Chapter 29 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Pitching

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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.

Topics include: Brevity Is Key • Pitch Scenes That Capture the Comedy • Pitch With Marketability in Mind • Pitch the Emotional Side of Your Story • Know Your Ending • Sell Yourself • Use the Pitch to Test Them Out

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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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 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