaughtered skunk, We would hit our pipes together for total peace. This month, I would be celebrating my baby's tenth birthday.If I wouldn't have miscarried, I would be a single mom with a trashy ass white man that would randomly show up with a cig hangin from his mouth and some comment that would sound something like this. " you should have saved ur money and got rid of it" I lost the baby Christmas morning and I haven't been right since..... getting there but not right. My kookoo has left the clock. Today, my nephew left for San Diego, he left for boot camp to become a Marine. I am proud beyond words, he is doing a very brave and realistic act for this country, he is already a hero. Yet there is this orange toddler tweeting his way to WWIII, a clear hater to south of the border wall jumping, I worry about my brown bear being a part of his command. I cried for hours this weekend, the anticipation of him leaving is like watching a snake swallow a mouse as it slithers through. I could tell you that I am ready for a season change but I love summer, I love being in the sun because I hate being white. I could say I'm sad about not having a birthday party for my kid, but I'm ok with celebrating my own or not. I could worry about my nephew but instead, I will write him 13 letters for every Sunday he needs to hear from his crazy as fuck Aunt Amy! I love this class so much and I haven't a clue what I'm doing, so I am going to go through each lesson again and kick ass !!!!! Thank you, Mr. Judd The Comedic Stud!!!


I'm getting way more than I bargained for in this class. Life lessons! I feel like whatever I do from here on I will give it my all, enjoy every bit of it, and just let the stars align, because they will. It might not turn out as I expect, but if I understand Judd correctly, a person can't work super hard with an eye to improving and a great deal of humility and not 'make it' somehow.

Cynthia V.

Nice breakdown of the issues we face as aspiring writers and performers. Now the challenge will be to go from a student to finding a spot on a creative team. Mr. Apatow is surrounded by comedy geniuses like himself -- a truly unique and happy situation. Thank you for the insight!