Judd Apatow’s MasterClass Chapter on Pitching, Discussed

Episode 2:
Judd Apatow’s MasterClass Chapter on Pitching, Discussed


Let's dig into Judd Apatow's MasterClass chapter on "Pitching"

Dec 02, 2021

Mikey Mioduski and Bethany Hart watch Judd Apatow's Masterclass teaching comedy. Well, not even the whole thing. Mainly the chapter on pitching. It's a 13 minute chapter, and we somehow talk about it for like double that. Let us know what you think!

Some of our favorite things to listen for

  • Judd believes "brevity is king"
  • Judd believes you need to sell yourself, so be yourself. Read the room.
  • A no with one investor could be a yes with someone else. Just keep pitching. Just keep pitching.

Listen on:



Full Transcript

Mikey Mioduski 0:23

Hey pitch partner, Mikey Mioduski here, from go GhostRanch Communications and Presentation Thinking. Welcome to episode two, we're pumped, this is gonna be a fun journey. So glad you're along for the adventure in storytelling. We're here to make ourselves better. Better experts, more confident business communicators, and it's gonna be a fun ride. Turns out, there's already a whole lot of stuff out there. So we're gonna dive into that as opposed to trying to pretend that we have better things to say before we've turned over all those stones. So in this series, one of my presentation pals and friend of the show, Bethany Hart is going to join me as we dig into some content and talk about it Study Club style. So Bethany is a good friend of mine. And she's also on this learning path to becoming a better presenter, Bethany has worked in management positions in marketing, product and business operations for over a decade in both B2C and B2B environments. She was a media Fellow at DePauw, as well as a communications major (I think). And after graduating from undergrad, Bethany went on to Angie's List where her roles helped contribute to overall acceleration of that company, from 10 million to 400 million in revenue, building this startup into a national brand along the way. Bethany and I are going to be digging into some really fun content that's out there and one of these first ones that I was pumped to to share with you today is our deep dive into it very funny, very cool, very thoughtful masterclass, from Judd Apatow. He teaches comedy but what piqued our interest was a chapter about pitching. Turns out everybody pitches and we're really curious to see what someone in the entertainment world might be able to provide us as we think about our own presentation. So without further ado, I will let you listen to Bethany and I breaking down Judd Apatow. Joe's chapter on pitching from his masterclass on comedy. Enjoy.

Mikey Mioduski 2:42

Bethany, what's up?

Bethany Hart 2:43

Hey, hey, hey, I do my best Good to be here. Heard you talk to a pretty amazing guest tried to get him on our show on our show.

MIkey Mioduski 2:55

Yes. Have you ever heard of 40 Year Old Virgin?

Bethany Hart 2:57

Ah, I think so. Is that Steve Caroll guy in that?

Mikey Mioduski 3:02

Yeah, he's in that. Oh, what's knocked up? i Yeah. Funny People. This is 40. This guy wrote, directed and produced those movies. New one I haven't seen called King of Staten Island. We are so excited to bring— wait, actually actually Judd Apatow couldn't make it, because of COVID. But Bethany, I think this is actually cooler. Because he did a something called a master class. Do you know what that is?

Bethany Hart 3:36

Yeah. I do.

Mikey Mioduski 3:39

I didn't really know what it was. I've never watched one before. But it turns out we were we were coming up with ideas for for tonight's episode. And Judd Apatow has a masterclass about basically getting into comedy and movies and stuff like that. And he has this chapter on pitching. And we're like, that's pretty interesting, because he's amazing and he's done so much cool stuff. And he seems like a really nice guy. So tonight's episode, we are going to talk about it because it's it's only like a—what is it, 13, 14 minutes— this one chapter about pitching in his masterclass?

