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Interview: Judd Apatow

By LANCE GOULD  |  July 29, 2009

None of the comedians was George-like?
People were all a little George-like. But everyone who does comedy is really needy and has some relationship issues. Anyone who needs the world to love them and goes out in the middle of the night to get up on stage and hear laughs from 30 to 200 people, multiple times a week, is working through something.

Why is that? Why are comedians such dicks?
You have to be very angry to be a comedian — you have to see the world as unfair, and you want to rant and rail against it. But there are quirky, funny guys — smart guys — who aren't damaged, and they're just really funny, like Seinfeld, and Steve Carell, and Will Ferrell. And there's another group of guys who just think the system isn't fair and they want to tell you why. George Carlin would be the best example. A lot of great comedy is rage-driven.

How weird is it to direct your two pre-teen girls in a comedy with so many penis references? Does it seem strange to you?
It's fine for me as long as those things don't happen in the scenes they're in . . . and as long as they never see the movie. But I told my daughter Maude, who's 11, that I was going to edit a version of the movie that was appropriate just for her. I did that — and the movie's eight minutes long.

Do they have a clue as to what's going on here?
I talked to them a little bit about what the movie's about. Most scenes in [my] movies are coming-of-age movies in some respect. They are about immature people trying to think about how they want to live their lives. Underneath all the funny stuff, are ideas, that I believe are important, and I think the movies are hopeful. In this movie, even the toughest people can find a way to change their lives.

There's a scene in which Sandler's dad chides him for not being like Jackie Gleason and for working blue. Is that autobiographical?
Not in my family, but every once in a while you'll show a movie to someone in your family and they'll say, "Ohhhh, you don't need to do that." Usually how you get an insult from a family member is when you make a movie they like, they make a big deal out of it. They're like, "I really like this one. This one's better than the last one." They make fun of your movie when they like the one after it.

An example from your career?
Way too often to mention.

Would you ever want to work "clean"?
I'm not great working clean. I find it hard to be truthful without showing how people actually behave. You really have to censor yourself to get out of the R rating. And I don't seem to do my best work — because my world is pretty R-rated. Half of today has been R-rated already for me. I can't seem to get it across the other way. It's possible, but why? Why bother? We're all adults. Let other people entertain five-year-olds. And they do it very well — much better than me. I go see those movies. I've seen those movies 100 times — and I never think I can do it better. [Laughs]

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