Review: Judd Apatow, “The Return” on Netflix

Judd Apatow just released his first stand-up special this week at age 50, after only returning to stand-up comedy stages three years ago.

Of course, if you read The Comic’s Comic, then you already know how Apatow hasn’t left the comedy game at all since diving in as a teenager, and it’s just that you’ve heard Apatow’s jokes and thoughts over the past two decades via sitcoms and movies instead of from his mouth on a club or theater stage. So he’s not some newb, or even a celebrity trying to cash in on the comedy boom with yet another comedy special.

As he joked about deciding to film his first hour this summer at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival: “I wanted to lower my salary and my self-esteem at the same time.”

Apatow had a camera crew following him around New York City in the week before his Netflix taping, and I wish we could’ve seen more of that onscreen. I know, right? When’s the last time you read a critic asking for Apatow to make one of his projects longer??? Instead, you’ll have to settle for the bits and pieces that made the cut for his two teaser trailers for Judd Apatow: The Return.

As for the actual hour itself, as I wrote in Decider:

As a father of daughters and a husband of a movie actress (Leslie Mann), it’s not difficult to identify with him as the odd man out in his own home. As he jokes: “I’m the ugly troll in the corner.” He has to watch TV series he hates just to relate to his daughters, much like any parent. The generation gap between parents who never took photos of themselves and children with Instagram profiles full of selfies resonates no matter how rich or famous you are. Truly, no matter. As he says, whether speaking about himself or about the Trumps: “One thing I’ve learned is that money does not make you happy.” Apatow’s amazement that Trump managed to politically survive his Access Hollywood confessions suddenly takes on new relevance, as society has circled back to it since Apatow recorded this special.

Read my full review in Decider.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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