Judd Apatow | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Just For Laughs, Montreal

Judd Apatow

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Just For Laughs, Montreal

It has to say something about the addictive pull of stand-up that even a hugely wealthy Hollywood producer like Judd Apatow finds himself drawn back to the mic. 

Maybe the $90million mogul feels he has something to prove that backing hits such as Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Trainwreck isn't fulfilling. Certainly, he says that recording a special has been a childhood dream – and now, after a couple of years back in the clubs where he started his career, that dream has come true, courtesy of Netflix and the show recorded at Just For Laughs in Montreal yesterday.

The result? A reasonable effort, but not a great one. ‘Judd Apatow’ is unlikely to be anyone’s answer to ‘Who's your favourite comedian?’ But Adam Sandler’s former room-mate will have proved himself to his peers, and possibly himself.

Strong routines sit next to more workmanlike ones, while others feel like talkshow anecdotes with ideas above their station. The time Kayne West complained about the jacket he was asked to wear on Anchorman 2, for example.

There’s more to his similarly name-droppy story about meeting Robert De Niro, while at least in encounters with Paul McCartney, Barack Obama and the New York Mets, he plays on his social awkwardness to make himself seem a little more relatable – he’s still the weird kid who no one picked for sports at heart –  even if his modern-day faux pas don’t really seem that bad.

Stories of his domestic life score higher, from a gloriously graphic scatological tale that would have been deemed ‘too much’ for any gross-out comedy movie, to his ineffectual attempts to assert his authority over his teenage daughters, the easily triggered snowflakes, one of whom provides no support when he needs it in his time of need.

As a ‘liberal Hollywood asshole’ himself, he has something to say about Trump’s ‘grab ‘em by the pussy’ boast, and even if you think that’s an overdone subject, Apatow believes we should be reminded of his sex-assault advocacy every single day. Fair point.

And Apatow can sometimes find new gold in well-panned streams, even the difference between the male and female orgasm. 

He also offers the first sighting in years of material about Viagra, but even if the premise is pedestrian, there are enjoyably graphic turns of phrase in the description. No wonder he got his toehold in Hollywood as a writer. Ditto for his description of how Instagram would have worked in an analogue age, a familiar set-up which avoids the Route 1 execution.

Yet there’s not quite the momentum nor the consistency to make this show stand out. Apatow probably recorded half an hour or so more than needed for the special – and good job, too, since there’s fat to be cut. The finished product should be tighter… that’s both a prediction and a  suggestion.

But it feels, on a personal level, as if he has addressed the unfinished business of the stand-up career he put on hold to make his fortune.

Review date: 29 Jul 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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