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FUNNY PEOPLE

Performing In Clubs
While shooting the scenes in which his actors performed stand-up, the director let their acts continue uninterrupted. Apatow explains his rationale: "When you see stand-up in movies, usually all of it's good. Even if the jokes are bad, they are presented like they're good; everything's getting a big laugh, and it feels very cut down. They cut right to the heart of the joke, and you don't get the awkward pauses before and after a joke. What I went for was to capture what a comedy club actually feels like.”

The only way he could do that was to bring in a crowd and have his performers do 25-minute sets. The director continues: "There are sections of the movie in which you see Ira get better; he's more personal and he's evolving. Those jokes needed to be different than earlier ones in the movie. It was the same for Adam during his big concert [at the Orpheum] where he's trying to show Laura he is more mature; the jokes have to reflect he is able to have a serious relationship. I also shot their acts in four or five different comedy clubs. They gave 20 to 30 minutes of material from which we needed two or three minutes.”

Apatow admits what's tricky about stand-up is that the jokes have to be both funny and revealing of the characters' inner lives. He explains: "George takes the difficult parts of his life and turns them into silly jokes. You hear him talk about a dark aspect of his childhood, and then later you see him do a joke that's clearly inspired by it, but he's not telling you the truth. He's made it into something goofier than that.”

The director feels like the relationship between Ira and George is a bit like the one he had with Sandler when they were young comics. He was the young guy who wasn't very good at stand-up, while Sandler was already quite confident in his skills. For his part, Sandler admits: "I used to do standup and, whoever was in the crowd, I could adapt a little bit. I had to be a little gross at all times, but I would phrase it a little more gently if there was an older woman in the audience. I was filthy back then.”

For Rogen, who began doing stand-up at 13, this style of comedy was territory he hadn't visited in a while. "I last did stand-up around eight years ago,” the actor says. "I did it once I moved to L.A., but I was already on a TV show. The only places I could get time were the Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store. I stopped because I started writing screenplays.”

When he signed on for the film, Apatow told Hill that he had to be ready for a stand-up show in three weeks. The performer had never before done stand-up in front of a live audience. Hill's reaction: "I had two or three weeks to write an act. It was at the UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade], and Judd opened for me and I came out. It's the best one I'll ever do in my life. Then I did the next one, and I tanked so hard. I bailed on jokes but then talked about why I didn't want to do them. That got laughs. I had a crash course in five months on how to pass as a comedian.”

Before shooting, Aziz Ansari had been performing as his character, Randy, at the UCB. The actor recalls, "What I had in mind for Randy's standup was much different than my own stand-up. So I decided to do some shows in character as Randy. I George, Clarke and Ira watch Aussie rules football. would tell really terrible sex jokes, dance around, have a deejay to hype me up, etc. It all went over way too well. Unfortunately, I think Randy may be more likeable than Aziz.”

During the shoot, the owner of L.A.'s Improv Comedy Club, Budd Friedman, allowed the production use of his facilities for filming. It was a welcome reunion for one of the owner's former employees. Apatow, who worked as both an emcee and comic at the club when he was 17, was able to get his old boss<

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