Written By January 2013 : Page 2

tHe MAGAzine OF tHe WriterS GuilD OF AMeriCA, WeSt FADe in JUDD? REALLY? Apatow, the king of the dick joke? This issue contains many wor-thy cover contenders. For starters, the masterful David Chase, late of The Sopranos, daring to look back at the 1960s for his first film, Not Fade Away, then crafting both a personal memoir and iconic classic (page 10). Or how about Chris Terrio, whose Argo seamlessly blends two genres, the espionage thriller and Hollywood satire (page 26)? Then again, wouldn’t a Written By cover be eye candy if we’d selected the film stars who co-scripted Promised Land, Matt Damon and John Krasin-ski (page 34)? So why Judd Apatow? Why now, for our first issue of 2013, which already looms like the year of living dangerously? America has an insatiable appetite for Apatow. He fills the public’s bottomless pit of need with fast-food humor. Sure, there are a lot of masturbatory goofball sight gags and doofus talk. No man can brave-ly watch, stoic, as chest hair is waxed in The 40-Year-Old Virgin . So, yes, it hurts to laugh, and Apatow has been grimacing and giggling for more than 20 years, from Freaks and Geeks —the cult TV series created by Paul Feig—to the current semi-autobiographical This Is 40 that begins with the husband screwing his wife in the shower then boasting that he took Viagra because it’d make her a nice birthday present. Gross? The humorist who wrote that coarse scene is protecting a sensitive heart and soul: “My way of dealing with the world has always been to make fun of it and observe it but not take part in it. That’s how I became a writer. But when you have kids, suddenly you have to be part of things. It leads almost to a breakdown because your whole defense mechanism is now really destructive.” By his own admission, Judd makes movies about relationships while “surrounded by guys scared of talking to girls.” Apatow the soothsayer once said, “Eventually, the nerds and the geeks will have their day.” That day has arrived. It’s the time of Judd. Size matters to Apatow, and he’s gotten huge. Troll the Internet, and you’ll wonder at his seeming omniscience: Sketches at a Los Angeles gallery exhibit, “A Tribute to Judd Apatow,” curated by the owners of Gallery 1988. Producing the popular HBO series Girls . Guest-editing this month’s Vanity Fair Comedy Issue. Why now? Why is his brand of extremism so funny? “It’s so dif-ficult to shock America these days,” he observed not long ago, and thus feels compelled to push the comedy envelope until it shreds. It’s always a risk to probe the alchemy of humor, especially in Apa-tow’s case (although our contributing editor Lisa Rosen delicately balances craft and character and gross humor, page 18). An exas-W ritten B y © © WGAW OFFiCerS President Chris Keyser Vice President Howard A. Rodman Secretary-treasurer Carl Gottlieb MARK HANA UER WGAW BOArD OF DireCtOrS John Aboud, Scott Alexander, Alfredo Barrios Jr., Linda Burstyn, Marjorie David, Ian Deitchman, Carleton Eastlake, Katherine Fugate, David A. Goodman, David S. Goyer, Chip Johannessen, Kathy Kiernan, Michael Oates Palmer, Billy Ray, Thania St. John, Dan Wilcox exeCutiVe DireCtOr David Young GenerAl COunSel Tony Segall WGAW PHOne inFOrMAtiOn The Guild (All Departments) 323.951.4000 FAx 323.782.4800 WeBSite: WWW.WGA.OrG WGAW DePArtMentS Administration Agency Awards & elections Claims Contracts Credits Dues Diversity executive Offices Film Society Finance Human resources legal library Member Services Membership Organizing Public Affairs Publications registration residuals Signatories theater Operations Written By Pension & Health 323.951.4000 782.4520 782.4502 782.4569 782.4663 782.4501 782.4528 782.4531 782.4589 951.4000 782.4508 782.4637 782.4615 782.4521 782.4544 782.4747 782.4532 782.4511 782.4574 782.4699 782.4500 782.4700 782.4514 782.4525 782.4699 818.846.1015 800.227.7863 800.890-0288 WritersCare info. Written By welcomes your comments. Send letters to: 7000 W. Third St., L.A., CA 90048 Or E-mail us at writtenby@wga.org continues on page 4 2 • WG A W Written By J ANU AR Y 20 13

Fade In

Richard Stayton

JUDD? REALLY? Apatow, the king of the dick joke?

This issue contains many worthy cover contenders. For starters, the masterful David Chase, late of The Sopranos, daring to look back at the 1960s for his first film, Not Fade Away, then crafting both a personal memoir and iconic classic (page 10).Or how about Chris Terrio, whose Argo seamlessly blends two genres, the espionage thriller and Hollywood satire (page 26)? Then again, wouldn’t a Written By cover be eye candy if we’d selected the film stars who co-scripted Promised Land, Matt Damon and John Krasinski (page 34)?

