Chapter 4 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Performing Stand-Up Comedy

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Don't let nerves or inexperience stop you from getting up on stage. Judd educates you on how to work the crowd, overcome stage fright, and find value in every performance.

Topics include: Get Any Stage Time You Can • Find the Value in Every Opportunity • Have a Conversation With the Audience • Just Be Garry • Lean Into the Bomb • Explore Different Relationships With the Audience • Be Patient • The Struggle Will Make You Strong

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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In order to be a good stand up, you have to get a lot of stage time. And so a lot of the work of it is, you know, knowing where you can get up. Every time you get up, you'll get better. When I moved to Los Angeles, I couldn't get on at any of the clubs, like the Improv or the Laugh Factory. I wasn't good enough. So I had to do open mics for a year. And I would drive far away. And this is a, you know, it's a simple lesson. But again, it's about hard work. Which is I realized that they were open mics at comedy clubs where there weren't that many comedians signing up. But they were far away. So if you tried to do it at the Comedy Store or the Improv, there's a zillion people trying to get on. But if you drove an hour away to Orange County, there were 12 people trying to get on. And you could do seven minutes instead of two minutes. So I would drive really far to get stage time for no money for a long time. Because I knew that it was valuable. So for me, it was always about making that extra effort and being smart about what you needed to accomplish. When I started out, I was living with Adam Sandler in the valley. And he was a bit of a rising star at the Improv. Budd Friedman saw him in New York and said if you move to LA, I'll put you on stage a lot. And so he moved to LA. And we lived together. But he was getting, you know, pretty good spots and a lot of spots. I wasn't in at the Improv. And I would perform outside of LA. I would drive far away to get spots anywhere. And then at some point, I thought I think I'm ready to show Budd Friedman my set. And I did. And he kind of liked it but didn't love it. But I was asked to come back in six months. They saw some promise. And then I left, didn't go to the Improv for six months, really worked hard on it, and then I got in at the Improv. And they would use me as an MC four or five nights a week. So I was able to go on between every comedian and see everybody's act. But I also was forced to try to figure a way to be funny in-between acts, which was very difficult. So if Jerry Seinfeld got off and Ellen Degeneres is about to go out and I was on for 20 seconds in the middle, I had to figure out, how can I get the crowd to pay attention in this transition and to get a laugh somehow? That's how I would try out material, in-between everybody. And sometimes, these situations, which seem awful, really help you get stronger. Even now, I feel like I'm much more comfortable in front of people because I MCd all those hours and had to be a host. And it wasn't considered the great thing to do at the club. But it actually paid off for me as I'm just very hostly now. The audience wants to believe you know what you're doing. And if you carry yourself like you know what you're doing, it will all go better. But it's very hard to learn how to do that. Because you actually have to get good at it in order to have the feeling of knowing what you're doing. So then you look like you know w...

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