Judd Apatow was always funny, and obsessed with comedians. When he was ten years old, he transcribed standup bits, writing them in a notebook. And then, even though he came from no money, paid a classmate 30 bucks to type the bits out – not for a school assignment, but simply so Judd could keep them neatly catalogued.
He began working on-air for his high school radio station on Long Island, which “barely broadcasted past the parking lot”, but used this credential to convince comedians’ managers to let him interview their clients. Much like his transcribed bits, the interviews never wound up on the air. They were strictly for Judd’s obsession.
A few years ago, he decided to publish the interviews in a book called Sick in the Head. I’m currently reading it. (And will be, for the next year, since I only read on the elliptical, and the book is 658 pages.) It’s a great collection featuring some of the best comedians, both recent and back in Judd's high-school days. He even re-interviewed some people all these years later for contrast.
In 1983, Judd flew out to West Hollywood to interview a young Jerry Seinfeld. When Jerry opened the door of his apartment to reveal an extremely younger Judd Apatow (he was 14, and definitely not a real reporter), Jerry's face dropped. But he hung in there and talked to Judd for a couple of hours. Here’s a good snippet:
JUDD: When did you first do standup?
JERRY: I did Catch a Rising Star one night. I guess this would qualify as my strangest experience. This is definitely it. My first time onstage, I write the whole act out, you know, and I put it there on my bed and rehearse it, over and over again. I’m standing there with a bar of soap, like it’s a microphone. And I got the scene memorized, cold. I get up there, and it’s gone. I can't remember a word. I was – I stood there for about 30 seconds with – saying absolutely nothing, just standing there, freaking out. I just couldn't believe it, all these people were looking at me. And then, I was able to just remember the subjects I wanted to talk about. This is absolutely true. I’m not embellishing this at all. I stood there and I went, “The beach... ah, driving... your parents...,” and people started laughing because they thought this was my act. I couldn't even really hear them laughing; I was like absolutely panicked. I think I lasted about three minutes and I just got off. That was my first show.