Bethany Hart 4:19

I know Yeah. It's kind of neat how this one chapter is part of a much larger collection. But yeah, short short and sweet this chapter on pitching

Mikey Mioduski 4:30

It is, yeah. And the masterclass it's pretty sweet because he tells you know, he gives you the rundown if you're looking to get into to film and TV, I'd say it's like essential or comedy because part of his come up was in stand up. And then he got into writing and then acting or directing and producing so so anyway, let's get into this chapter on pitching. Bethany. You gave it a watch we both watched in here in the last few days. We'd love to break down some of our key takeaways because a lot of the stuff he talks about doesn't it just go to show that everybody pitches? You know, it's like, a lot? Sure. It's, it's not going to directly relate. But it actually might. So what does what is pitching TV pitching comedy have to do with the things that we're trying to sell and the ideas that we need to, to get out into the world? So, yeah, why don't we break it down? What were some of your takeaways?

Bethany Hart 5:20

Yeah, well, one theme I thought was, was interesting, which you just touched on of how everybody pitches because, you know, you mentioned Judd Apatow is interesting in that he's a writer and creator, but he really is a performer as well. And so you can just tell he has this presence and comfort when he's speaking, right. But you think of many people who get into the field, they are probably not the ones who are really excited about going to pitch right, the writers have to go pitch their ideas. So I thought that was an interesting angle.

Mikey Mioduski 5:55

Bethany, I agree. I remember that part, too. He talked about, you're also selling yourself so. So in anything that we're that we're pitching or presenting, whether it's like a business partnership, or in his case, you know, when you're selling a movie, or some like TV show, or something like that. You're these people that you're pitching to, they're he's like, yeah, they're looking at your idea. But they're also looking at us. And can we work with this person for the next one, two years, three years? What, you know, how long like, is this person? Cool? Are they are they going to be fun to hang out with? Because we're going to spend a lot of time together. So he talks about, bring your personality to the moment, you know, if you're selling a comedy, do you want to sound all intellectual and really lofty? And? No, he's like, no, like, it's 40 Year Old Virgin, you know, he's like, put it out there. You know, part of what you're selling is yourself. And I think a lot of us can relate to that, right? Oh,

Bethany Hart 6:55

Absolutely. I thought that was such a good, you know, I'm a process person. So I thought that was a good way to think about it as you prepare and handle going into making your pitch and just a good perspective or Outlook to keep keep it in check. And actually, that was one of my probably favorite quotes from the whole thing as part of the pitch is selling yourself like you are bringing your whole self to that moment. And another thing he touched on in that same section was the confidence, right? So showing, and that comes back to showing who you really are having fun to interact with, with others.

Mikey Mioduski 7:36

And so the the, probably the favorite quote of mine during the whole one was on another topic. When he said the worst pitches are the long ones in you know, like now that he's in this producer role. He's kind of seen it all. He's He's pitched he's been pitched, right. But he has a whole little sub chapter called brevity is king. And his point is, if you can't do it, in 90 seconds or less, you you might have some problems, maybe just with with your premise or something about it. And he obviously he's now coming at it with like, oh my gosh, if I if I get pinned into this, like 3060 minute meeting, he's like, I want to dig myself out of that. You know, he wants he wants to hear what it is, if he can't get it right away. To him. That's probably a sign that it's it might have some, some holes in it, right?

Bethany Hart 8:32

Oh, yes, I think so. I liked that section, too. And he did this a lot throughout his talk, which I really enjoyed was he would make a joke about what is the worst, like, what's the opposite of the point he was trying to make. And so what I liked about that section was, he said, The worst is when someone is giving you the entire play by play. You know, just just get to the point. And I'd like to what you're saying is, he's basically like, tell me what the movie is about. And if you think you can apply that to so many things, right? Just tell me what the movie is about. And if you can't do that quickly, then you lost them. They didn't take they didn't absorb what you were trying to tell them anyway.

Mikey Mioduski 9:17

Oh, completely in. Okay. How many times have I know, because you've prepared like presentations for other people to give. But, you know, in the tech space, for instance, how many times did this product management I want to load up and and have people talk about every single feature? Right. And, and in a lot of technical detail. And I think so the the role of like a product marketer, or really good sales person who's good at messaging is to distill it down, not about the features and every single one of them, but All right, what's the benefit and and what does that mean to the end user? Right? And so, he's like, just pitch three or four scenes, right? You don't have to do you don't have to do like you said, Bethany, the play by play. And yeah, like, okay, big picture. Here's the premise. And now here's like, here's a couple scenes on why this is going to be funny. So that's kind of like your support, like, you've thought through it. But there's this other thing in sales that I've heard is like, as soon as you get a yes, like, just shut the EFF up, cuz people can talk themselves back into a no. So as soon as you get some head nods, then it's like Time to wrap it up. Because you've, you've done what you need to do on this sort of like your first call, if you will.

