This book edited by Apatow sounds interesting: "I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All." It's out now.
In another interview (and on WTF), Apatow talks about his "most personal moment" on Freaks and Geeks. (See clip below.)
When I was a kid I used to go home every day and my friends would play sports. While they would have football practice, I would watch the Dinah Shore show and the Mike Douglas show and the early “Love Connection,” and I would make a grilled-cheese sandwich and chocolate cake, and I would watch TV straight through until Letterman was over at 1:30 in the morning. In high school! And I did that way too often. And that’s my most personal moment on the show. There’s a little bit of that everywhere...All the writers contributed these horror stories from their youth, and we put them into the show. Most of it happened to someone on the show.
FYI, here's a clip of Shandling from around that time:
Apatow names Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Terms of Endearment as two of his fave movies. Here's Ebert's review of Terms of Endearment.
The most remarkable achievement of "Terms of Endearment," which is filled with great achievements, is its ability to find the balance between the funny and the sad, between moments of deep truth and other moments of high ridiculousness. A lesser movie would have had trouble moving between the extremes that are visited by this film, but because "Terms of Endearment" understands its characters and loves them, we never have a moment's doubt: What happens next is supposed to happen. because life's like that.
Funny/sad. Because life's like that. Watched it recently. Def seems like it influenced Apatow's Funny People.
Btw, Birbigs namechecks similar folks here when discussing his influences:
The movies of Woody Allen and James Brooks, and recently Cameron Crowe and Judd Apatow, and the books of David Sedaris and David Foster Wallace and Sarah Vowell and the plays of Kenneth Lonergan. So you get inspired by what you get inspired by. In stand-up, Pryor and Seinfeld.