“Sick in the Head”: Comedians Talk About Life

Not that you won’t find some humor involved, but Judd Apatow‘s Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, now out in paperback, isn’t necessarily for those wanting to laugh. It’s more for those who like to read about the process of creating and expressing humor.

Sick in the Head represents years of interviews (sometimes with collaborators) with 38 different comedy legends—mostly men, I must add in case that makes a difference.

In effect, states the publisher, Sick in the Head “becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times: “Open this book anywhere, and you’re bound to find some interesting nugget from someone who has had you in stitches many, many times.”


Albert Brooks: Be generous and you can be the best person who ever lived.

If I’ve learned anything—anything—getting older, it’s the value of moment-to-moment enjoyment.

Harold Ramis (1944-2014): Life is ridiculous, so why not be a good guy?

There’s a great rabbinical motto that says you start each day with a note in each pocket. One note says, “The world was created for you today,” and the other note says, “I’m a speck of dust in a meaningless universe,” and you have to balance both things.


Roseanne Barr: But my humor, I think, came from wanting to disarm people before they hit me. My family were hitters. If you made them laugh, they didn’t hit you. My dad wouldn’t hit me if I got him with humor right between the eyes.

Amy Schumer: I think that beautiful people are not any happier than people who are not as beautiful. Even with models—there’s always someone who is more beautiful or younger. So no matter what realm you’re operating in, it’s all relative. I didn’t develop my personality, or my sense of humor, because I felt unattractive. I thought I was attractive until I got older. It was probably a defense mechanism for whatever pain was going on around me. But I don’t think that people who feel beautiful feel like “I don’t need to do this other thing.”

Sarah Silverman: My dad taught me swears when I was a toddler, and I saw, at a really early age, that if I shocked people, I would get approval, and it made my arms itch with glee. I got addicted to it. It became this source of power in a totally powerless life.


Lena Dunham: There are always people telling you that your experience doesn’t matter, that it’s navel gazing or unnecessary. “We don’t need to hear about twentysomething girls who feel like they’re ten pounds overweight. We don’t need to hear about forty-year-olds getting divorced.” But we do need to hear it, because…it can be the difference between someone feeling like they have a place in the world and someone feeling they don’t.

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