I know Judd Apatow. And I know myself. And I am no Judd Apatow. While I am beginning the fourth sentence of a piece about Judd, Judd himself would already have finished it, turned it into a movie script and sold it to a studio as "A story about TIME 100's most influential people, but who is No. 101? Who's the guy who just missed the list, and how is it affecting his life?" and, well, you get the idea.
Judd loves being funny. I can still hear his upbeat voice when he worked on The Larry Sanders Show: "O.K., let's write some jokes!" With a loud supportive clap, a cup of coffee and as much food as he could carry along with the script, the process would begin. I know many people who would stop at the jokes. I think that at 40 Judd wishes sometimes he could. But he can't. He's got to dig down to the voice inside him where the truth is. It's a blessing and a curse that his muse is his own worst critic.
The first time I saw Knocked Up, which he wrote and directed, I thought it was practically a new genre. It wasn't your standard romantic comedynot with that many marijuana jokes and crude Apatow classics. But what could have been just a funny weed movie became one about people you cared about, relationships and growing up.
Judd is on a remarkable zeitgeist roll: he has an uncanny sense of what and who audiences will connect with. He could tell you now who is going to be on the TIME 100 list next year. And best of all, he made the list! So he doesn't have to write the one about the guy who didn't. A break he deserves.
Shandling created, wrote and starred in, among other things, The Larry Sanders Show