I finally got to see Marc Maron in person doing his comedy routine, or rather his tragicomedy, tonight at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Better than I expected even, more than I could have hoped for. True, I don’t have much to compare to since I rarely go see standup comics–but still, this guy touches his audience on such a deep level, and on so many levels, one cannot simply call it comedy. Which is why I’m using tragicomedy.
A tragicomic example: He did one riff where grownup Marc spoke to Fat Little Boy Marc after the kid blew a baseball catch in centerfield. He fell before the ball even got there, and it landed on his face. After painting a picture of his 9-year-old self all bloodied and crying, he told this little boy exactly how this incident was going to affect the rest of his life. In therapy this would be a breakthrough. In conversation with someone close to him it’d probably inspire tears. As performance it was all that, plus hilarious. Why such a tragic story should be funny I don’t know, and how Maron transforms the tragedies of life into comedies I can’t figure out, but there you have it.
Much of his performance had me thinking, Wow, men have it bad too. Maron pulled off something I’ve only seen in a male performer maybe once or twice in my life: he aroused in me the kind of empathy I easily feel for women when they share this kind of personal experience. He pushed my compassion buttons so I felt the pain of the American male—or at least this American male. The struggle of little boys who aren’t, as Maron calls them, alpha males; the lifelong fear of jocks; and now, with a girlfriend who’s 20 years younger, he’s become an easy target of righteous wrath from women who assume he’s a shallow man with a trophy wife. He talked about the issues an older person of any gender faces when involved with a younger one, panting to keep up the pace when walking down the street with her, or running around to concerts and such at night. He didn’t choose his girlfriend for her age, but her age carries its own specific baggage. On top of which he has to live with hateful looks from feminists and other women.
It reminds me of the days when I did feminist theater, and men’s reactions were always, “What about men?” We’d say, “Make your own theater!” Most of them didn’t. Maron did.
It was a major schlepp getting there and a genuine trauma getting back to a BART station, San Francisco being no better than the East Bay when it comes to transportation, including taxicabs. No; especially taxicabs. Yet with all that it was worth it. I don’t want to go into the nightmare travel details, but believe me, when I say it was worth it, I’m saying a mouthful.
I restrained myself from talking to Marc afterwards, even though he made himself available to his fans. I suspect he already thinks I’m a stalker, based on my emails to and blogs about him, so I didn’t want to frighten him further by showing up in the flesh. But hey, Maron, in case you’re reading this: I’m the lady who yelled “Ew” to your dinner of Chinese lamb fat, and later yelled “Brilliant” about your performance. You were.
- Marc Maron dishes on his new IFC comedy; plus, the trailer for ‘Maron’ – EXCLUSIVE VIDEO (insidetv.ew.com)
- Marc Maron’s new IFC show debuts in May; taping new stand-up special in NYC (brooklynvegan.com)