Producer-director Judd Apatow shared his thoughts on the dilemma of performing topical stand-up routines in the era of President Donald Trump and defended Kathy Griffin’s infamous “beheading” photoshoot in a New York City radio interview this week.
In a wide-ranging interview with WNYC’s Leonard Lopate on Wednesday, the Hollywood comedy guru explained how it’s hard not to crack jokes in front of his audiences about the headlines of the day.
“I like to talk about it because I’m thinking about it so much; it’s very hard not to go on stage and go ‘can you believe that Donald Trump Jr. email?'” Apatow said.
“You literally can say ‘He is just not very good at his job.’ You don’t even have to have a joke about it,” the Girls co-creator explained before talking about Trump’s exhausting presidency. “But I feel like we’re all very nervous, like we don’t feel like we’re in good hands. And we’re exhausted from all of the lying and corruption and it’s like we’re all being — there’s a lot of gaslighting happening and I think it’s good to acknowledge that we all are sane.”
Asked about Griffin’s now-infamous photo — in which she holds up the bloody, decapitated head of Trump — and if there are any jokes that should be off limits, Apatow defended Grifffin and said making bad jokes are “the nature of our job.”
“I think that we’re supposed to make mistakes as comedians and comediennes and that’s what we do. We take swings and sometimes we strike out and sometimes we do things that cross the line and that’s the nature of our job,” Apatow said, adding “And I think it’s appropriate that people apologize when something is too extreme. But I don’t think it means they shouldn’t work.
“What’s important is that she continues to be a strong voice because she’s a very intelligent hilarious woman. And a lot of comedians makes jokes. Every night at the Comedy Cellar someone makes a joke that they would get in trouble for because it is a lab and everyone is just trying to process what’s happening.”
Apatow believes that “ultimately jokes aren’t important,” adding that “what is important is 22 million people losing their health insurance. I mean who cares about a joke or a bad photograph? What really matters is if you have cancer, are you not going to be able to get it covered. And that’s at the root of this fear.”
Apatow added that President Trump’s relentless criticism of myriad media outlets and his various battles with political pundits on Twitter has soured the social media platform, which used to be a much more “happy” place.
“I think Twitter has gotten worse as a result of Trump and politics,” the Trainwreck director said. “Before all of this, a lot of Twitter was happy. And people were just sharing pictures of their dogs and making silly jokes and talking about a meal of an “X-Files” episode they enjoyed. And now it’s become a home for all of our concerns, on both sides. And I think it’s a little bit of a drag.”
Not one to hold back his opinion of the president, the man who launched Lena Dunham’s career said in February that before Trump won the election he felt like “a person about to get raped, but I didn’t know how bad it would be.” Now that Trump is president, “I feel like I’ve just been raped and I just don’t know if I’m going to get murdered,” Apatow said.
Listen to Apatow’s full WNYC interview here.
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