Bethany Hart 10:35

Yeah, that's good. Yeah, it's so true. It's that whole, gosh, give the headline, and it comes back to this theme of the elevator pitch, like, just keep it short, sweet, get the main points. There's time and another, you know, as you go in further into your presentation to get more of the details, or just stop if you got those head nods. Assuming you can see them. It's not just a girl.

Mikey Mioduski 11:01

Yeah, okay, we're gonna take a small chronic break to tell you about our sponsor, ghost ranch communications, a presentation design agency. And it's my company. We work with executives, business leaders, a lot of product marketers, and we elevate their presentations. So if you got a pitch that matters, and small hint, every pitch matters, then sometimes it really helps to get an extra set of eyes, maybe an actual presentation designer, helping you take it to that next level. So hit us up anytime ghost ranch communications.com. Back to the program. All right. Well, what was one more was another topic that you you picked up on?

Bethany Hart 11:46

Okay, so one of the other points that I think really did really closely with the brevity is key point was pitch with the marketability in mind. And I thought this related to brevity and that, not only does it need to be short, and to the point, you need to make it interesting. Consider your audience. One of his quotes that I wrote down was, you know, pitch with the main hooks that basically day or the audience thinks they're going to need to sell it. So in his case, right? What are what's the team and actually be able to put on a poster about to promote the movie? Or what's the material or material that they're actually going to put in the trailer? How are they going to be attracted to that idea?

Mikey Mioduski 12:35

Oh, yeah, then, I don't know, like, every time you're watching Shark Tank, or assuming anybody here watching Shark Tank, but you can just watch the sharks faces. And like, I just see Mark Cuban's head spinning, you know, like, I know what he's thinking, I know what the others are thinking, they're like, can I make money off of this, right? And they don't like Sure. They love an emotional story. That's great. They love where you came from, they want to like that stuff. There's some fluffy stuff that is nice. They can hook you in. But these people at the end of the day have a job to do, right. So the whole time you're pitching or Judd is pitching. They are he says, think about what they're thinking, Can I get people to see this, if they just had 32nd commercial, or if you just walked by a poster. And you sure, like if someone painted the picture during their pitch that about this wild crazy British swinger from this who got frozen, he's in the 70s. And it's Mike Myers. And he's, you know, he's punchy, you could probably see how that poster would attract people. Right? And, and any, anyone who's potentially going to produce that, that that would probably click for them. So you want to give them ammunition? Right? Because they're gonna what are they gonna have to I don't know, if they have to go shop it internally then. So whatever kind of ammo you can give them. Give them the best stuff. This is why this movie will sell or this is why this idea will carry us forward. I there's this, you know, there's like lists of things you need to read into but talking to more founders lately, I keep hearing of this phrase job to be done, or jobs to be done. Bethany, Have you have you heard of this in like the marketing business jargon world lately?

Bethany Hart 14:23

I have not heard that one lately.

Mikey Mioduski 14:26

I think it's a book in maybe it is more like 510 years old, but essentially, it's it's that concept of do you push your features? Or do you push what the features will do for you, in your in what you're trying to do? And that's, that's what motivates people to make their you know, consumer decisions and that kind of stuff. So, again, it in presentations, like every single day, we we see this way, it's what matters the most is just empathy and thinking about your audience. And and that's that was my favorite takeaway from, from what Judd had to say about pitching as well.

Bethany Hart 15:10

Yeah, he had some good nuggets in there. Again, he's always like, shortened to the point and everything he says packs a punch. So if you can really, if you can listen to this one or listen to him, I think that was fun, too, because I thought a lot of the points he made, you could just tell on his delivery throughout this course.

