Chapter 6 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Case Studies: Developing Life Into Story

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After taking a detailed look at two projects that are based on real experiences, Judd shares valuable lessons on how to create stories that are hilarious, relatable, and engaging.

Topics include: Crashing: Start With the Truth of Your Experiences • Knocked Up: Imagine Other People Dealing With Your Problems

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy

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

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How "Crashing" was created was Pete asked me to be in a sketch when he had a talk show. And in the sketch, he was pitching me bad ideas from movies and television. And in the middle of an improv, I said, no, but seriously, what's your story? Be real with me. And he basically pitched me "Crashing" in the middle of a sketch. There's a guy who wants to be a comedian, and he catches his wife cheating on him. And he's been very religious, but now he moves to New York, and he's not a very good comedian. And he questions his faith as he tries to be a part of this comic world. And my response in the sketch was, oh, that won't work. It's too sad. [LAUGHS] - I thought that you had a lot of ideas. - I do. - Do you have anything else that's not sci-fi, magic, or something we've done already? - Yeah. OK. There's a man. He's 22. He gets married because he's religious. And then six years later, his wife cheats on him with a small Italian man. - Oh! - Mhm. And-- and then I get my heart broken, but I learn life lessons. - Mhm. [INAUDIBLE] - That-- that doesn't seem like a comedy at all. That just seems tragic and sad. - That's my-- that-- that was-- that's my life. - That's too sad. See, I think that no one would want to see that because it's just so sad. - But I'm over it. Look at me. - I don't know if you are over it. You have this whole stance of positivity, but you can feel the pain is right there, and it throws me. - But then I, like, redefine my faith and start shtupping a bunch of random broads. - That's even sadder. But after we shot the sketch, at some point, he came back to me and said, I actually think that would be a good idea, what I said as a joke in the sketch. And we started talking about it. So that entails me asking Pete for all the real details of his life. So we sit for a very long time, and he tells me his story. How he became a comedian, what were all the stages, where did he live, how long did it take to get good, how did he finally get some respect, how did he feed himself when he wasn't making money doing stand-up. And then we talk about what is the essence of this. What-- what would the series be about. And on one level, a show like "Crashing" is about the journey of a-- of a man from first starting out and being a crappy comedian to figuring out who he is and becoming a really good comedian and maybe having some success and seeing the ups and downs and a journey towards whatever that career is. Because it could be success and then crazy failure. We don't know yet. The show just shot its second season. But the arc of his career. And then there's the emotional story. So you have a guy who is based on Pete, who's very religious. And he was raised to be a pastor. And at some point, he realized that he preferred stand-up. And now that he is living in New York City and is entering the world of comedians, people are challenging all of his beliefs. So he's trying to hold on...

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 class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct comedies that leave audiences laughing.

Learn Judd’s creative process through case studies, scene deconstructions, and practical insight in 32 on-demand video lessons.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judd will also answer select student questions.

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Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy