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How Judd Apatow Lost His Comedy Crown

Puck shares some of the details. Here's the other reasons for his fall from grace

Comedy all-stars come with expiration dates.

Jim Carrey ruled Hollywood until he embraced his serious side (and Trump Derangement seeped into his canvases). Eddie Murphy could read his fan mail in the 1980s, and it would break box office records.

He later made “Norbit.”

It happens to the best of the best … including Judd Apatow. The triple threat – writer, producer and director – had the Midas touch for a good, long while.

He directed “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “This Is 40.” He produced “Girls,” “Superbad” and “Bridesmaids.” His fingerprints could be seen on almost every high-profile comedy smash.

He helped make stars out of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill and more.

And then his expiration date arrived.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) Official Trailer - Steve Carell, Paul Rudd Comedy HD

His 2020 film “The King of Staten Island” got caught up in the COVID-19 melee. His 2022 Netflix original “The Bubble” generated some of the worst reviews of his career. 

And, according to a devastating new report in Puck, he can’t get several high-profile projects off the ground. Apatow, 56, fired his agent in hopes of rekindling his once white-hot career. 

How bad has it gotten?

Last fall, Kramer shopped an R-rated script that Apatow planned to direct, starring Zach Galifianakis as a comic actor who is quasi-canceled…

More recently, Apatow was at the center of another R-rated package, written by the Lucas brothers (Judas and the Black Messiah), with Superbad helmer Greg Mottola attached to direct and Katt Williams set to star…

Recently, Apatow took out an alluring package with Ben Stiller attached to star, Mike Judge directing, and Brent Forrester (The Office) writing…

He couldn’t find a taker for any of them.


Puck cites several factors, including the big price tags an Apatow project demands. That’s on him, since a comedy film or TV show shouldn’t break the bank unless big egos are in play. Pratfalls don’t require massive CGI budgets.

Plus, the comedy climate has changed, Puck alleges. His dude-bro shtick is no longer acceptable.

(Or do we need it now more than ever?)

The Puck investigation is solid on several fronts and tone deaf on a few others.

Let’s start with Apatow’s Trump Derangement. He’s got it bad, and it may have impacted his creative side. That’s what happened to director Rob Reiner, who keeps making movies no one wants to see.

His anti-Trump barbs are the definition of “clapter.”

“When Trump was first elected, it felt like we were about to be raped,” he said. “But we weren’t sure how bad it would be. And now that it’s a month in, it feels like now we’re just wondering if we’re going to get murdered.” 

Apatow is even a producer on the recent “Stormy” documentary.

If he seems angrier of late, it came out in a big way last year.

Apatow hosted the 2023 DGA awards and threw some nasty jabs at superstar Tom Cruise. It’s normal, and healthy, to mock celebrities during awards season. 

Apatow’s jabs proved meaner than usual. For example:

“The only thing he seems to be afraid of is co-parenting and antidepressants … I doubled my Prozac today just for this. I doubled it! Do you think if Tom Cruise took antidepressants, he’d be like, ‘I’m not jumping out of a f***ing cliff. I’m rich!’”

It doesn’t help that he kicked off his directorial career with one of the funniest films of the last 20 years. “The King of Staten Island” delivered in modest ways. It couldn’t compare to the comic firepower of “Virgin” or “Knocked Up.”

Can Apatow make a comeback? Of course.


He might start by looking outside Hollywood, Inc. Here’s betting The Daily Wire or The Blaze would love to make that anti-woke project with Apatow.

The far-Left auteur would have to swallow hard and work on a much smaller scale, but it could be a match made in heaven. That might seal his fate in Hollywood, but right now he’s struggling on that front anyway.

Or, he could create some hilarious, original shorts for YouTube. Here’s betting he still has a knack for spotting unknown talent and putting them to very good use.

Why not introduce the next Rogen, Rudd or Hill to us via YouTube? He could just reach out to The Babylon Bee’s team for talent.

Hollywood remains in serious turmoil. That explains the greater than usual flood of sequels, remakes and prequels. The box office is down. The streaming red ink is up. 

The industry can no longer roll the dice on a once-mighty talent like Apatow. That’s a shocking statement, but it’s the new normal.

The comic maestro may have to get creative to regain his comic crown.


  1. I’ve never seen anything he’s made & never will. And he has the Harvey Weinstein hair on his face just like Jimmy Kimmel. Probably all from the same pervert club.

  2. I must be one of the few who doesn’t find Apatow’s movies appealing, other than The 40 Year Old Virgin. Whenever I watch one, they tend to be overlong and have to cram in some sort of lesson or meaning. It’s like John Hughes minus the fun, so I have never understood the push behind the guy. For that era of comedy, I prefer Dodgeball or Walk Hard.

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