Chapter 5 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Developing Life Into Story

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Many of Judd's most hilarious and heartfelt stories are based on his own experiences—but real life is just one ingredient. Judd offers guidance on how to examine your life, identify humorous moments, and use them as jumping off points for comedic stories.

Topics include: Excavate Your Own Neuroses • Examine the Meaningful Moments From Your Life • The Most Personal Moment in Freaks and Geeks • Take Note of Cinematic Moments in Your Life

Many of Judd's most hilarious and heartfelt stories are based on his own experiences—but real life is just one ingredient. Judd offers guidance on how to examine your life, identify humorous moments, and use them as jumping off points for comedic stories.

Topics include: Excavate Your Own Neuroses • Examine the Meaningful Moments From Your Life • The Most Personal Moment in Freaks and Geeks • Take Note of Cinematic Moments in Your Life

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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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.

Reviews

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

So far I'm loving getting to know Judd and his process.

Well i have played it through once, and have highlighted the entire workbook with tasks. Time to start this over and get to work.

I enjoyed the class and in particular the observation that great humor is great drama with a punch line. That has opened up a lot of new approaches for me to integrate humor into my writing.

I truly like the delivery by Judd and all of the information that he shared. I did not expect so much information. I am working with a lady who wants to be a stand-up comedian, so I want to help her go as far as she can. Thanks so much Judd.

Comments

James M.

Great class and yeah I reckon there's enough drama in all of our lives to make a pretty decent film.

J.C. S.

This happened to my wife last month. I guy walks into a sperm bank she was working at wearing a sky mask intent on robbing the place. Since he had mistakingly left his satchel in the getaway car he picks up an empty Dunkin Donuts box off my wife's desk and walks up to the receptionist saying - "This is a hold-up. Give me ten males and two females and no funny business. I'm carrying a gun." The receptionist asks, "You want caucasian, Asian, African American or Latino?" He hands her the donut box and says - "Surprise me!"

Amy J.

Majority of my life, making fun of my own weight developed early. I have a sister that is roughly 5'8, long legs, thin physique. . I've always been compared to her and her body. I stand a barely five foot two and look like a potato stud. Stubby and round. I entered middle school {public} with a very strong sense of self. I was curvy with a set of DOUBLE D's. I was well liked, I talked to everyone. In public schools, I could handle rough inner city black girls wanting to fight, I fought back. Didn't give a fuck, you pull my hair, I'm gonna whip your ass. Survival in The Dotte was necessary. She called me a white bitch, yanked my burette from my Madonna ponytail from the top to the bottom. I swear she did that shit in slow mo. My Adams apple got all lumpy and manly. My tear ducts wanted to burst. And in one second, I turned into a straight hood rat. I turned around, I hit that bitch in the face, her cheeks jiggled, her eyes went numb. I stood there talking to myself like.... whaaa thaaa "Amy, did you just hit this bitch ?" The following school year, my dad sent me to a Catholic school. My eighth grade year was absolutely ridiculous. I was pissed as fuck at my dad. The minute I stepped inside that stupid institution, I was the FAT girl. I never knew I was fat until I went to school with a bunch of fucking white girls. Black girls didn't fight me because I had Double D titties, they did too, they fought me for my homework. And how dumb considering I'm not academically there. My nun was an acholic mess, She wore jeans to the bowling alley, always had a cigarette and a full beer. Her jeans were so tight her camel toe said hello to everyone. My priest was fucking the married choir chic and I all of sudden was a fatty. I hated it. The ring leader started so much shit with me I had to make fun of myself or the whole class would. I had to make Buddha belly jokes so I got the laugh. It became a goal. How can I save myself? The following year, I told my dad I was fuckin done with that private school bullshit and because it was the first time in my life I screamed the word FUCK, he knew not to fuck with me. Four years later, the night of my senior prom, I told him I was no longer getting up for church on Sunday's not because I want to lose my virginity prom night but because I'm sick of this GOD shit. And because it was the first time I screamed FUCK CHURCH, he knew not to fuck with me.

J.C. S.

I am only eight years old and yet, I feel like I have two feature-length films worth of material I could cull from my life already. Like the time...

David L.

You make it sound so simple. To come up with that kind of thinking takes some sort of gift. You're way more talented then you think.

Mia S.

