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Arts & Entertainment


Judd Apatow

Lesson time 13:20 min

Everybody has to pitch, even Judd Apatow. Judd discusses what he is looking for when he is listening to pitches, as well the techniques that he personally uses when trying to sell a new project.

Judd Apatow
Teaches Comedy
Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.
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I think brevity is the key. If you think about things that you love, after the fact, you can tell them what it was like in three minutes. You know, if you leave a great movie, and you say hey, I just saw The Hangover, you probably can explain it pretty quickly. And so in a way, you're trying to reverse engineer that for your pitch. The worst pitches are long pitches. When someone comes in and starts giving a play-by-play and you think, this is going to take 20 to 45 minutes. First of all, I think they're crazy. I think they've lost their minds. And I want to escape the room. Sometimes I will tunnel and I will crawl out through the floor. That's not the way to do it. There's plenty of time for that later. So if I said, it's The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He works in a stereo store, he hides in the back room away from the women, and one day all his friends, during a poker game, realize that he's a virgin and they decide to help him lose his virginity. But when they do, it's a disaster, so we have about 15, 20 minutes of disastrous dating comedy. And then he decides he wants to meet someone on his own and he falls in love with this woman who works across the street. And now he's in this heavy relationship with a woman with a 16-year-old kid and all those problems, and she's also a grandmother. So he goes from no woman to this incredibly complicated woman, and they decide not to have sex for 20 dates. But then at around 11 she's like, let's do it right now. And he completely melts down and almost loses her. So that could be 90 seconds. So let's say you want to keep it under five minutes or 10 minutes. That's plenty to explain your movie. Unless, you know, it's an incredibly complicated spy thriller. Then you shouldn't be watching this MasterClass because I'm not going to be helpful with the John le Carre spy thriller pitch. I think that the key to the pitch is not that you have to tell everyone the story beats. You can give them a sense of the story so that they know you have a handle on it, but they don't have to listen to all of it right now. And I always tell people, you can pitch a few scenes. You might pick three or four scenes to pitch a little on where it sounds funny. That when you describe a scene they go, oh, I get why this is funny. So with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, you might say, and then he's in a poker game and they're saying have you got any crazy sex stories? And he says, oh yeah. There was this one girl and we were going at it. I was giving it to her good. Then they can get a sense of what the comedy is, what is the style of this. Why are these scenes funny? But you only need a few scenes explained for them to understand that you have a comedic take on why this is funny. I think that the key to pitching is you need to find a way that describes the project in the way will be marketed to the audience. Because a lot of times when people are listening to your idea they're thinking, will people be attracted to t...

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.

To adopt a natural comedic approach in my acting

All of my life I have loved comedy and now realize how much work goes into it. The different processes were interesting and can be used in other walks of life. I loved the class and will need time to digest everything. Thank you!

I am in the process of writing some comedy scripts and Judd's work is inspiring. He offered great insight to his process and how to approach comedy writing.

I learned more about storytelling in film than I did about comedy. It seems that the key to being a good comedy writer is just being a good writer.


Nolan J.

Thank you for the excellent pitching advice. I am curious how those that don't live in Los Angeles can get producers to read their work. Do you have any information for sending query letters? Would you recommend those without many contacts in the industry using sources such the Virtual Pitch Fest?

Louanne F.

This is the best episode - first time I've ever heard anyone say to pitch what will sell the idea to the audience in a trailer or a billboard, that's a great approach!

Marcy S.

Great episode- love the positive attitude and confidence towards pitching and being glad when people reject you. Interesting take on selling yourself and being you and remembering that this is potentially a long term relationship youre feeling out

George C.

Another great chapter in Judd's self-help book "A Filmmaker's Guide to Life" Advice that works in comedy and in everywhere you go.

Jack M.

Essential information on one of the most difficult parts of the film making process. Every lesson has been a bonanza!

Billy R.

This was some great advice. I think the number one piece of advice was 'why would you want to sell your project to someone who doesn't get it.' I think I've seen examples of this before. Netflix will sometimes recommend movies to you based on your past viewing. And I think sometimes, they might just recommend them on genre only. But I can remember seeing at least two comedies where I caught on that the script was pretty funny, but the failure of the movie to get across seemed to be more in that the actors appeared to be trying to win best dramatic actor awards with a comedy script. I don't know if that's a sign that the director also didn't 'get it,' or if it was a sign that the director couldn't get control of his actors. But yes; I can see where you definitely would want to sell it to someone who 'gets it.'


Great Lesson. Needed this. About to pitch something in the next couple of weeks and needed this Comedy Jedi's help. I love you Judd! But not in the let's Netflix and chill love more the if you ever need to borrow a ladder...I'll have to buy one love.

Christopher S.

This is a great lesson. Pitching is really the hardest thing to do because you need to convince others to buy into your dream/idea.

Mary S.

Brevity is key in a pitch. Oh, and be yourself and pitch yourself while you're pitching your story. No pressure! I appreciate the part about not wanting to go with someone who doesn't get your story, but starting out, I don't feel I have the luxury of being selective. Agh! Still it's all good advice. Stressful, but good. (Time to break out the pills my doc labelled as for "performance anxiety." Really, they're for auditions.)

Santiago M.

Very powerful! Thank you Judd. I’m learning so much that we will work together very soon. Gracias!