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India Today - - LEISURE - —Sopan Joshi

So why has Judd Apa­tow taken to stand-up com­edy? “It’s be­cause I wanted to lower my salary and my self-es­teem at the same time,” he opens on his show The Re­turn, which de­buted De­cem­ber 12 on Net­flix.

Re­turn? So, ex­actly when did he quit stand-up and go on to write-pro­ducedi­rect Hol­ly­wood films like An­chor­man and Brides­maids and TV se­ries like Knocked Up? That has to do with do­ing dishes at a com­edy club in New York City when he was 15. The job al­lowed him to see sev­eral co­me­di­ans. He ac­tu­ally got to try his hand at stand-up. “I wanted to be a co­me­dian since I was 10,” he says on the show.

Here’s the sum­mary. A Jew­ish boy from a bro­ken New York fam­ily leaves for Hol­ly­wood and makes it big, but wants to go back to what brought him into en­ter­tain­ment in the first place. Do we take him se­ri­ously? Is this a van­ity pro­ject of a suc­cess­ful writer-pro­ducer? Is that funny?

The early jokes are noth­ing much. Apa­tow labours over the open­ing, look­ing like some­body who is go­ing through his paces. For about 10 min­utes, there’s a touch of a strug­gling NYC Jew­ish co­me­dian. Apa­tow seems a lit­tle too set on start­ing where he left off. But it’s worth get­ting past the bump, be­cause once he estab­lishes the pat­tern, he be­gins to twist it around—al­low­ing him­self to be­come the butt of jokes about the tra­vails of a fam­ily man and fa­ther of two ac­tresses—the younger one 15 years old.

If you have teenage kids, es­pe­cially daugh­ters, you’ll be mut­ter­ing hear! hear! be­tween the laughs. If you are a teenager, you’ll be re­gret­ting not hav­ing Apa­tow-like par­ents.

Ask­ing his daugh­ter to not show skin on In­sta­gram pho­tos re­bounds into him slut-sham­ing her. Then there are the haz­ards of binge-watch­ing on Net­flix, the manda­tory Kar­dashian ref­er­ences, the anx­i­ety of be­ing a par­ent in a me­dia-sat­u­rated world, and of course Don­ald Trump.

The Trump pres­i­dency is a god­send to co­me­di­ans. The twist? Apa­tow went with his wife to the White House dur­ing the Obama pres­i­dency, to get a photo of him mak­ing the pres­i­dent laugh. In­stead, the photo shows Obama mak­ing him and his wife laugh. The best Amer­i­can standup is, of course, re­plete with black and Jew­ish comics. Apa­tow be­longs. Not at the top, but there al­right.

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