Last month, “This is 40” director Judd Apatow and legendary filmmaker Mike Nichols (“The Graduate,” “Primary Colors”) sat down for a discussion at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York cheekily titled “Judd Apatow asks Mike Nichols for Advice.”
It was a sober and thoughtful chat about varying philosophies on this and that. Apatow is a huge fan of Nichols and looks up to him as a mentor. He spoke early in the talk about how he and friend Owen Wilson first set out to write a script once upon a time by studying the structure and characters of “The Graduate,” but the conversation soon led to comedy, naturally, and I thought Nichols had some particularly profound things to offer.
“It’s very, very corrupting to the spirit, doing comedy,” he said. “And you have to be almost a saint, like Jack Benny was, like Steve Martin is, to avoid the corrupting of it, because there’s very little work where the actual work and the reward are simultaneous, and comedy is that. You can see it doing terrible things to people because it’s constant instant gratification, and there are people who can resist it. Chris Rock, people of a certain character and high intelligence, know how to avoid it.”
There’s a lot more, including plenty of praise from Nichols about Apatow’s brand and “trademark,” which leads to more enlightening this and that. Universal has provided us with exclusive video of the event, which took place on November 12. Check it out at the top of this post.
“This is 40” opens everywhere December 21.