Judd Apatow has absorbed comedy his whole life. His new book Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy finally lets it all pour back out, featuring three decades of his interviews with comedians. There’s good stories about everyone from Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer to Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert. But there’s an intriguing one about Louis C.K. telling Lorne Michaels, “Fuck you.”
Last year, Louis CK hosted SNL for the second time. The comedian had a 12-minute monologue he was hyped on, but SNL mastermind Michaels thought only 7 minutes of it was worth air time. The writer, director, and star of Louie recounted the story to Apatow.
“[Lorne Michaels] says ‘So, you did twelve minutes in the monologue. How much do you want to do on-air?’ I said ‘I want to do all twelve,’ and he goes, ‘You’re not doing twelve.’ He goes, ‘It was good but there was a lot of air in it, a lot of stopping and starting. I know there are cuts in there.’ My face turned red. I was angry. I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know. I thought it was pretty good. And fuck you.’ I was really mad. Later, this woman comes in and says, ‘Uh, we’re one minute under.’ And so I go, ‘Then I’m doing twelve.’ And Lorne turns to me and goes ‘Calm down.’ I was really insulted. He said ‘I’ll give you seven and nobody’s ever done seven.’ And I said, ‘What if it goes long? What if I go over and end up doing ten or more?’ And he goes, ‘Then we’ll know that you’re very undisciplined and unprofessional.’ And everybody laughed.”
Afterward, C.K. watched the dress rehearsal taping and realized that he agreed with Michaels, saying, “He knows exactly what he’s doing.” The host then got SNL cast member Michael Che to help him trim it down into the spotless monologue it became, just shy of 9 minutes.