Chapter 16 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Workshopping Scripts, Part 1


Collaboration is an essential aspect of Judd's creative process. Learn how you can use input from peers and friends to take your projects to the next level.

Topics include: Use Roundtables to Punch Up Your Scripts • Consider All Notes Openly • Be the Final Arbiter • Involve People Who Understand You

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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Class Info


We have used roundtables for movies. And a roundtable is basically when you ask, 5 to 10 writers to watch a cut of a movie or listen to a table read and to just kick around how to make it better. The people in the room are usually friends of mine. Sometimes you're just hiring people. Sometimes they're friends of the writers or the directors or the actors or actresses. Sometimes you're going line by line, and you're using the room the way a TV show uses a room to improve it beat for beat. Sometimes you're just talking in more macro terms about the story. Is the story working? How come the big scene at the end isn't funny? And you might take two hours to say, can we figure out a better ending? What else could we do here? This isn't that good. Sometimes it's just criticism. You just want to bring people in to go, tear me apart. How do you think we're doing? So when we were doing The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Adam McKay was there. And Adam said, maybe when all the guys are talking outside, for no reason at all, they're hitting each other with fluorescent bulbs. And I thought, yes, that makes perfect sense. I remember Chris Brown, a great writer who I worked with on Undeclared and on Drillbit Taylor, he said, maybe Steve Carell's character has all of these toys, and he never takes them out of the box. And he is like the toy that has never gotten out of the box. We did a table read of Pineapple Express once, and at the table read, a friend of ours said, seems like what this movie is really about is the fact that James Franco wants to be friends with Seth, and what you're exploring is, are you really friends with your drug dealer? And they're trying to decide if they're friends or not. And that changed the whole movie, as soon as we understood that that's what we were really tracking. Is this a real friendship, or is this just a business arrangement? We built everything around that. So it's very helpful to have friends read things and watch things. The tricky part is, sometimes they're terribly off. Sometimes they're wrong. So you always have to have your own inner compass about whether or not you like the advice and the notes you're getting. When you get notes from a lot of people, one thing you're looking for is a similarity in the notes. A lot of times people will give notes and you don't agree with the notes, but you agree with the criticism. But the fix is awful. But you think, oh, wow, I've had about six or seven people tell me they didn't get this part, or they weren't understanding what I was doing there. So I don't like how they said to fix it. But I guess I should look at that, because something's going on here. So what you want to do when you get notes is put yourself in a place where you really try to consider them openly. Everyone's reaction to notes is, get out of here. Leave me alone. You're wrong. I think we all are so insecure about doing a bad job that when you get notes, a first instinct is to want to reject all notes. So you de...

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.


Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy