“Is the Trump thing scaring you?” asked the director of such hits as “Trainwreck” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” before continuing on. “He’s kind of like the psycho girl on ‘The Bachelor’ that you don’t want to get kicked out too soon, because she might have sex with somebody in the ocean,” Apatow said. “But it’s time he doesn’t get the rose.” The sentiment was met with roars of laughter at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.
The Apatow comedy show came after the world premiere of the latest project he’s produced: “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” the Netflix original movie that arrives on the streaming service on March 18, just hours after its SXSW screening.
After the movie’s credits rolled, Apatow took the stage armed with biting political material. He revealed that he contributed to Obama’s 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech that included a series of one-liners about Trump. “The president humiliated him, and I wrote those jokes,” Apatow said. “I was very proud of it. And I found out later that the night he did those jokes, he also killed (Osama) bin Laden.” Apatow took a moment to reflect on what that meant: “I kind of felt like I killed bin Laden,” he said. “What if my jokes bombed? He might have said, ‘I’m not feeling it tonight.’”
Apatow also didn’t shy away from going after Bill Cosby, who has faced rape allegations from more than 50 women. “Can you believe that Bill Cosby is still out there?” he asked, before launching into a caustic impersonation. In Apatow’s retelling, Cosby informs his wife that he’d hid the newspaper from her, so that she wouldn’t know about the allegations. “I forgot the paper was on the Internet,” Apatow said as Cosby.
Not all of his jokes were ripped from the headlines. Apatow also offered gags about his daughters, marriage, sex and his reputation for telling stories where doughy-looking guys always land the hot girl. “Seth Rogen used to get mad when people said he couldn’t get Katherine Heigl,” he said about “Knocked Up.”
Apatow confessed that he’d missed the life of a stand-up comedian, which he took a break from for 22 years after his directing career took off. He said that he preferred the stage to working with sweaty editors. “I’d like to get rid of this whole movie part,” he said.
But he might not want to retire from his day job just yet. “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” was met with spontaneous eruptions of laughter and applause, including a standing ovation for director Paul Lee and Paul Reubens, who plays the bow-tie wearing character. Reubens, who previously headlined the 1985 Tim Burton film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” said that he and Apatow had trouble initially getting the sequel off the ground.
“I felt like the biggest challenge we faced was nobody wanted to make it,” Reubens said. “The project languished and then we had a meeting at Netflix,” Reubens said, adding that Apatow’s involvement convinced Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, to back the film.
“And they really allowed us to make a big Pee-wee Herman movie,” explained Apatow. “They gave us enough money to get a flying car.”