Get 'Knocked Up' With Judd Apatow

Learning to Write From TV

Professional comedy, as some like to say, is no laughing matter. Comedians travel for months and years, testing their material and refining their onstage routine.

As a writer, Apatow had his own methods. Among them was to tape episodes of "Saturday Night Live" and copy verbatim the show's dialogue onto paper. Like a young Hunter S. Thompson transcribing the entire texts of "The Great Gatsby" and "The Sun Also Rises" into his typewriter, he was determined to know how it felt to write those magical words.

The sensibility of certain styles of comedy "gets hard-wired into your brain," Apatow said, "and it becomes like a language you can't shake if you try."

No longer just writing and directing, 2007 is set to be the year Apatow becomes one of the biggest comedy producers in Hollywood. This year alone he has at least two more films on which his imprimatur is sure to be prominently stamped.

Due out in August is another collaboration with Seth Rogen, but that movie, called "Superbad," is a Rogen original. He wrote it with pal Jonah Goldberg and delivered the script to Apatow around 2001. It took some time, but the flick that the producer calls "a really sweet, ridiculously raunchy, R-rated movie" is tipped to be a late summer hit.

For Christmas time, Apatow and fellow "Freaks and Geeks" alum Jake Kasdan will present "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." It will star John C. Reilly in a satiric take on Joaquin Phoenix's Johnny Cash and Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles.

"It's a fake music biopic and it really makes me laugh," Apatow said. "It's the 70 years of this gentleman. He's been addicted to a lot of drugs, had many marriages, ups and downs, a slight addiction to PCP for a while, and this is his life story."

Apatow's home life is slightly tamer. He's married to actress and "Knocked Up" co-star Leslie Mann, and he cast the couple's two young daughters in the film.

Nepotism is a big part of Hollywood culture, but Apatow's not so sure he's done his daughters any huge favor.

"Those are my children playing the kids and it's very cruel to them because they're two of the stars of the movie, but it's a very kind of racy R-movie and they will never get to see the movie," he said, now on the verge of cracking a smile. "What can you do to a kid that's meaner than that? Let them star in a movie they never seeā€¦"

Listen closely to Judd Apatow and there's no question. It's good to be the mayor.

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