There are so many great moments in Judd Apatow’s new book Sick in the Head, a collection of interviews the author has conducted over the past thirty years with pretty much every big-name comedian you can think of. You read that right, thirty years. Apatow, 47, and most well-known for directing and producing movies and series like Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Girls, and, very soon, Trainwreck (with Amy Schumer — could we be more excited?), began interviewing comedic heroes for his high school radio station in the early 80s, when he was a tenth grader struggling with his parents’ divorce and his identity being “the last kid picked in gym.” Not surprisingly, he was drawn to outsiders and comedians “who called out the b.s.” and “said that people in power were idiots and not to be trusted.” He talks to everyone in this book — I mean everyone: Chris Rock, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Mel Brooks, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, just for starters. I wish I could share more, but because it’s Father’s Day, and because we’re here in DALS family land, I’m going to focus on a few moments when Apatow and his subjects discuss being dads. PS: There’s also a nice little surprise at the end for you. Happy Father’s Day!
Judd: Is it important your kids are smart?
Jeff Garlin: No. I mean, yes, I hope they’re smart and self-reliant so they can enjoy life — but they’ll probably be more miserable if they’re smart. If they’re stupid, they’re going to have a great time. Because really, everything is created for stupid people. Books, movies, TV shows for the most part — they’re for stupid people. So they would be much happier if they were stupid. But I think both my boys are going to be miserable just like they’re father.
Judd: So they’ll be smart and miserable.
Jeff: Well, they go hand in hand.
Jeff: Do you know any smart people who are just, like, chill? Really happy?…You don’t, do you?
Judd: I don’t. I mean, I don’t think I’m smart. But I think I’m beginning to think I’m smart based on how miserable I am.
LOUIS CK [above, with his TV daughters]
Louis: [My daughter] will be the last one of her friends to get a smartphone. And because she’s watched all her friends change since getting them, and I’ve watched them change, too. I know all these kids. I know the parents and I know the kids. I’ve known them since they were little. And I see these kids who are suddenly seized by this thing. When they come over — like, my daughter had a sleepover party recently and I made her friends check their phones at the door.
Judd: They start shaking.
Louis: They itch, they shake, they can’t listen to each other — it hurts them to not have their phones. And she’s observing because she’s not one of them. It’s a big caution for her. So when she does get one, she’ll have a better shot than I have and that her friends have had…It’s pollution. You need time by yourself. I was watching Rocky with a friend of mine. And there’s all these scenes of him sitting on this dirty mattress, alone — the guy is so alone, it’s beautiful how alone he is. Nobody’s alone like that anymore. Nobody. You know, cops on the beat in New York are staring at their phones. Airline pilots are on iPads. F**ing hell. It’s crazy.
Judd: In some way you must have perfected some sense of balance between your time at home and your time at work…
Jon: I have done my best but it’s still not satisfactory, especially as they get older…It’s different when they begin to share and experience things that are more complex. It’s one thing to, you know — I have this letter up in my office. It’s something my daughter Maggie wrote to me…It says “Daddy, I know you are a good writer. You’re a good surfer,too. When you got on that big wave, you got hurt bad. I know you saw a lot of nature. You’re a great dad. Love, Maggie.” That is, like, beautiful. It’s simple. But now, they’re older and they are beginning to articulate things in a much more complex way and you need to be there. And nine-to-nine is a sh**y schedule for that kind of thing.
Judd: I find that everything about a family is drama and emotions and tears and yelling. How is that for you as somebody who doesn’t live his life that way? How do you deal, in the middle of the madness of kids, when someone wants something so badly they will scream and push you emotionally until you crack to get it?
Jerry: My kids never get me to crack. It’s because of my stand-up training. Like, “You’re nothing compared to the Comedy Cellar.”
Judd: That’s so funny.
Jerry: “You think you’re tough?” My kids said something to me last night, and I said, “That line is so weak, give me my last name back. You don’t deserve it.”
Judd: I have the opposite thing with my daughter. She said to me the other day, “Dad, all those things you say that you think are jokes are not funny.”
Jerry: Oh my son had one even worse than that. We were making up words as a game at dinner one night and I said, “You know, I’ve made up a lot of words that people actually use as words.” And my son said, “Uh, really, like what? Unfunny?”
Judd: I have this thing with my daughter where I hate any boy that comes by — like, in my bones, I hate any boy that is circling.
Judd: But there’s this kid that is like a super-goofy, nerdy kid, who I realize, Oh, that’s me. That’s exactly who I was in high school. And I’ll say “What about dating that guy?” And she’s like, “Oh, he’s such a nerd.” And I’m like, “You don’t understand him. He’s special. He’s going to fill out one day. He’ll show everybody.”
Judd: I’m like “How come you don’t want to date my doppelgänger?”
Jimmy: But she will date someone like you.
Judd: That’s the scary part. I wish I had self-esteem so she would like a guy with self-esteem.
Jimmy: I’m going to be so bummed out because my daughter is going to marry some feminine guy that laughs at himself too much. And I’m going to go, That’s me. She did it.
All proceeds from Sick in the Head go to Dave Eggers’ 826, which offers free tutoring and literacy programs for kids. Comment below to be eligible to win a free autographed copy. Two winners will be chosen; deadline Friday, June 19, 8:00pm ET. Good luck! Update: The winners have been selected. Thanks for playing everyone!