Judd Apatow on "Crashing," "Girls," and being a real comedy nerd

Judd Apatow on stand-up, new show
Judd Apatow on stand-up, new show 07:11

Judd Apatow made a name for himself nearly two decades ago with the critically-acclaimed series “Freaks and Geeks,” and wrote, directed and/or produced such hit moves as “Bridesmaids,” “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and “Trainwreck.”

His new show on HBO, “Crashing,” starring Pete Holmes, is about an aspiring comedian whose world unravels when he discovers his wife’s affair.

Judd Apatow CBS News

And now, having had success as a filmmaker and TV producer, Apatow is returning to standup comedy.  As he explained on “CBS This Morning,” “I was looking for a way to lower my self-esteem and my salary at the same time!”

“Why did you want to do it now when you’ve already achieved such level of success? ‘Cause it’s hard,” said co-anchor Gayle King.

“That’s all I ever really wanted to do, was standup, and then I got sidetracked doing everything else,” Apatow said.

“You said that every comedian is seeking something; what were you seeking?” asked co-anchor Anthony Mason.

“I don’t know. I just wanted to get out of the house!” Apatow laughed. “I just have loved comedy since I was a kid. Kids are obsessed with baseball, they track all the players. But I would track, like, Michael Keaton and Jeff Altman’s career. I was a real comedy nerd. And I guess I was probably angry. Most comedians are kind of quietly angry, even sweet ones, down deeper.”

When asked if doing standup was validating for him, Apatow agreed. “To think of an idea and say it that night? When you make a movie and we think of a funny idea, you wait two years to see if it gets a laugh. It’s a really long time, and sometimes they don’t laugh!”

To watch a trailer for the series “Crashing,” click on the video player below. 

Crashing: A New Comedy Series (HBO) by HBO on YouTube

Apatow is also executive producer of the Netflix series, “Love,” now in its second season.

“I’m always fascinated by the characters — they’re weird, they’re odd, but they are somehow so relatable,” said King. “So, you know these people? Are you looking for a certain kind of character?”

“It’s fun to show people struggle,” Apatow said. “Sometimes people say, ‘You know what? How would  this guy get that girl and all of that?’ I think it’s just fun to watch things melt down, and everyone is trying to make things work. So sometimes a simple premise like just falling in love is enough for a whole show, ‘cause it can have joy and pain and everything in it.”

Both of Apatow’s daughters are also actresses: Maude, who appears in the Molly Shannon film “Other People,” and Iris, who plays a child star in “Love.”

“I had to direct her, because she doesn’t talk to me in life!” Apatow laughed. “We drive to school every day. She’s 14. At 14 they don’t talk to you for about 2 1/2 years. I drive her to school every day. She turns the radio on really loud, and I go, ‘What’s going on at school today?’  She goes, ‘Dad, you know when you try to talk to me when the music is on, that’s my pet peeve!’  So we sit just in silence for 20 minutes every day. It’s like a bad first date — this is not going well!”

As executive producer of the HBO series “Girls,” now in its sixth and final season, Apatow said of star Lena Dunham, “Lena is so brilliant and she, you know, over six years has really created a lot of very complicated characters, so it’s fun to watch her land the plane. It’s like ‘The Sopranos’ — you’ve got to figure out, how are we gonna end this?”

“So much of your humor is nerdy guy stuff,” said Mason. “How did you connect with her?”

“I met Lena after seeing ‘Tiny Furniture’ (2010), this movie that she made. I just loved everything she was doing. And then people always think I’m for all the dirty stuff [in ‘Girls’], but I’m the person going, ‘Do we have do that?’ I’m the uncomfortable guy!”

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  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.