Sicker in the Head

More Conversations About Life and Comedy

About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An all-new collection of honest, hilarious, and enlightening conversations with some of the most exciting names in comedy—from lifelong comedy nerd Judd Apatow.

“When I need to read an interview with a comedian while in the bathroom, I always turn to Judd Apatow for deeply personal insights into the comedic mind. Place one on your toilet today.”—Amy Schumer


No one knows comedy like Judd Apatow. From interviewing the biggest comics of the day for his high school radio show to performing stand-up in L.A. dive bars with his roommate Adam Sandler, to writing and directing Knocked Up and producing Freaks and Geeks, Apatow has always lived, breathed, and dreamed comedy.

In this all-new collection of interviews, the follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Sick in the Head, Apatow sits down with comedy legends such as David Letterman, Whoopi Goldberg, and Will Ferrell, as well as the writers and performers who are pushing comedy to the limits, and defining a new era of laughter: John Mulaney, Hannah Gadsby, Bowen Yang, Amber Ruffin, Pete Davidson, and others. In intimate and hilariously honest conversations, they discuss what got them into comedy, and what—despite personal and national traumas—keeps them going.

Together, they talk about staying up too late to watch late-night comedy, what kind of nerds they were high school, and the right amount of delusional self-confidence one needs to “make it” in the industry. Like eavesdropping on lifelong friends, these pages expose the existential questions that plague even the funniest and most talented among us: Why make people laugh while the world is in crisis? What ugly, uncomfortable truths about our society—and ourselves—can comedy reveal? Along the way, these comics reminisce about those who helped them on their journey—from early success through failure and rejection, and back again—even as they look ahead to the future of comedy and Hollywood in a hyper-connected, overstimulated world.

With his trademark insight, curiosity, and irrepressible sense of humor, Apatow explores the nature of creativity, professional ambition, and vulnerability in an ever-evolving cultural landscape, and how our favorite comics are able to keep us laughing along the way.
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Praise for Sicker in the Head

Praise for Sicker in the Head

“The conversations in this book are not only laugh-out-loud funny. They are also remarkably candid about the emotions—fear, hurt, anger, loneliness, alienation—that fuel this art, and the perils and imperatives of working in today’s political landscape. Sicker in the Head gives us an entry pass to ‘the tribe of comedians’ that have provided a sense of belonging to Apatow and the other funny people who became his friends and colleagues in the art of laughter.”—Michiko Kakutani

“Judd Apatow has written his first sequel, and as sequels go, this second collection of interviews with creative artists, featuring a diverse lineup and wide-ranging conversations about life and comedy, is more The Godfather Part II than Jaws: The Revenge. . . . The interviews . . . go well beyond origin stories to fruitful discussions about the mysterious creative process.”The Washington Post

Praise for Sick in the Head

“An essential for any comedy geek.”Entertainment Weekly

“Fascinating . . . a collection of interviews with many of the great figures of comedy in the latter half of the twentieth century.”The Washington Post

“An amazing read, full of insights and connections both creative and interpersonal.”The New Yorker
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Sicker in the Head


I started this book before the pandemic. I did a few interviews—Mort Sahl, Whitney Cummings, Nathan Fielder, Gary Gulman—but I wasn’t exactly putting a ton of time into it. Then the pandemic hit and I realized that most of the people I wanted to speak with were stuck at home with nothing to do, too. It’s hard to say no to an interview when it is clear you are available. We all were available—for everything.

So, I began making calls and lining up conversations. And as we talked, a weird thing happened: Many of these conversations became way more personal and honest than they otherwise might have been, because we were in this vulnerable, raw space together. It’s hard to hold back in an interview when you have been pondering your life (and death) for the past few months—when not over-eating, drinking, or watching streaming programming you don’t even like.

Finishing this project was challenging. There were so many people I wanted to speak to, and I knew that as soon as the world calmed down it would become much harder to get access to them. As things opened up again, I was forced to give up my quest for Pete Townshend and Meghan Markle. Maybe for the next book. (Or the next pandemic?)

It’s hard to write the intro to this book because I still feel so in between. I am not who I was before the pandemic began and yet I am not sure who I am now. I am, frankly, existentially confused. What meaning does my life have? What is the point of all of the work I have done? Why am I so disinterested and interested at the same time? How come I have become so close to my cats? Why do I keep getting more cats? Maybe the conversations in this book will shed some light on these questions.

Other than my love for my family, the one consistent observation I have had, during all of this madness, is that I needed to laugh. I needed the insights of comic minds. I also was told by a lot of people that my work had given them brief, happy breaks from all we are experiencing, which was nice. I spent months getting those same breaks with Ted Lasso, Schitt’s Creek, Jackass, and anything by Maria Bamford.

I have always seen comedy as a lifeline—which is why I’ve been interviewing comedians about why they do what they do since I was fifteen years old. Without comedy, I don’t know how I would survive. When the pandemic was at full force, I grabbed my family and made a really silly movie. I didn’t know what else to do. Is that healthy? Is it denial? Is it medicine? Is it sick? I am not sure. But now I know that when the world seems to be collapsing my reaction is to make a movie about a group of people having a meltdown during a pandemic as they attempt to make a movie about flying dinosaurs. The process of making that film with my family got me through. It gave me purpose: to be ridiculous. Isn’t it all ridiculous? It also got me out of the house and into a community of people with the same goal—to make people smile. When the shit hits the fan that is all I have to offer. I may not know how to turn the gas off when the building is on fire, but I might be able to make you piss your pants. That’s got to be worth something?

I am still struggling. I don’t feel right. But maybe if things get back to normal, and maybe after I do another book and make a few more ridiculous movies, I will feel right again. And the world will have some more weird stuff to read and some more stupid shit to watch with the shades closed as the world teeters outside.

About the Author

Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow is one of the most important comic minds of his generation. He wrote and directed the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin (co-written with Steve Carell), Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40; he directed Trainwreck; and his producing credits include Superbad, Bridesmaids, and Anchorman. Apatow was also the executive producer of Freaks and Geeks and HBO’s Girls, and he created Undeclared and co-created the Emmy Award-winning television program The Ben Stiller Show. He is the author of Sick in the Head and editor of the collection I Found This Funny. Judd Apatow lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris. More by Judd Apatow
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