To say the task of entertaining an audience after not performing stand-up for 25 years is intimidating would be an understatement. It's enough to have one scream with the anguish of a wax-covered Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But Judd Apatow seems almost collected while getting dressed backstage at this year's Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, and pondering whether Beyoncé gets nervous at the top of his new Netflix special, Judd Apatow: The Return (out Tuesday).
After all, it's not like the triple-threat producer-writer-director who penned Knocked Up, and more recently episodes, of Love and Girls, has exactly strayed from the comedy realm. But as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel recently showed us, honing a great stand-up routine takes work.
Apatow throws punchlines at his established foe President Trump, explaining he's "exhausted" by No. 45's presidency.
"I want it to end. Don't you want it to end?" he asks the audience. "That's why we dream of this tape of the pee-pee. It's probably not true, but we wish it was — just a tape of him being pee-peed on. And then he would go away, right?"
But Trump's dismissal, as Apatow sees it, would still be problematic as Mike Pence would then become commander-in-chief. Apatow's solution to sidestep the succession? "We basically need a tape of a Russian hooker peeing like a fire hose of urine on like 35 Republicans till we finally get Bernie Sanders as president," he jokes.
While this tape may be but a dream, the 2005 Access Hollywood tape from in which the president spoke of grabbing women by the genitals is Apatow's nightmare.
"How did he get that behind him? It's so disgusting," Apatow says. "It's so abusive towards women. It's everything that we don't want to project into the world, right?"
"Who talks like this?" Apatow asks of the language Trump wrote off as "locker room" talk. "The President of the United States of America."
Other celebs like a private-email-address-withholding Paul McCartney and Lamar Odom also fall prey to Apatow's comedic lens.
The funnyman shows an image of the Beatle throwing his hands up in silent protest when Apatow asked how to reach him.
Speaking of his irritation with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Apatow relives a fight with his daughter where he served Khloé Kardashian's ex a hard-hitting jab. "(Odom) seems super into family until he went to Vegas and took cocaine and (slept with) hookers until he was in a coma," Apatow says giving his take on Odom's 2015 overdose at a legal Nevada brothel.
Putting himself in the hot seat, Apatow also regales the audience with a tale of throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game and failed attempts at making former President Obama laugh during a photo-op.
"So we get to the front of the line and (Obama) says to me — and this is weird, this is word-for-word," Apatow says recalling the encounter, "he says, 'You know me and Michelle just watched Funny People the other day. We loved it. We love depressing movies."
Well you can't win them all, but if you could, what would we have to joke about?