Saturday, July 14, 2012

Marc Maron Is Finally Cool

As a former employee of the defunct Air America -- may it rest in peace -- I can say that Marc Maron was never my favorite host. He wasn't really a comedian, I thought at the time. He was more of, well, a very self-involved guy who talked about his therapy. That is not interesting to anyone other than oneself. But over the years since Air America spectacularly flamed out Maron has reinvented himself as part Rabbi and part therapist for fellow comedians as host of WTF. It is pretty spectacular. He has truly found his voice, as this NYMag article suggests:
"'All my career was driven by spite,' Marc Maron confessed, not for the first time, a couple of weeks ago on WTF, his wildly popular (and mesmerizingly intimate) podcast talk show. 'Why the fuck was that guy [successful]? How come I’m not?'

"Among the many signs that Maron is, improbably, at age 48, finally as likely to be the object of such spite as its incubator is the decidedly non-shitty hotel room I’m meeting him in on the second night of a weekend headlining gig at New Jersey’s Stress Factory Comedy Club. It’s not good, the hotel room, just non-shitty. This is comedy, after all.
'I haven’t done solo [gigs] in a long time. I have ghosts. I was nervous last night,' he says of his two shows the night before we met. 'I haven’t been to this club in ten years. I was like, ‘These people aren’t going to like me.’

"...That he sounds like a therapist, even in casual conversation, is no surprise—after two decades of self-laceration, onstage and off, Maron has reinvented himself on WTF as the comedy world’s been-there-done-that guidance counselor. And he’s been there, having developed a 'little coke habit' while majoring in English at Boston University that grew into an addiction when he moved to L.A. and fell in with the hard-rolling Sam Kinison. 'It wasn’t just coke,' he says. 'You drink, you do coke, you smoke weed. You’re a comic. Eventually, I coked myself into psychosis and got highly paranoid and mystically minded. It took about a year and a half to get my brain back.'
"... He called a few friends in the biz, like Jeffrey Ross, WTF’s first guest, and interviewed them in the office that Air America had not yet kicked him out of. The podcast’s download count is now 53 million—400,000 downloads a week. It’s consistently in iTunes’ Top Ten, owing to Maron’s uncanny ability to persuade A-list guests like Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, and Chris Rock to delve deep into their hearts of darkness—helping paint a collective portrait of comedy as an obstacle course so plotted with failure and misery that not even fame can provide escape.

In the world of Marvel comics there is this fascinating character called The Night Nurse. She has volunteered to treat superheroes and, I believe, villains, who are injured and need their identity kept secret from prying hospitals who would want to know about their insurance plans. Marc Maron, curiously enough, is not unlike the Night Nurse: he is a thereapist for comedians. Bravo, Marc on finally finding your voice -- and the thing that you were put on this earth to do -- at age 48. His most recent interview with Amy Poehler is here.

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