Comedians On Fatherhood

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 GeeksKnocked 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!

JEFF GARLIN

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.

Judd: Yeah.

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.

JON STEWART

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.

JERRY SEINFELD

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?”


JIMMY FALLON

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.

Jimmy: Yes.

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.”

Jimmy: (laughs)

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!

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260 Comments

Rosa

I loved Apatow’s compilation, I Found This Funny, from a few years ago and can’t wait to read this!

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Heather

I can’t wait to read this. I love how you can hear them all speaking in your head when you read the quotes.

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Jenny

We’ve been watching Freaks and Geeks with our kids. And explaining a lot of our high school lives.

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Meegan

So funny–I have heard such great things about “Sick in the Head”. Would love a signed copy to give to my husband for Father’s Day!

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Jodi

We are huge Apatow fans in our house (and all the other comedians you highlight too!) What a great gift this would be for my husband – train reading at its best!

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lindsey stewart

Would love to read some of his interviews! I have been a huge fan since Freaks and Geeks and might have a bit of a girl crush on his wife.

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Liz

I just listened to his interview on Howard Stern yesterday…would love to read the book!

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Tuvy

This is GOLD!! I’d love a signed copy for my dad (belated Father’s Day gift!)..we’re both huge fans!!

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Sarah

I hadn’t heard about this book, it looks interesting. Thanks for a great giveaway!

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Sarah J

So good. Also, that’s a great prize! I thought the surprise would be a discount code (because I would USE it because I’m going to BUY this book) but an autographed copy would be a wicked Father’s Day gift!

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nancy m

This looks hilarious! And a perfect fathers day gift for my husband’s FIRST fathers day!

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Veronica

This sounds like a wonderful collection! His comedy is always bittersweet. Looking forward to this one!

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Josh

As a devoted dad reader of DALS, I loved this post. Can’t wait to read this book!

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Megan

I’m pretty comedy-obsessed, and loved reading these little snippets from Apatow’s book. Would LOVE to have a signed copy!

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Ashley in MD

Oh, my husband would love this! I hope I win it for him. What a great Father’s Day gift.

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Barbara Morgan

I will definitely read this book whether or not I win the autographed copy. Love, love, love Judd Apatow.

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Hannah

This would be such a great father’s day gift for my dad! I can’t wait to go home this weekend and see him. I’m such a long-time fan of your blog, Jenny + Andy — I love how you sprinkle book posts like this one in with your stellar recipes.

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Elizabeth

I would love to give this to my husband for his first Father’s Day. He is a huge comedy nerd. Thanks!

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Bea

Thanks for the chance to win. Looks like an entertaining read AND the fact that all the proceeds go to literacy programs is even better reason to add it to my wish list on Amazon. Good for Mr. Apatow!

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Cassie Sue

What an awesome book! It sounds honest and funny! I didn’t even know about it until now.

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Ginny

That looks fantastic! Thanks for the last minute Father’s Day idea. My husband will love it.

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Gillian

Love this – super sweet, and would love a copy. It’s on my amazon wish list! 🙂

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Esha

I can’t wait to read this book. And…I think Jeff Garlin has something there…the way he correlates misery to smartness.

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Amy G

I love this! Want to give it to my husband to celebrate his first Father’s Day since we are expecting twins!!!

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Kate

blown away that ALL proceeds are being donated! i’d love a free copy, but also feel like i should buy one, just because!

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Jenifer

I spent part of last night listing to Judd Apatow’s interview on Fresh Air and I look forward to reading this book. I had the pleasure a number of years back to go to a Cub’s game and hear Jeff Garlin sing Take Me Out to the Ballpark, classic!

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Angela

Louis CK’s comments about a smartphone remind me to keep saying no to a phone for as long as I can!

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Catherine

Despite the fact that I love Judd Apatow (his movies and himself, based on interviews, of course), I hadn’t really considered reading this (in part because I tend to stick with fiction). But now? It just moved to the top of my list.

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Awads

i love all those guys!! I hope my son grows up w/o constantly checking a phone!! and he can be a smart nerd, as far as I’m concerned! thanks!

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Audrey

Hehehe, I love how laid back all these dads seem… but you know they’re such incredible fathers! These interviews are great!

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Yana

It’s true! Comedians are the only people who say anything worth listening to anymore. Sounds like a great book!

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Kathleen

I think I may actually buy this for my husband for father’s day, he’s more of a sports page/internet reader but he definitely likes all of these comedians.

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Tanya Rodecker Wendt

This book sounds hilarious! I can’t wait to read it and share it with my husband.

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Kimberly Reese

Me,me, me! But I put it on my wish list just in case I don’t win

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Sarah

I love Freaks and Geeks. It could’ve been about me and my friends in high school. We were the geeks who dressed up for Hallowe’en in grade 9 and got pelted with verbal abuse from the cool kids.

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Karen Player

It’s nice to hear that all of us – moms and dads – are so similar in our fears, hopes and love for our children. Thanks again, Jenny, for the peak into this book!

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Sarah

I can’t wait to read this! Thanks again Jenny and Andy for offering so much more than recipes on your phenomenal site.