Mikey Mioduski 15:28

He seems like a nice, dude. I can't tell if the rims of his eyes are a little red to that. He's done a lot of stoner comedy movies. But oh, I did. I watched a little bit more of the masterclass. And I actually want to watch the entire thing because I think he tells such good stories. And as we know, stories are or what, what people remember. But he has one, one chapter upfront called Judds journey. And I totally recommend you watch this, but it kind of blew my mind. Like, you know, he didn't come from, like, his parents weren't directors and writers, which I think is cool. His mom and dad got separated. His mom got a waiting job at a comedy club. And partly because he says she, she had the choice to, he was in between grades. And so instead of holding him back, she sent him ahead. And so he was always really young, for his age. And for that reason, he like, sucked at sports and sports were everything in that generation. And so he felt like this outsider, and he could become obsessed with comedy. And so he thinks, looking back, she kind of got this job at the Comedy Club. to, for him, like is this gift and so his buddies were getting into like radio with their school station, and he's like, I want to do this thing called, like, Comedy Hour or something. And so he had an excuse, this this radio show for high school to go interview comedians. And he essentially became a student of, of comedy. And he just had access somehow, but like, not just like, D listers. He talked to like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno and crazy, crazy like caliber comedians. And they would talk about process with him and how to write jokes. And he became obsessed and, and later, I think one of the last chapters in this masterclass, he talks about, like, hey, become a student, like, study the greats, if you really like a certain director, writer, study them. And, you know, I think that is something that we can all do. Let's say you want to be a really good public speaker. Gosh, think how much how many TED talks are out there that you can, can watch and, and take notes on. And in so many other realms as well. If you want to get really good at raising money for your startup, watch Shark Tank, you're going to see stuff you don't like, and you're going to glean other stuff that you do like, and he says you just need to analyze it and in kind of his point about that chapter is to hang around the people that inspire you. And I think that is so relatable to a lot of us as well. And one of my favorite little stories from the whole masterclass

Bethany Hart 18:15

That is a great story. I did not know that about his background.

Mikey Mioduski 18:17

He's He's texting me right now. Yeah. He said, Yeah, sweet Beth, he said, "say hi." It's pretty cool. I'm obsessed with his wife to Leslie, man. Do you know her?

Bethany Hart 18:28

Yes. And she was in Knocked Up. And she's just hilarious.

Mikey Mioduski 18:31

She's so funny. She kills me.

Bethany Hart 18:34

I don't remember what his role was in this movie. But he did reference this as one of his examples in the pitch, specifically the pitching chapter that I that we listened to was Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I love that movie. It's hilarious. And I thought this was one point we hadn't talked about yet. Or we touched on it, but pitching the emotional side of your story. So I guess Jason Segel pitched Judd to do that movie, because that was part of his personal story, like he was trying to get over a bad breakup.

Mikey Mioduski 19:11

Totally. Yeah, he made it just kind of relatable. And I think and then therefore, maybe a little honest, like a whole load of transparency. It seems from, from Jason Segel that seems like it's his style. And yeah, so just kind of like knew it would just maybe organically come together because it was so I don't know, from from the heart. So for Segel, you know like, in selling yourself, that's kind of who he is. Right? And so I think it sounds like, bringing the emotion into it helped help sell that, that pitch.

Bethany Hart 19:45

It was fun to hear Judd talk about different angles of pitching in this because he had some examples like that, where someone was pitching an idea to him. He also had examples where he was pitching to others and then there was another story in there, he was telling you about how he had to pitch with someone else and how he had to help them because it was just like not going. And some opportunities where he coached others that he was pitching alongside of. I think that one, do you remember that example Mikey, I'm, I'm looking back, I think it related, I'm going to tie this back to the beginning but but selling yourself. And I really related to this, because this is a trap I tend to fall into is you get so wrapped up in kind of all the details and process that you're getting into presenting a product or an idea or project plan. And you get too intellectual or philosophical or into the weeds of the details of the features that you you studied and you know all about and you've been part of creating, that you kind of forget to show your personality and lead with the main points and the story here get caught up in all that in the weeds.

