Sick in the Head

Tools of Titans (of Comedy)

I started reading Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow when Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss came out. For a few days, I switched back and forth between them. A couple times, I’d forget which one I was reading because they’re both books of interviews. The comedians Apatow interviews are top performers, much like Ferriss’s guests.

There were some connections in what they do day to day. For my Tools of Titans notes, I wrote about something Ferriss does that relates to something Jerry Seinfeld does—I promise it’s not about writing an X on a calendar.

Writing notes for Sick in the Head gives me a chance to write about another connection between people in the two books. This one connects Jocko Willink and Michael Che

Jocko Willink has a chapter in Tools of Titans explaining why his response is “Good.” His response to what? Everything. It forces you to find the silver lining in things. Well, maybe the kevlar lining:

“Now. I don’t mean to say something clichéd. I’m not trying to sound like Mr. Smiley Positive Guy. That guy ignores the hard truth. That guy thinks a positive attitude will solve problems. It won’t. But neither will dwelling on the problem. No. Accept reality, but focus on the solution.”

There’s always a lesson in challenges.

Apatow interviews Michael Che in Sick in the Head. Che talks about his first night at the Comedy Cellar:

“So you know, Chappelle’s onstage. He’s killing for like forty-five minutes. Uncharacteristically gets offstage after like forty or forty-five minutes; everyone assumed he was going to be up there all night. So the next comedian to get onstage is Chris Rock. He gets onstage, and does like forty minutes. And the next comedian that gets onstage is me. I’m like, Fuck you.”

Do you remember this dunk? (YouTube link)

Maybe, and only as a reference to performing after someone else did something amazing. It was immediately  after Vince Carter’s 360 windmill in the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest—a legendary dunk1. Jerry Stackhouse’s 360 was fine but the crowd responded like he did a layup.

Che explains how he felt performing right after two legends:

“But you know what? It was good. And you know why? Because that crowd had seen ninety minutes of the best comedians in the world. I could not ruin their night. There was nothing I could say that was ever going to wipe that smile off those faces, man.”


  1. It’s the best in dunk contest history. If you can name a handful off the top of your head that were better, I’m either on your lawn or you need to get off mine. Whenever Kenny says the dunk contest is back he’s thinking about Vince Carter tearing down Oracle.