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Friday, October 22, 2010

Director Judd Apatow Talks Filmmaking, Pee Wee Herman, and S.F. (VIDEO)

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Back in September, we gave our readers a chance to interview director Judd Apatow-- the man behind the TV show Freaks and Geeks, and director of movies like Knocked Up and The Forty Year Old Virgin. Readers sent in three sample questions they would ask Apatow, and we picked the ones we liked best. The winner was Cory Sklar, a self-described comedy nerd who works at a music software company in SOMA. In his interview with Apatow, the two discuss the director's youthful propensity for stalking the famous, the Mexican-Jewish part of town, and the anthology Apatow edited for McSweeny's, I Found This Funny.

Read our edited version of the interview below, and for a longer version (in which you will get to hear why Apatow will never do a re-make and the new Pee Wee Herman movie) watch the video after the jump. For more video awesomeness, subscribe to SFWeekly TV.

C: So I won a contest to interview you.

J.A.: You did. That's how most people get to interview me.

C: I thought I was special. So I feel a bit like a Make a Wish Foundation kid right here.

JA: Well ...

C: I'm not dying.

JA: Yet.

C: I heard when you were young you knocked on Steve Martin's door?

JA: I didn't -- I drove by his house and saw him out washing his car or something and asked for his autograph. I use to chase after people. Once I saw Robert Conrad, the actor, when I was on vacation in South Carolina and I chased after him on bicycle for three miles. I was all about seeking out people. I use to write letters to everyone on television to see who would send me an autograph back. I would write, "Dear Merv Griffin, You are the best talk show host in the world, please send me an autograph," and then I'd take out another piece of paper [and write], "Dear Mike Douglas, You are the best talk show host in the world please send me an autograph." And I would do it  for years, every night, as many letters as I could. I still have a big stack of Jack Klugman autographs at home.

C: You also had an interview show when you were young?


JA: I did. I used to interview comedians in high school for a high school radio station. I interviewed like 50 people, all just people I wanted to meet. I created an interview show just so there'd be a reason for people to give me their time. This was in 1983, 1984, and I interviewed [Jay] Leno and John Candy and [Jerry] Seinfeld, Howard Stern, "Weird" Al Yankovic, Steve Allen, Henny Youngman, Sandra Bernhard ... anybody that I liked. I would trick them into thinking that I was a real interviewer.

C: I want to move on to some of your movies. ... I saw Funny People, and I wanna say it's really stuck with me. It feels kind of like a movie from the '70s. They don't really make movies like that anymore. It felt very personal, is what I'm saying.
JA: Well, it definitely felt like a moment where I'd be allowed to make a movie like that that I might not be allowed to make again. There's one moment where you have enough success where you can do something a little more personal. It's not like the world was screaming for a "comedian-who-has-a-fatal-disease" movie. But there are a lot of things that I wanted to say about my journey in comedy, and all the questions that are raised, [like] "What's the purpose of all this?" and how even when terrible things happen to people how difficult it is to change and evolve even in the face of something terrifying, like a fatal disease.
C: Are we gonna see more of the writer-director point of view in the future? Is it going to get smaller and more intimate and personal, or are we just gonna go balls-out crazy?
JA: I try to do both at the same time, so if I'm directing I tend to do things that are more personal because I feel like if I do something that's just silly there's a lot of people who could direct that really well ... But the things that are just about me or my feelings about certain things are things I don't feel like I could pass off to somebody else where they would understand ... but that doesn't mean there's not a thriller in my future. Maybe a ghost story, a house that's really scary, or maybe a lot of people get chained together and have to kill each other.
C: I wanna talk about the book. The title is I Found This Funny: My Favorite Humor Pieces and Some That May Not Be Funny at All -- is that true?
JA: The book is an anthology of humor and articles about humor and poetry and cartoons and short stories and just things that I like, and after I re-read it I thought, "Wow, a good third of this is not funny at all." ... Maybe odd funny, but not ha ha funny. ... I'm really oddly proud of it. I feel like I wrote it. I didn't actually write it.
C: Is there a foreword by you at least?

JA: There's a very brief foreword. I may have written the entire forward on a BlackBerry while in the bathroom. ... It's perfect for the bathroom, it's perfect for an airplane, it's perfect if you're going into a dentist's office and they make you wait for an hour.
C: You want to tell me what the funniest one is?
JA: I find hilarious Simon Rich, who's a writer for Saturday Night Live and has a lot of short humor pieces that are in there. ... There's a hilarious sketch from Adam McCain and Tom Janice that they wrote for Saturday Night Live that Alec Baldwin was in ... The "Look Well Pilot," that was a pilot that Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien wrote for Adam West in the mid-'90s ... where he plays a guy who's an actor on a television show who was a detective and now the show is over and he has a badge in Lucite, like an honorary badge from the city of Beverly Hills or something, and he tries to solve crimes. There's also a Raymond Carver story, and Flannery O' Connor and F. Scott Fitzgerald -- basically I made the book just so I could put my friends' work next to Hemingway's.


C: Do you like it here in San Francisco, or do you think it's a shithole?
JA: Why would you use the word "shithole"? ... Does anyone think of San Francisco as a shithole?
C: Certain parts.

JA: Where you live?
C: Yes.
JA: You live in the uh, Mexican Jewish section?
C: There's lots of delis and burritos.


C: You're one of the good guys, Judd ... to all Mexican schlubby Jewish guys out there ... you're a superhero.

JA: You're a subdivision of the schlubby Jew, because there's the schlubby Jew and then there's the schlubby Mexican Jew, there's the schlubby Asian  Jew, the scrubby Brazilian Jew ...
C: Well you're kind of like our Miles Davis.
JA: I'm the schlubby Turkish Jew. ... I feel like I'm getting a lot of guys like you laid. ... Like it used to be embarrassing to have sex with guys like us, but now it's kinda almost a cool thing to do.
C: Thank God in 2010 for a man like you to get me laid. Nice meeting you, Judd.

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