Mikey Mioduski 20:57

100% And, and I know, so his buddy just sucked at pitching because he became someone else. And even though he's a comedian, and it got all formal. He's like, "What are you doing, man?" But I think one of the the other big lessons there that he touches on is you just kind of keep doing it. Nobody. Okay, some people and these are the jerks out there who are just naturally born, you know, like with the gift of gab and charismatic and just brilliant, you know, at working a room. Most of us though, don't have that gift and we have to practice, and I think Judds probably what I took away, maybe I don't know, if he directly said it was like, you just got to keep doing it. He's had shows get rejected by Netflix, but get picked up by some other house and vice versa. Some people are gonna gel with you and just quickly get your idea. Others just won't and and maybe that's not a knock. Maybe if too many people say no, you know, maybe you have work to do. But if you if you really start to get down on yourself and just stop after one or two faulty pitches, you're never gonna get better at it.

Bethany Hart 22:08

I agree. I really love that message about testing out your pitches by practicing them on others and, and that was another time where he, when he gave a lesson, he was like, Well, what is the worst case scenario? Well, that's a nightmare if you know you're pretending to be something else and selling something else. Just because you think that's what they want to buy and then people buy from you, but they never actually got what you were selling.

Mikey Mioduski 22:34

Exactly. Well, I I think we've pretty much spam product 20 minutes talking about a 13 minute you know, scene, so if anybody wants to learn from Judd himself, you know, tell him we sent you and watch the MasterClass it's really good. Seems like MasterClass is cool. You know, there's all these different different options out there for self learning and tons you can learn for free on YouTube, but I think they had a holiday promotion where it's like, buy one get one free. I'm sure you can do month to month but Holy smokes. I think there's also Aaron Sorkin has a class there was one more Oh, Bill Voss... is it Chris Voss? The the dude who wrote that book about negotiating in sales. I think there's a little more fodder for us that we're gonna have to explore for the show.

Bethany Hart 23:24

I totally agree from many different industries or angles, right from writers. There are some scientists on there that also have to sell their ideas and convey their ideas. I mean, there yeah, there's a lot of good material there for sure.

Mikey Mioduski 23:39

Yeah, like Nat... Again, Natalie Portman. I'm sure she'd love to be on the show. But if we can all just if she can save us a couple hours, we could just watch her class. Right? Bethany? I gotta ask. Have you ever seen Freaks and Geeks?

Bethany Hart 23:50

I love Freak and Geeks, that show's wonderful.

Mikey Mioduski 23:54

Was that only one season?

Bethany Hart 23:56

Busy?! Phillips?! I mean, you just look back at James Franco. Like there are so many folks in there who went on to have these like crazy careers. But that's such a fun show.

Mikey Mioduski 24:05

I don't know how you pulled out Busy Phillips. I feel like she's the one who didn't go on to do much. But—

Bethany Hart 24:10

What she's like instagram GOLD!

Mikey Mioduski 24:12

I didn't know that.

Bethany Hart 24:15

Oh, yeah. Careers in different ways.

Mikey Mioduski 24:20

Yeah. But holy cow man what a special what a special show. If you've never seen that you'll get all the feels in there like the music the casting is just world class and everybody from that show went on to do amazing things and Judd produced it right.

Bethany Hart 24:38

I can Yeah, right. He did. I forgot that. Yeah, it's such like a cap... like a time capsule of that era to just fun.

Mikey Mioduski 24:46

Awesome. Well, let's tie this one up. Bethany. What do you say?

Bethany Hart 24:49

All right. It's been fun. Keep on pitching.

Mikey Mioduski 24:53

Keep on pitching indeed. Alrighty, Mikey here from Ghost ranch.com where a presentation design agency. I hope you enjoyed this fun, little diversion. It's funny to think you know, how many different people from different industries all have some of the similar ideas on how we can become more audience-centric, better presenters. And I certainly loved diving into yeah, Judd's material here. What a talented mofo. Again, we're excited about this journey at presentation thinking the podcast so yeah, tell your friends submit any questions our way. You can do that by emailing me Mikey at GhostRanch dot com. And until then, PITCH ON! We'll see you next time. Thank you.

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Judd Apatow’s MasterClass Chapter on Pitching, Discussed