Filmmaker Apatow trying stand-up comedy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Did you hear the one about the hugely successful Hollywood producer who subjected himself to the uncertainties and meager pay of stand-up comedy?

No punchline follows for Judd Apatow, just the chance to reconnect with a youthful dream of excelling at one of entertainment’s riskiest ventures: Revealing yourself to an audience and praying for laughs, not flop sweat. The result is “Judd Apatow: The Return,” a Netflix special debuting today in which Apatow seeks to prove his chops as a comedian.

“When I was a kid, stand-up was all I wanted to do. Everything else was a weird offshoot of my desire to do stand-up,” he said. A growing demand for his comedy writing services got in the way, along with a frank self-evaluation.

“I thought there were people who seemed much better at it (stand-up) than me, and I didn’t want to be in the middle of the pack,” he said. “I was able to write jokes for Roseanne, for Jim Carrey, and I noticed they performed them better than me.”

Instead, he joined his writing skills with directing and producing, racking up impressive credits on TV (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks and Geeks”) and on the big screen with movies (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up”) that defined the turn-of-the century’s ribald comedy zeitgeist. In middle age, he’s gained the confidence and, of course, the clout to show what he can do onstage.