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Apatow gets funny (mostly) for McSweeney's and 826LA

October 27, 2010 | 12:53 pm


Judd Apatow has edited an anthology titled "I Found This Funny," coming out Nov. 1, which benefits 826 National. It's kind of a funny humor anthology because some of its stories aren't funny at all. Yes, it includes pieces by Conan O'Brien, Steve Martin, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris and Paul Feig. But Philip Roth? Jonathan Franzen? Alice Munro?

"To me, everything in life is funny, so there's nothing I couldn't put in there," Apatow explained in a feature in Wednesday's edition of the Los Angeles Times. "So much of life is weird or odd or tragic and I always find a way to interpret that as humor."

After his two television series were canceled -- "Freaks and Geeks" in 2000 and "Undeclared" in 2002 -- Apatow, who'd never finished college, turned back to books. He explains:

"At some point, you need more input than output or your brain turns to mush," he says. Apatow asked everyone he knew "what should I have read at this stage in my life?"

And then, a funny thing happened: His own writing changed. "When you read something that's really strong and insightful, it makes you think about your thought process and how much courage it takes to reveal yourself in your work."

Apatow and 826 founder Dave Eggers will be bringing a mix of serious and silly to the stage Friday night to benefit 826LA, with an added musical element. The event is close to selling out -- even with tickets going for $250 and $500 -- and on Wednesday it was announced that singer/author Ryan Adams will be joining Gary Shandling, Lindsay Buckingham, Randy Newman, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Aziz Ansari (if, as the flyer notes, he doesn't get a paid gig first).

It's "a live version of the book," Apatow tells the Times. "If the book is a look into what I find interesting or emotional or funny, then that's what the concert is. These are just some of my favorite people."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Judd Apatow. Credit: Universal Pictures