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Cora

ugh…if only we could back in time to before cell phones, parenting would be so much easier.

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Kate Bassett

Cannot wait to read this! I love Judd Apatow and most of the comedians in the book!

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Caitlin

Love that he started these interviews 30 years ago, that the proceeds go to 826, and all the excerpts above! Can’t wait to pick one up!

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Meg

Oh I love this! I wish I would have been on the ball to get for Father’s Day! Can’t wait to read it.

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holly

I loved, loved reading this. If i don’t win a copy (hoping, hoping…) I will definately purchase one.

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Bria Silbert

For these comedians to talk about their vulnerability makes them all the more real and likeable.

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Robyn Stewart

This is such a great give-a-way. These guys are great (love them all). But my favorite comic is my husband who keeps us laughing everyday! I would love to give him this book for Father’s Day.

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Tanya

I just heard Judd Apatow interviewed on Fresh Air last night. It was really interesting. The book sounds great!

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Amanda B.

I have to at least try for this one! To get an autographed copy of Judd’s book would be a huge hit for my husband (and let’s be totally honest, me too). I can’t wait to read this book and see Trainwreck, too.

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Terry

Love the conversational format. Looks like a fun summer read. Thanks for sharing this sample, makes you want to read the whole book..

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Robin Sterling

I saw Judd Apatow talking about the book on CNN the other day. Your excerpts make me even more intrigued.

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Emily

I would LOVE to win a copy of this book. I have some friends that volunteer at 826 though, so if I don’t win I suppose I’ll just have to buy one 🙂

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Elizabeth

These are so funny. I can’t wait to give this book to my husband – and then read it myself.

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Kathie Engelbrecht

thanks for the sneak peek and chance to win. Sounds like a good book

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Christina

Hilarious and poignant! I’m going to have to ask my dad for some of his insight…

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Bearsmama

I’m a huge reader, but my Husband, not so much. However, there are books on comedy or music that we both will read. Or at least I’ll have a better chance of getting him to read. This is one of those books. Can’t wait to read it!

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Tracy

Sounds awesome! My son was a part of 826LA here in Venice a few years back – amazing program!!

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jenn glazer

I’d like to see how the questions have matured over 30 years. And then I wish I were that smart 30 years ago to do something this cool.

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Stephany park

I’m 26 and raising 1 toddler and a newborn. I need to laugh. This book sounds so perfect.

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Laurel

I can’t wait to read this book! I loved Seinfeld’s comment to his son to give him his last name back, ha!

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jenn wilkinson

I love this idea and your books and blog!! Happy Father’s day Andy!

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Sarah Young

I would love to win a signed copy to give to my husband — the best dad I know — for his birthday!

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Nerissa

This book sounds amazing. Reminds me a bit of Seinfeld’s “Riding in Comedians with Cars” series, which is also not to be missed.

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dana

cannot wait to read this!! would love an autographed copy, but if not, i’ll be purchasing anyway 🙂

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Shannon

Thanks for sharing this. I wanted to read the book after seeing Judd Apatow on The Daily Show, and now it’s a must buy.

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Stephanie

I like to think I could hold my own over beers with some of these guys, but the truth is that I wouldn’t stand a chance! I’ll buy the book and pretend, though 🙂

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Nancy

Book sounds hilarious – would be great for my husband since we’re expecting!

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Laura

I just listened to Judd Apatow on Fresh Air and WTF. He seems like such a sincere person, and I can’t believe how long he has been interested in comedy. I can’t wait to read this collection.

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Nina Leung

I loved reading this! It reminds me that everyone goes through the same crazy stuff as a parent. Great insights. I need this book!

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Linnea

Dads rock! What an amazing giveaway! Would love a copy of this honest, creative, and funny book.

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Angela

Comedians ARE the intellectuals of our time! 🙂 I would love a signed copy.

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Heather

Me, please! I enjoyed what I read so I’ll definitely put this book on my list. Thank you for the opportunity to win it!

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Natalie McMonagle

Very excited to read the book. My husband is a creative, funny guy and I’m so thankful my daughter has him in her life. Cheers to the men who make us laugh!

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Katrina

That was the best! I especially loved the Seinfeld. I will read this book for sure (even if I don’t win).

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Aidel.K

This looks like a great read, and if I don’t win this copy, I’ll surely be purchasing one.

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Laurie

So interesting and fun to hear these comedians’ insights into parenting! Thanks for sharing these excerpts.

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Anne Moore

I saw Judd on Jon Stewart’s show and Sick in the Head looks like a great book!! I’m looking forward to the movie Trainwreck.

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sharon

Dad’s need to be celebrated more…then perhaps more men who father children will stick around…want to embrace fatherhood and all its rewards. My dad raised 6 girls and 1 boy. He wasn’t perfect but oh my god we all loved him,

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Haley

I’m convinced that Jimmy Fallon is literally the cutest dad. He seems to really adore his girls, and that is just so precious. Also, Louis C.K. is BRILLIANT, and so insightful. His show “Louie” is one of my favorites. This seems like such a great book!

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Sarah C.

Would love to win this book! You’ve piqued my interest, for sure, so I’ll read it from the library if I don’t win 🙂

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