Arts & Entertainment

Succeeding in Show Business

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 15:57 min

Show business is a competition. In this lesson Judd explains the things that you can do to stand out and excel in this demanding industry.

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

Topics include: Pursue Your Passion Energetically • Look for Jobs That Will Educate You • Don’t Be a Room Killer • Overproduce • Spread Your Bets Across the Table • Manage Relationships While Taking Notes


A lot of comedy for me was about the fact that I wasn't playing sports. And my friends would go play sports after school. And I would go home and watch The Mike Douglas Show and The Dinah Shore Show and Merv Griffin and The Tonight Show and then later Letterman. And I was very into stand up comedians and variety shows and Steve Martin, Harold Ramis, Stripes, Ghostbusters. That was the era. There was also SETV and Monty Python. So there was a lot of great things happening in comedy. For me, a lot of it was about no one else was interested in comedy. So this could be my thing. And it was interesting. Because there was no competition. There wasn't even another kid to talk about comedy with. But I really had a sense that this is a job, too, and maybe a job I can get, because no one else wants this job. Now it might be different. Because everybody wants to do it. And a lot of people know a lot about it. But when I was a kid, if I wanted to know about Lenny Bruce, I had to go to the public library and look up the microfiche to read his obituary. That's the kind of stuff I would do. And I was an animal about it. I just was completely obsessed. So I think maybe my first point here, if you look at this part of my childhood as a lesson, is it is very important to find what you're interested in and pursue it energetically. Because it is a competition. And I always say to people, you know, the hardest working person usually wins. The lazy people don't get in the door at all. If you're not obsessed, you don't have any shot at all. Then, you know, hopefully you have talents and hopefully you have some luck. But if you're not working harder than anybody else, just stop right now. How should you get in the door? Well, there's a couple of ways to look at it. One is you have whatever job that you can tolerate. And you're making sure you have enough time for your creative work. So you might say, oh, I work in a store all day and that pays my bills. And then at night, I have time to go to Second City or UCB or do stand up or write. And you're protecting your creative time. Then there are jobs in the industry that you can do, where you can learn about how movies are made or how things are developed. There are assistant jobs. You know, I have assistants. And in addition to, you know, getting gold collars for my dogs, they also sit in on all the meetings and take notes and read every draft of all the scripts that we're working on. And sometimes, you know, that leads to deep involvement and low level producing on some of our projects and then higher level producing as they evolve. And there are jobs like that for all sorts of producers and writers, where you're starting as an assistant, and if somehow you can show that you get the joke and you're smart and creative, you know, people will give you more and more responsibility. There's certainly a ladder of people who aren't writers, they're executives. And, you know, one thing ther...

About the Instructor

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.

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Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

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