King of comedy not giving up title anytime soon

If Apatow stepped into the role of Hollywood’s king of comedy with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” he’s now firmly entrenched in the part and doesn’t look to be giving up the crown anytime soon.

“Knocked Up,” his directorial follow-up to “Virgin,” was one of summer’s biggest moneymakers, grossing $148 million domestically and again proving Apatow’s Hollywood-antithetical philosophy that geeks and schlumps are indeed blockbuster bait.

Apatow most happily operates in overdrive as this year, and next, attest.

In addition to “Knocked Up,” he produced another triumph of geekdom, “Superbad,” with proteges Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and producer Shauna Robertson.

He also co-wrote with Jake Kasdan the John C. Reilly spoof “Walk Hard,” due out in December, as well as another Rogen collaboration, “Pineapple Express,” out next summer.

Of the current Apatow Express, the multihyphenate says: “I had no time to gather my thoughts and get any perspective about it. I was really busy finishing ‘Walk Hard,’ and spent the whole summer traveling around and promoting the movie. I look forward to a long Christmas vacation to try to figure out what the hell happened.”

Apatow adds that part of the deluge is, ironically, due to the fact that it took so long for studios to come around to believing in his offbeat sense of humor.

Just because he couldn’t get anything made for half a decade didn’t mean he wasn’t prolific.

“During that time, (my colleagues and I) kept rewriting all the scripts we liked. As a result of a few movies doing well, it’s allowed us to make some of these other movies.”

Apatow also admits that multitasking is a conscious act.

“My general theory is that I like to be in the middle of a project when a movie is coming out. That way I have my mind on something, and I don’t get too crazy. When ’40-Year-Old Virgin’ came out, I was in North Carolina working on ‘Talladega Nights.’ I was busy getting ready for ‘Superbad’ when ‘Knocked Up’ came out. I like to be one ahead — that way even if the one coming out doesn’t do well, I know there’s another one.”

So far, there’s been no such need for backup security, but Apatow, who describes himself as “crazy” and “neurotic” — which he attributes to “my Jewish instinct” — isn’t taking chances.

He’s also producing “Step Brothers,” written and directed by Adam McKay, and starring Will Ferrell and Reilly; “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” written by Jason Segel and directed by Nicholas Stoller; and “Drillbit Taylor,” written by Rogen and Kristofor Brown, and starring Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann.

Point of view

“It wasn’t my intent to have so many movies come out this year and next year,” Apatow explains of his recent feature flurry. “It was more the result of being unable to get anything made during the last half-decade.”

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