Judd Apatow defines comedy as "speaking your truth and revealing your darkest, deepest stuff that for most people they would keep hidden." Three decades and change into his career, the writer, producer and director will be sharing his insights in online courses for MasterClass.
A trailer for his course focuses on Apatow's process and philosophies. "People should look at comedies as dramas, when they're writing," he says in the clip. "They should be stories that work just as well without any jokes." At another point he says to "ask yourself a lot of questions, because usually that's where the humor is, in your identity; you're using those real-life moments as ingredients that are inspired by things that have happened in your life."
His goal with the class is to teach how to make, direct, write and perform comedy. The course focuses on everything from standup and improv to crafting first drafts and story pitching. In the trailer, he does this with plenty of examples from his filmography, including clips from Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, Crashing and Knocked Up. The clip ends with a callback to a scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. "Find the courage to tell a heartfelt, great story," he says, "to show how people try to grow, how they try to find happiness and every once in a while they pee with a boner."
Regarding the course as a whole, Apatow released a statement about what he hopes students get out of it. "I have been mentored by many great comedians in my life," he said. "If someone out there watches this class and it's helpful in their development as a comic mind, and they can create something that makes the world a happier place, then I did something that I can be proud of."
Pre-enrollment for Apatow's class begins today. The classes will start on a yet to be announced date.
MasterClass launched in 2015 with online courses where celebrities teach about their profession. The program's other comedy instructor is Steve Martin. Other teachers include Christina Aguilera (singing), Hans Zimmer (film scoring), Gordon Ramsay (cooking) and Herbie Hancock (jazz), among others.
Apatow recently made a documentary about the late comic Garry Shandling, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, which will debut on HBO on March 26th. He also co-directed a documentary about the Avett Brothers, May It Last.
"Their music is about reaching out and trying to connect with other people, as well as the obstacles of love," Apatow said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "And I try to express some of the same things in the realm of comedy."