Chapter 4 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Performing Stand-Up Comedy


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

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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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.


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

I feel very inspired, and I really appreciate Judd's laidback approach and honesty. I feel like I could certainly relate to growing up being the weirdo without having the same interests as everyone around me. That was a lot of information he threw at us, and I loved every minute of it!

Thank you, Judd. Loved hearing your insight and will put your guidance to use.

I've learned so much about comedy, Judd is a great teacher. More like this, please!

Loved the classes on pitching. Honest advice. Not what most will tell you. I'll try to be less of an asshole when I interview. And will definitely act less creepy. :)


James M.

Really great and honest advice. You have to prepared to be rubbish and not care which is not an easy thing. That said if you can tame your ego (doing BJJ can really help) you will be amazed how brave you can become.

A G.

Oh no 7 years to find my character and voice There is a a good chance I will have Alzheimer’s and not remember who the hell I am or why I am on stage by then!!! Someone should have told me this 7 year thing before I was an old lady.

Jim C.

He's very methodical and has a plan. Applicable to many careers. Not sure a lot of people do this for anything. Like Queen, they want it all and they want it now.

Ashley S.

I like the idea of just making the experience a conversational one with the audience and allowing the comedy to come from yourself. It softens my self-imposed idea that performing standup has to be some kind of strict, formulaic joke/punchline for it to work onstage. I also think it's great advice to look like you're enjoying yourself cause just like Amy Poehler says, "No one looks stupid when they're having fun."


great stuff. I've always had a fascination with standups- something I could never do but a craft and skill I've always admired. I started seeing Lenny Bruce on Playboy Penthouse on regular tv when my parents would go out and I could watch and listen-I think I was 9 or 10 and I wasn't always sure what he was saying but, there was something about his tempo-then the spaces and language that I didn't necessarily understand. It didn't matter that I didn't understand. It was a cool guy in a cool space and I didn't feel like a little kid anymore. I also loved hearing you talk about writing for hours to get a good joke-then writing as a job-hours a day. Good stuff. Thanks


The domain for the Norm McDonald transcript expired. Anyone have it to share?

Hap A.

Great lesson, really related to it at the end when he talked about being bad at stand up for awhile just starting out. I did a joke about 3 yrs ago that was "being a stand up is the only job where you can be terrible at it and they actually encourage you to come back. It's not like being a bank teller, you do a shitty job, they won't just hand the money over to you." It fell flat but I still think something is there, need to tweak the second part of it.

Amy J.

I feel like I've been doing stand up my whole life, always able to pull off a punchline, until one day they come out with some bullshit like..... "hahaha Amy remember that one time you said this like that and people laughed, go ahead and tell them that joke" I'm standing there thinking to myself, I say funny shit on a regular basis, what part are you talking about?" That causes a look of confusion and then the joke is dumb and not worth repeating, not worth much than that moment it happened. " I say fucked up shit on a reggy and now I have to repeat how I made them laugh?

Nate F.

I keep joking and telling people about my writing but I feel it applies here as comedy is at the heart of all that I do: "I'm taking the 50 year approach" seems daunting but helps you look at it in a whole new light.

Mia S.

"The main piece of advice that JJ Wall gave me and a lot of people repeated was that, it would take about seven years to develop your character as a standup comedian - it would take you seven years to find your voice. Now what that did to me as someone who learned this at 15, is it made me slow down. It made me think, OK, this takes awhile, this is a process - you're not going to be great in the first month or the first year, or the firs three years. I was very comfortable being terrible - I just thought, this is the stage you go through; you just got to get onstage and just start doing it. You're going to find it, but it's going to be awful for awhile. Having this seven year time horizon, it made me work harder, it made me be patient. A lot of people get ahead of themselves, and they get impatient. They don't put in the time, they don't work hard enough. They want it to come quickly. Not thinking that was very helpful. When I started, you would always have people that you would do open mic with, and these are the people you hung around with to figure out how to do this. Where are the gigs, how do you write a better joke? How can you make this a career, how do you get rid of your day job? It's exciting to be young and have a dream and be willing to kill for your dream. And you can feel it when someone is going to put in the time and effort to really try to make it. There were always people that seemed like they had one foot out the door, and there were other people that you were never going to get them to quit. Especially in comedy, I think, you have to be one of those people. If there's any part of you that would quit, it's very difficult. You'd have to be completely single-minded and focused to do it. Because comedy is one of the only jobs that you have to be bad while doing it. If you're a doctor, they make you operate on a cadaver, they don't trust you with real people. But when you're terrible at comedy, you still have to do it in front of people who paid to see you. It's a very strange way to learn how to do something. You have to be bad in front of people who are truly disappointed when you are bad. That's what makes you strong, it's what gives you a thick skin. You can only learn by doing it, and slowly, night by night, you figure it out. Then you decide how much you like it. 'I don't like traveling around, I don't like the rejection, I don't like how little money I get paid for so many years hoping one day it'll pay off,' and they stop. And other people keep going, and those are the survivors."


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...