Once Upon a Long Ago: Judd Apatow

To determine just how long ago I interviewed Judd Apatow, you need only look at the opening line of the intro, where it is suggested that he “might not be a household name.” And in fairness, at the time we spoke, he wasn’t, except possibly in your hipper households, where his name might have been recognized for having appeared in the credits of such series as “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks & Geeks,” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” At the time of our conversation, though, he was still enough of an unrecognized comedic quantity that he was doing interviews with guys like me to help promote Shout Factory’s DVD release of “Undeclared: The Complete Series,” probably because it also gave him a chance to chat about his then-upcoming new film, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

For me, though, the funniest thing about our conversation appears not in the interview itself but, rather, on my MySpace page, where I detailed the amount of time it took to get my schedule to coincide with Apatow’s:

Thursday, July 21, 2005: The 25th…?!?!?!? That’s the word on the street. Jenn’s going in for induction…checking in at 8 PM on the 24th (provided there’s a bed to be had; the women actually in labor get dibs), getting the initial preliminary procedure out of the way, then the induction takes place at 6:30 AM on the 25th. Tick, tock, tick tock…hard to believe how quickly fatherhood will be here. I’m excited, I’m anxious, I’m scared to death, but I’m so, so psyched. Meanwhile, I need to get back to watching my advance of “Undeclared: The Complete Series.” I’m supposed to interview Judd Apatow tomorrow – woo-hoo!!! – and I want to be totally prepared…

Friday, July 22, 2005: Wherefore art thou, Judd Apatow…? I’m beginning to fear the worst about my interview with the creator of “Undeclared” and co-conspirator on “Freaks and Geeks.” I talked to his assistant on Tuesday, I think it was, and we set up an interview for today (Friday) at 6 PM EST. Well, I ran home at lunchtime today – 12:15 or so – and there was a message on the answering machine from Judd. I can only presume that his assistant never gave him any sort of time frame during which he was supposed to call me, since, y’know, he was about 6 hours off. Fair enough. I called his office, but he was “on the mixing stage,” probably working on his new movie, “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” starring Steve Carell. So they said he’d be calling me late this afternoon…ostensibly at about 6 PM, but it was hinted that it could be as late as 7 or 8 PM, as he might call me on his drive home. So I’m waiting ’til 8 PM, then I’m calling his office again (they’re on the west coast, so it’s early there yet) just to see about the odds of him actually calling. I hope he does; I’m not exactly gonna be available on Monday, and, beyond that, lord only knows when I’ll be able to do it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005: Boil the water…! No, not for the baby. Not yet, anyway. I’m just making spaghetti for Jenn. Just got back from Food Lion, where I picked up the appropriate makings: ground beef, angel hair pasta, and a four-cheese sauce. Should be tasty. I also grabbed some caffeine-free Pepsi for her as well. By the way, Judd Apatow never did call yesterday. So now I have no idea when I’ll be talking to him…as, clearly, it won’t be on Monday!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005: Well, I finally got to chat with Judd Apatow last night. Great guy, and he was extremely understanding about the fact that we kept passing like two ships in the night as a result of Miss Allyson Faith’s arrival last Monday. It was a great conversation that could easily have gone on longer than it did.

Now, about that interview…

Three highlights to inspire you to click over:

1. “I enjoyed my (‘Freaks and Geeks’) writing staff and production staff so much that I just wanted to try and keep everyone working. So we thought, what would be the best show we could come up with that allows us to hire a lot of these same people and a lot of these same actors? And we thought, well, by the time we get this on, most of these ‘Freaks and Geeks’ kids will be college age; let’s do a college show! It was as lazy as that. And then you think it will be really easy, that you’ll do a show that’s a little lighter than ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ but it turned out that a half-hour show is actually twice as hard to do as an hour show.”

2. “Seth Rogen, you know, we found him in Vancouver and he was just this odd, funny guy that, when we met him, was 16. And when we were shooting ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ he was just so funny to hang around with, and he would improvise some hilarious lines that no writers could ever come up with that, when it was time to do ‘Undeclared,’ I thought I needed young people to tell us how young people talked, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a kid on staff. And he was 18, so we made him one of the stars of the show and a writer. Then it turned out he was such a good writer that it was almost embarrassing, because his scripts were better than most everybody else’s scripts, and he was a kid, so we were all somewhat humiliated having him around.”

3. “I just saw ‘Wedding Crashers’ last night, and everyone was talking about how R-rated movies are doing well this summer, and I was shocked to realize that (‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’) is fifty times dirtier than ‘Wedding Crashers!’ I thought, omigod, we’re really going to surprise people, because we’re a lot dirtier than this!”

Now get clicking…but don’t forget to come back and comment!

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