"Sometimes,when you're writing, you're basically coming up with original ideas out of thin air. You're remembering things that you've heard, things that you've observed, you're taking things that happened to you, and using all that in some soup of what you're creating. When our child was born, we had this night where we had all of these nightmares happen that night, and I remember thinking, 'This is crazy,' and it felt like a movie. A series of events happened, and I just made a note in my mind, 'Oh, this is the end of some kind of a movie.' That becomes one of the elements, and then you fabricate, and it's not exactly what happened in the final version, but there are moments in life where, you know this is just a scene. 'Well that's a funny scene in a movie.' Most of the time, you're using those real life moments as ingredients that you can change and turn into something completely different, or you know, inspired by things that have happened in your life."

Mia S.

"When I was young, I didn't think much about using personal stories in my work... Garry, who had hosted The Tonight Show, created this character that was dealing with the stresses of basically hosting a show like The Tonight Show, and he was excavating all of his neuroses through this character. Garry always said he felt like he wasn't that similar to the character - but he certainly understood that he was a man with neuroses, that had ego, that was someone who was pursuing success, and that ego was preventing him from making certain human connections. Freaks and Geeks, I was aware that we all would have to share what happened to us in our childhoods, and that would become the stories for our show. We created a questionnaire for all the writers: 'What drugs did you do in high school? What the worst you ever got in trouble by your parents? Who was the first girl you kissed? What is your worst humiliation that happened with a girl?' Like 100 questions. And that started conversations in the writer's room about which of those answers could be stories. The stories that I related to were often about divorce... a lot of people came from broken homes, and it was always very uncomfortable when our parents would start dating new people, and we thought if we honestly showed how uncomfortable that it for the child to suddenly have some dude in your house who clearly just had sex with your mom, that that would be funny but also it's real and we all can relate to how strange it is when your family falls apart and then starts reconstituting itself with new step-relatives. One of the episodes that I directed, it's a little sad, he's by himself, he's a latchkey kid. Garry Shandling comes on, and slowly, as the music builds, he starts laughing - until he's hysterically laughing at Garry Shandling. After we put that scene together, [a producer on the show] said to me, 'That's the most personal thing you ever did, and the best thing you've ever done.' And that made me realize that that was the path forward, that in the way that Garry was working, that's how I should be working - from a more personal place."

Mike S.

You're more interesting than you think. Find the funny side of everything​.

Mitchell H.

Hey friendos! I’ve devised a short survey to help accumulate stories to draw inspiration from and put my 'unqualified characters' into those scenarios. Have a look and copy its format if you want. I've shared on my Facebook and Instagram (@the.mitch.the) profiles to wrangle people. I suggest doing the same. It's only 10 questions and I've had just over 20 people fill them out - that's like 200 stories and experiences I've collected. People have shared heart warming, heart breaking and some outrageously silly stories. The survey link is below. It’s only a 10 question ANONYMOUS survey that will really help us become a better writers. Would you mind sharing and filling out? It takes 8 Minutes tops. That’s like… three YouTube Videos versus helping out a fellow creative. Thanks for taking the time. Really means a lot! Kindly, Your friendly neighbourhood Mitch https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HBT5Y8F

Vickie R.

