BY ALEX RUSSELL
Anyone can read a Wikipedia page. Every Wednesday in “In Case You Missed It” I hope to put in context something in the world of comedy for non comedy-nerds. This week we look at Marc Maron, one of the biggest names in podcasting and stand up who may be reaching an even bigger audience in the coming months.
You probably are familiar with…
His podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. What started as Maron recording by staying behind in the Air America office he used to work in has become one of the most important cultural touchstones of the modern comedy world. If you look through his past guest list, you will absolutely see one of your top five all time figures in the entertainment, comedy, or music world. From Dave Attell to Ben Stiller to Sarah Silverman to Ira Glass to Louis CK to Conan O’Brien to Jon Hamm to Jack White to Gina Gershon to you get the idea, everyone worth knowing has been on WTF. Even if you think you know someone, you absolutely don’t until they get in Marc Maron’s garage. He made Louis CK cry, made Carlos Mencia drop his self-assured guard, and recently showed that Mel Brooks is still as sharp and as awesome as he ever was. It shouldn’t still be news to you that WTF is required listening, but if it is, you’re absolutely welcome in advance.
You might also know…
His episode of Louie, “Ikea/Piano Lesson” from the middle of last year. Louie is full of people playing very loose versions of themselves, but Maron and Louis have a real history of conflict between them. Maron’s got more than a decade of sobriety, but as a former very serious coke user (among other addictions) his podcast often leads to him offering explanations to and seeking forgiveness from people in his past. Louis and Maron have worked out their troubles on Louis’ two-parter WTF episode, but the alternatively funny and sad nature of working through things with an old friend shines best in visual format.
He’s been on different versions of Conan O’Brien’s shows more than any other comedian. He probably owes more of his original success to that than anything else. He recently forced Conan into a rather lengthy discussion of auto-erotic asphyxiation. The fact that he did it is hilarious, and the fact that Conan just rode it out is even better:
Maron was a frequent figure on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist in the late 90s. It was a great show, and I’ll use any excuse to reference it. You might also know him from Twitter, where @marcmaron frequently does a bad job with his “No Troll Engagement Policy” and kinda loses it on the worst people on social media. He also eggs on his fellow comics, which is fun in a different kind of way.
You should go check out…
His stand up. He’s gotten famous through the podcast, and it’s probably baffling to list his stand up in this section but I feel I have to. People seem to know him from elsewhere now, but his best work is ahead of him. His most recent album This Has to Be Funny is nearly a perfect stand up album. He’s been funny forever, though – here, let him tell you a joke in a minute and a half:
Since he’s becoming a giant in the field he’s been doing work in for decades, now he appears in some great things in other fields. He plays the main… character?… in the music video for the legendary Nick Lowe’s “Sensitive Man,” which also features Tim Heidecker Tim Heideckering around:
WTF, for real. The last 50 are always available for free through iTunes. The first 100 are available on DVD. However you digest it, you absolutely cannot find a better way in to the real people you like.
Why does this matter?
His new show Maron debuts on IFC on May 3. It’s basically a fictionalized version of his life. It originally had Ed Asner. Now it has Adam Scott (in a different role). What more could you need to know?
His book Attempting Normal is coming out shortly. Amazon calls it “Marc Maron’s journey through the wilderness of his own mind, a collection of explosively, painfully, addictively funny stories that add up to a moving tale of hope and hopelessness, of failing, flailing, and finding a way.” It’ll probably be good, and you can get it for less than fifteen bucks right now for pre-order.
He’s the host and main draw of the only podcast you need to know, period. No matter what you do and what you like, if you’re avoiding WTF completely, you’re missing something you need. There’s a lot of things out there to fill a lot of hours, but pick an episode and jump in.
If nothing else, see him live. Maron’s sets are like comedy church now, with him performing for a mix of fans, comedy nerds, and people who just know they are supposed to be there to see a phenomenal show. All of them will get what they want – he’s in Chicago again for six shows at the Mayne Stage in August.