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Opening Night – Apatow and Sandler’s Real-Lives Shape the Comedy and Drama of Funny People

Emotional pain and how to deal with it is the driving force of most stand-up comics’ material. It’s also the throughline of Judd Apatow‘s third movie, Funny People. So when AMC News caught up with Apatow and his cast, it’s no surprise that pain and stand-up comedy were the main topics of conversation.

Apatow and Funny People star Adam Sandler were roommates in North Hollywood a few decades ago when they were both starting out. In fact, the movie’s opening scene where a young George Simmons (Sandler) makes prank phone calls to a deli is actual footage of Sandler shot by Apatow from back then.

During our sit-down interview, Apatow told me how he always wanted to write a story using those real-life experiences: Starting out on the comedy circuit, working for free, and writing material for other comedians. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, who play comics in the movie, told me Apatow really nailed it with his hard-knock life depiction of young comedians who have yet to “break.” They compared Funny People to Almost Famous and what that film meant to aspiring music journalists.

And then both guys promptly went off the rails also comparing Funny People to the importance of movies like Quicksilver (for bicycling), Airborne (for rollerblading) and even Will Ferrell’s Blades of Glory (for figure skating). Even on the tail end of a painful 8-hour day of non-stop press interviews in a small hotel room, these comedians still found a way to make it all funny.

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