Funny, I've had so many horrifyingly crazy doctor and dentist visits that I'm really AFRAID now to go near an ER room? And I grew up the daughter of a doctor and always felt very comfortable around them? I had one doctor see me who was so cool and abrupt with me that I felt BAD for ever showing up for my visit and it was an EYE surgery!! I had to go? Then there was the dentist like the one from the Dustin Hoffman movie "The Marathon Man" (n which a sadistic Nazi dentist starts to drill on Dustin's teeth? Well this dentist started to drill on my teeth with out any NOVOCAINE!!! Swear to God this never happened before? I felt the pain growing and growing and finally (and very politely but scared to death) I said, "Shouldn't you be using maybe a LITTLE Novocaine on my tooth? This kind of hurts me?" So what does the guy do? He gets this maniacial grin on hiis face, takes out a HUGE syringe and gave me THREE huge shots of Novocaine (I only needed one or a slight injection since he was almost done anyone), and after all those injections, my cheek swelled up to like this giant squirrel with all these nuts in it's mouth and I started drooling uncontrolably? And before the tooth drilling, he his assistant from God knows what country tried FIVE time to take a temp crown off my tooth but it just would nut budge, so she kept on PULLING at my tooth and it would still not come off. I'm starting to sweat like crazy and felt this anxiety attack coming on and finally I said nicely (scared to death), "Do you think you can ask the dentist to come here and take this thing off? You're making me uncomfortable?" SO then she starts to kind of argue with me because she's insulted that I wanted an actual DENTIST to take the crown off and not her? Then I hear the dentist and all his croonies in the back of the office LAUGHING over nothing that funny just about a "dog?" It went on and on for like 20 minutes and I finally said "GET ME THAT DENTIST! I YOU ARE MAKING ME CRAZY WITH FEAR!" So dentist takes his time shows up and acts like I'm bothering HIM and in less than a second, took off the crown? You know what? I haven't been back to a dentist ever since. Even if I lose all my teeth and wind up looking hideous I cannot step foot back in a dentist's office after what this guy did to me and he seemed to be enjoying making me uneasy like they were all playing one giant joke on me. Never had this happen to me before, but I got my (tiny) revenge on him in my own passive aggressive away.I called the office many months later after he had forgotten torturing me and I asked the nurse "IS DR MENGELE THERE?" (Nazi doctor WWII who did experiments on his patients). And you know what his nurse said? "No he isn't in right now!" So I ssaid "Do you even know who DR MENGELE IS?" She tried to lie and say "yes" but I knew she didn't and I said "He was one of the most sadistic Nazi doctors during WWII and he's dead now." Then I hung up the phone. Then..(sorry last long story)- I went to another allergist doctor to ask why everytime I walked outside I would break out in hives itching on my legs? So with a very serious expression he said "If you continue to walk and work out anymore uotside your lungs will fill with water and you will DROWN!" I totally believed this moron because he was a well known doctor here in the Valley? But later after I ran his story by other doctors and friends they all said they didn't know what the hell he was talking about an d later when I went to see him he tried to deny every saying that? Totally GASLIGHTED me? Don't know why he did that to me? I then got TRIPLE billed in one year and everytime I said I already paid the bill the office girl would get real nasty with me and said I didn't like she was trying to start a fight with me? So she made mom go down to his office to pay AGAIN in PERSON and never gave us a receipt to prove we had actually PAID???? I was furious. Sure enough, two months later got a third bill in the mail saying I owed $75? That's when I dropped him for good. Strangely I've been getting double and triple billed all over again now just after I thought this had all stopped? Only now I'm being more careful and keeping copies of everything. It's almost as if they are doing some sadistic experiment with me?

Transcript

When I was young, I didn't think much about using personal stories in my work. I didn't even know that that existed. I didn't think about any of that. I think the first time I became consciously aware of people doing that was when I worked for Garry Shandling at "The Larry Sanders Show" because so many of the stories came from his life. So for instance, once Dana Carvey did an impression of him on "Saturday Night Live." And it was kind of rough. It was a hilarious impression, but a little mean. And Gary talked to him on the phone. I guess he was apologizing for it. I think he blamed it on the writer, Robert Speigel-- as most things should be blamed on him. And Gary said, don't worry about it. We'll just do an episode about it. And then they wrote an episode where Dana Carvey was guest hosting. And when he guest hosted, he did a mean impression of Larry Sanders. And Larry was trying to act like he was OK with it, but he was really not OK with it. And he turned it into a story. DANA CARVEY: --my god, look at my hair! Does my ass look OK in these pants or what? I mean, look at my ass! I'm touching my ass-- - Um, I'm gonna go get your, um, food. - OK. - Hey. - So I guess you're going to do it, huh? - Well, yeah. - Good, good, good. - Well-- well, now that you've kind of seen it. Does it-- does it bother you, honestly? - Same disguise I think Michael Jackson wears when he goes to Disneyland, isn't it? - Uh, it's a little over the top, yes. But that's how I do these things. I mean, you know, my hope is that it's so abstract, so cartoony, that it wouldn't be offensive to you, you know. I mean, like, well, George Bush is just like (GEORGE BUSH IMPRESSION) not gonna do it, one bit. You know, I mean, and if you'd seen me do Jay Leno, it'd become (JAY LENO IMPRESSION) yeah, that's why I can't even. And-- and you are just-- (LARRY SANDERS IMPRESSION) [MUMBLES]. So that's my hope. I mean, so you're all right? Is it all right? It bothers you. - So that had a big impression on me. That Gary, who had hosted "The Tonight Show," created this character that was dealing with the stresses of basically hosting a show like "The Tonight Show." And he was excavating all of his neuroses through this character. Gary always said that he felt like he wasn't that similar to the character because he said Larry Sanders would not know how to make "The Larry Sanders Show." That he would not be self-aware enough to make fun of himself, and satirize himself, and write stories about himself. But Gary certainly understood that he was a man with the neuroses, that had ego, that was someone who was pursuing success. And that that ego was preventing him from making certain human connections. I guess, on some level, when we started kicking around stories for "Freaks and Geeks" I was aware that we all would have to share what happened to us in our childhoods, and that would become the stories for the show. So Paul had a zilli...