MasterClass – Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

Lesson Plan

  1. Introduction
    Meet your new instructor: writer, director, producer, and stand-up extraordinaire Judd Apatow. In your first lesson, Judd tells you what you’ll learn, why he’s teaching, and why we need comedy now more than ever.
  2. Judd’s Journey
    Judd shares stories and lessons from a lifetime in comedy. Hear how he fell in love with comedy, interviewed his childhood idols, and went from washing dishes to making Hollywood hits.
  3. Writing Stand-Up Comedy
    When it comes to stand-up comedy, Judd’s thesis is simple: the more personal you get, the funnier you’ll be. Learn how to find, develop, and refine gut-busting stand-up material based on your own experiences.
  4. Performing Stand-Up Comedy
    Don’t let nerves or inexperience stop you from getting up on stage. Judd educates you on how to work the crowd, overcome stage fright, and find value in every performance.
  5. Developing Life Into Story
    Many of Judd’s most hilarious and heartfelt stories are based on his own experiences-but real life is just one ingredient. Judd offers guidance on how to examine your life, identify humorous moments, and use them as jumping off points for comedic stories.
  6. Case Studies: Developing Life Into Story
    After taking a detailed look at two projects that are based on real experiences, Judd shares valuable lessons on how to create stories that are hilarious, relatable, and engaging.
  7. Crafting Comedic Storylines
    Judd believes that when you write, you should look at your comedies as dramas. In this lesson he shares the tools he uses to infuse heart and humor into everything he does.
  8. Structuring Films, Part 1
    Judd reveals how he cracked the code on story structure and shares the basic template that he uses for many of his projects.
  9. Structuring Films, Part 2
    Judd teaches you how to make the most out of your opening scenes and utilize “set pieces” for maximum comedic effect.
  10. Writing Process: First Draft
    Judd shares his step-by-step process for brainstorming scene ideas, creating an outline, and setting reasonable writing goals for a first draft.
  11. Writing Habits
    The prospect of filling the blank page is scary-even for Judd. Learn Judd’s personal habits for finding his flow and allowing his creative mind to take the reins.
  12. Character, Part 1
    Amazing characters are at the heart of any great comedy. Judd reveals a secret weapon that he uses when he’s looking for character inspiration. Plus, he teaches you how to craft compelling, authentic, and funny characters through psychology, ego, and emotion.
  13. Character, Part 2
    Learn how to milk the most humor out of your characters through carefully designed dynamics and strong presence.
  14. Dialogue
    A joke always works better when it is true to character. Learn how to use your characters’ desires, insecurities, and personalities to craft realistic, funny dialogue.
  15. Tips for Writing Television
    Writing an entire season of television can be a daunting task. Judd gives you guidance on how to familiarize yourself with writing for this unique format, plus insight into how he and his collaborators plan a full-season arc.
  16. Workshopping Scripts, Part 1
    Collaboration is an essential aspect of Judd’s creative process. Learn how you can use input from peers and friends to take your projects to the next level.
  17. Workshopping Scripts, Part 2
    Everything in screenwriting is about rewriting. Judd examines the fundamental role that rewrites have played in his projects and how he refines his work until the picture is locked.
  18. Casting
    Casting is key in bringing a character to life. Judd explains his process for finding the right actors and conducting auditions in a way that encourages improvisation and collaboration.
  19. Working With Actors
    Judd discusses his guiding principles for working with actors and lays out the methods he uses to help them give their best performances.
  20. Advice for Actors
    Learn how to knock ’em dead in your next audition. Judd explains the essential dos and don’ts for actors who are trying out for roles.
  21. Directing: Tone
    When you’re making a comedy, it’s all about establishing and maintaining your tone. In this lesson, Judd examines this crucial component of filmmaking and describes the steps you should take to communicate your creative vision with your collaborators.
  22. Directing: Shooting Comedy
    There is no reason not to make something. Judd demystifies the process of directing, explains how he taught himself filmmaking, and provides rules for always capturing the content you need.
  23. Directing: Production
    From budgets to scheduling to managing a crew, Judd discusses important aspects of filmmaking and offers advice on how to tackle each.
  24. Case Studies: Improvisation
    Using some of his favorite scenes as teaching tools, Judd reveals how he uses improvisation to capture hilarious and authentic human interactions between his actors.
  25. The Evolution of a Scene: Knocked Up
    A lot can change between the script and the screen. In this lesson, Judd takes a detailed look at a scene fromKnocked Upand shows how he and his actors brought his words to life. (Bonus: You also get his Seth Rogen impression.)
  26. Editing and Testing Films, Part 1
    Judd shares some words to live by for editing films and illustrates how you can use the testing process to make your projects as strong and funny as possible.
  27. Editing and Testing Films, Part 2
    Judd dives deeper on how to improve your projects through testing and provides some expert tips on how to squeeze extra humor out of your scenes.
  28. Music in Comedy
    A bad score can ruin a movie. Learn some of the common pitfalls of music in comedy and how to avoid them.
  29. Pitching
    Everybody has to pitch, even Judd Apatow. Judd discusses what he is looking for when he is listening to pitches, as well the techniques that he personally uses when trying to sell a new project.
  30. Succeeding in Show Business
    Show business is a competition. In this lesson Judd explains the things that you can do to stand out and excel in this demanding industry.
  31. A Life in Comedy
    Judd provides some words of wisdom and inspiration for those pursuing a life in comedy.
  32. Closing
    Judd ends his class with some parting advice: Take a risk, find the courage to express yourself, and start writing jokes-because he’s not going to write them for you.

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