In the past 25 years, filmmaker Judd Apatow became one of the biggest names in comedy, and there's no end in sight. Having already conquered the film and TV worlds, Apatow is next heading back to his roots for a hilarious new stand-up special on Netflix, titled Judd Apatow: The Return. Apatow started his career doing stand-up before he was old enough to legally vote, and when recently speaking with CinemaBlend, he told me why performing comedy is so much easier for him now than it was back then.
When I was a kid, I had nothing to say at all. I did it from the time I was 17 until I was 24, and I had no life experience. I didn't have any strong opinions. I wasn't that strange a person, so I wasn't really reinventing the form. It's much easier to do it now that I'm 50 and have been through a lot and have a lot to talk about, and hopefully have some stories worth telling. So it's been really fun putting it together.
Having watched Judd Apatow: The Return ahead of its Netflix premiere, I can attest that it's also really fun to watch, since Apatow doesn't hold anything back in his storytelling, which is probably predictable for anyone who follows his career. The Knocked Up director runs the gamut on subject matter, from his female-heavy family to binge-watching TV shows to politics to his famous friends. There likely wasn't a single minute of material there that Apatow would have been able to write back in his early stand-up days, since the material is so informed by his later adult life.
While Judd Apatow was probably somewhat proud at the time of the stand-up material he'd written in those early days, that pride has dwindled over time. When I asked Apatow if he'd considered taking some of his old jokes and re-performing them fresh, he was not very enthused by the concept.
I can't say I'm proud of any of the old material. One time somebody asked to show a clip of me back in the day, and I literally can't find one joke that doesn't make me want to jump in a hole.
Many people can probably sympathize with the discomfort that comes with looking back at old writings or performances. (I have songs and stories from my high school years that I would prefer to shoot into space than share with others.) We'll likely never get to hear any of those old jokes Apatow used to tell, at least without some big uploads to YouTube, but I'll keep my hopes up.
Though he may have more negative strong feelings about his past material, Judd Apatow definitely put in the effort to make his new Netflix special as high quality as possible. He told me how the special first came together, and how he asked for an extended time window to make it happen.
I was performing at the Just for Laughs festival, and [Netflix] just happened to be at the show. They asked me if I wanted to do a special, and I said, 'Yes, but just give me a year.' And I thought that was enough time for me to really work hard on it and try to make it as good as all of these other specials that are out right now. It really is an amazing time for comedy. People are doing such strong, hilarious work. I just wanted to deserve to be up there.
While everyone's mileage varies when it comes to certain stand-up comedy acts, Judd Apatow certainly won't be disappointed with Judd Apatow: The Return. Especially that perfect ending, which is one of the best things ever.