Thursday, March 03, 2016

New Book: Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

Probably about a month ago, I finished reading The Dog by Joseph O'Neill.  It's a first-person narrative novel about a New York lawyer who randomly runs into a friend from college, who ends up offering the lawyer a job as kind of a trustee for the college friend's extremely wealthy family in Dubai.  The narrator moves to Dubai, and makes a couple of expat friends.  The wealthy family eventually gets into some legal issues, and the UAE authorities blame the narrator.  There were some good parts, and at times, it felt a little like a Wes Anderson movie, but overall I was not fulfilled.

I then read Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal, which explored the ever-present relationship between rock and roll and the occult and alternate spiritual beliefs, from the effect of voodoo and hoodoo practices on southern blues to The Beatles' interest in transcendental meditation to the many musicians who fell in love with the mystique of Alistair Crowley to Jay-Z's many clues that he is, in fact, a member of the Illuminati.  It was an interesting read, as I have long had an interest in both rock and roll and the occult, although sometimes it seemed like the author got a little too wrapped up in the minutiae of whatever particular belief system he was discussing.  I'm also not sure I agree with the underlying premise of the book:  that without the occult, there would be no rock and roll.

Since then, I started reading Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow.  Apatow -- who, of course, is one of the most successful writer/director/producers in comedy over the last 15 years -- was obsessed with comedy and comedians from a very young age.  In high school, he started interviewing comedians for his high school radio station (although mostly for himself), and he has continued to interview comedians throughout his career.  This book is a collection of those interviews, and thus far it's fantastic.  What's amazing is that he interviewed Jerry Seinfeld in 1983 (six years before Seinfeld went on the air) and Jay Leno in 1984 (eight years before he became the Tonight Show host), along with many others before they were famous (and many others after they were famous).

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