So why Judd Apatow? Why now, for our first issue of 2013, which already looms like the year of living dangerously?

America has an insatiable appetite for Apatow. He fills the public’s bottomless pit of need with fast-food humor. Sure, there are a lot of masturbatory goofball sight gags and doofus talk. No man can bravely watch, stoic, as chest hair is waxed in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. So, yes, it hurts to laugh, and Apatow has been grimacing and giggling for more than 20 years, from Freaks and Geeks—the cult TV series created by Paul Feig—to the current semi-autobiographical This Is 40 that begins with the husband screwing his wife in the shower then boasting that he took Viagra because it’d make her a nice birthday present.

Gross? The humorist who wrote that coarse scene is protecting a sensitive heart and soul: “My way of dealing with the world has always been to make fun of it and observe it but not take part in it.That’s how I became a writer. But when you have kids, suddenly you have to be part of things. It leads almost to a breakdown because your whole defense mechanism is now really destructive.”

By his own admission, Judd makes movies about relationships while “surrounded by guys scared of talking to girls.” Apatow the soothsayer once said, “Eventually, the nerds and the geeks will have their day.”

That day has arrived. It’s the time of Judd. Size matters to Apatow, and he’s gotten huge. Troll the Internet, and you’ll wonder at his seeming omniscience: Sketches at a Los Angeles gallery exhibit, “A Tribute to Judd Apatow,” curated by the owners of Gallery 1988.Producing the popular HBO series Girls. Guest-editing this month’s Vanity Fair Comedy Issue.

Why now? Why is his brand of extremism so funny? “It’s so difficult to shock America these days,” he observed not long ago, and thus feels compelled to push the comedy envelope until it shreds.

It’s always a risk to probe the alchemy of humor, especially in Apatow’s case (although our contributing editor Lisa Rosen delicately balances craft and character and gross humor, page 18). An exasperated Chris Rock once responded to an academic journalist’s questions with, “You want to know what’s not funny? Thinking about it.” Yet a graphic example might help explain our adoration of Apatow’s low jokes.

True story: In 2005, Oklahoma Judge Donald Thompson’s behavior on the bench had aroused official suspicion. According to his court reporter’s testimony, “We were having a jury trial, a condemnation trial, and I heard a noise—it sounded like shh-shh—and I looked up at the bench and saw that Judge Thompson had a plastic tube on his penis. I was really shocked and kind of scared because it was so bizarre.”

Apatow embraces the bizarre because… But let’s return to the court reporter’s testimony: “It would be completely quiet in the courtroom, and you could hear Judge Thompson pumping. I remember once he was using the pump during a rape trial. Another time, it was during a murder trial. When I first saw his penis, it was just normal flesh color, but toward the end, the skin looked raw.”

Here’s when an Apatow nerd might say, “Are you fucking kidding me?” If Apatow filmed a scene like this, highbrow critics might comment on his sophomoric dick jokes, then allow that you laugh despite yourself. The adolescent, they’d call him, with the boy-toy humor, once again exaggerating the improbable into the impossible.

But back to the court reporter’s testimony: “Once, during the closing of a murder case, I glanced up at the bench and he was sitting there, holding his penis with his left hand, with the scrotum pulled flat, and he was shaving it with a razor. Not with long strokes. He was just picking at it.”

I’ll pause a moment to let you digest the sight gag. A judge for more than 22 years, married father of three, seated at the bench, using a penis pump under his robes. Shh-shh… All rise. Funny like the cancer in Apatow’s Funny People, it sort of hurts to laugh. Much the way we feel while watching This Is 40.

But there’s more, reality being relentless, tasteless, and never ending at the single punchline: Prosecutors built a case against the judge after a police officer testifying in a 2003 murder trial saw a piece of plastic tubing disappear under Thompson’s robe. During a lunch break, officers took photographs of the pump under the desk. Investigators later tested the carpet, Thompson’s robes, and the chair behind the bench—and found semen.

During his own trial, the former judge and state legislator argued that the criminal actions did not disrupt the courtroom proceedings, so what’s the prob? Thompson testified that the penis pump was given as a joke by a longtime hunting and fishing buddy. “It wasn’t something I was hiding,” he allowed. Although admitting that he might have absentmindedly squeezed the pump’s handle during court cases, he never used it to masturbate. The jury did not acquit.

“I don’t know if you can be a born-again virgin,” our cover boy once ruminated to a fan mag. Too modest. We’re witnessing the coronation of Judd Apatow. He’s the King of Comedy. And this is his second coming.

—Richard Stayton, Editor

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Fade+In/1259317/138600/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here