Last night Judd Apatow sat down with Mike Nichols to “ask for for advice,” writes HE’s Manhattan correspondent Clayton Loulan. “That was how the Museum of Modern Art billed their conversation, at least, which was a promotion for This Is 40 under the aegis of MOMA’s “The Contenders” series. The room was full and the age of the crowd covered the spectrum. Here’s the mp3.

This Is 40 director-writer Judd Apatow, legendary helmer Mike Nichols on stage last night at the Museum of Modern Art — Monday, 11.12, 8:35 pm.

Apatow started off the evening by showing the first nine minutes of This Is 40 and then the discussion began. Topics ranged from Nichols discovering Dustin Hoffman for The Graduate to Greta Garbo inventing movie acting in George Cukor‘s Camille to HE’s discussion favorite, Lincoln. Nichols said he doesn’t believe that you can compare all of Spielberg’s films” — whatever that means — “but if you could, Lincoln would be his best. ” Wells insert: Nope.

“Apatow offered up witty remarks to a clip from Nichols’ Carnal Knowledge (“It’s funny to see that Jack Nicholson was ever at an age where he was excited about a hand job.”) and seemed genuinely awestruck after watching the ‘Sounds Of Silence’ montage from The Graduate (“You made that…no one else can say that.”)

“The conversation came to a close so that Judd could make it to another screening of 40, but Nichols stayed on stage a few extra minutes, accepting compliments and offering up more advice for those ready to listen.

“Nichols and Elaine May will be interviewed in the upcoming (early December) comedy issue of Vanity Fair, which is being guest-edited by Apatow.

Again, the mp3. “The mikes for the event were set ridiculously low, so turn those speakers up,” Loulan writes. “Apatow mentioned that we were the quietest audience he’d ever heard. There was a reason for that.”