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Marc Maron’s Meteoric Rise

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 centerpiecewide(Photo: In SF Chronicle,  from IFC)

His new book is selling like hotcakes. His sitcom’s on its third episode, and while reviews are mixed, they lean towards positive. He shows up on the coolest tv shows—Bill Maher, Conan O’Brien, Louis C.K. Bit parts in movies. Mentions in the New Yorker. He MC’s comedy shows in clubs all over the country. And through it all he pumps out, twice a week, the thing that got him all this love and attention to begin with:WTF, his podcast interview show. I’m talking about Marc Maron, a guy who–after a quarter century slogging around in the basement of the entertainment industry—staged a meteoric rise to celebrity status–and in “only” two years!

I’m a bit hesitant to write about Maron, since I worry that he thinks I’m stalking him. I’ve written about him two or three times and to him at least as many. I’ve tossed out phrases like, “I’m in love with him/you.” He doesn’t know that’s just the way I am. Don’t be paranoid, Maron: I have a grip on reality, and I am not, repeat, NOT stalking you. I don’t have secret plans for us. I’m not Sandra Bernhardt and I don’t see you as Jerry Lewis. We are too much alike to even stand being together more than ten minutes. I could never be with someone like myself and I doubt you could either. And that’s just for starters.

Okay, I got that out of the way, now I can breathe. Time to get to the review. If that’s what this is.

Sandra Bernhard in King of Comedy (Photo: movietone.com)

Sandra Bernhard in King of Comedy (Photo: movietone.com)

Maron’s early podcasts coincided with my discovery, and I guess the start, of the podcast phenom. Maron’s WTF soon rose to the top of my list—as it did on iTunes. There are some decent podcasts out there, but also a lotta crap. The guys who tried to copy Maron—not the impressionistic ones, like Maron in Space, but the interviewers—aren’t as good as he is. Nobody converses like Maron. Nobody gets a guest to open up as much; in fact there’ve been a few that come to the garage, home of the broadcast, to get something deep out of their guts: one even admitted as much.

Also, I haven’t heard or seen that much contemporary comedy, and had no idea it could be like Maron’s: real, gloomy, neurotic–and yet genuinely funny. Sort of like Woody Allen only more intense. Hipper. Maron will tell a story to break your heart for the confused little kid who was Marc at 8 or 4 or 11, and then while your heart’s cracking into a zillion pieces, you’re laughing. You wonder, Am I a sadist? He must’ve told the same story dozens of times to get to the point of telling it without weeping himself. That’s called therapy. Maron calls it comedy. Why quibble about semantics?

Also appealing is Maron’s history, a Cinderella story that was a turtle-paced career crawl without a goal line in sight. If any readers out there are, as Maron was, and I still am, slogging around in the basement of your chosen art form in dogged obscurity, Maron is living proof that there’s always hope—genuine hope. His is the artistic variation of that corny refrain known as The American Dream: My brilliant talent will be recognized! I will get rich and famous! I’ll never have to worry about money or work again! Everybody will love me! From Maron’s words and behavior I gather he hasn’t got that last part down yet; maybe he never will. But he is in a relationship with a woman 20 years his junior who wants to have a baby with him. So she isn’t everybody—but you don’t need everybody when you have The Real Thing from one person.

Photo: Catster.com

Photo: Catster.com

All right already, let’s do this thing. Let’s write a review instead of masturbating all over the page. Get it together, Sheiner! You’re being self-indulgent! The truth is, I’m intimidated by the many, many writers far more clever than I who are doing Maron all over the Internet these days.

Eureka! I already said what I have to say. Ergo, here are a few pieces of other people’s reviews with a bit of  commentary:

At least two reviewers said Maron follows “in the footsteps of Louis C.K. and Larry David.”—Here I most vehemently take umbrage. If Maron was a lot like Larry David I wouldn’t be watching or listenting to him, much less singing his praises. David did a great job with Seinfeld, of course—but I could not watch that man’s own show. His character  (and possibly the man himself?) was so hateful, so toxic towards the human race, I just couldn’t stand it. Even in situations where I thought he was in the right I just couldn’t work up sympathy for him. Maron might be neurotic and curmudgeonly—but as one reviewer said about him:

“…his humor has a moral core — not just an irritable one — which leads him to kindness enough.—Robert Lloyd, The LA Times

Salon compares Maron’s sitcom to his podcast and finds it wanting:

“But Maron’s self-help tendencies have already found their best format: Maron’s podcast, where Maron’s own honest self-explorations encourage everyone who joins him in his garage to do the same, while also curtailing Maron’s endless self-infatuation. “Maron” is a little bit like the podcast without the guests, which is too much Maron. … the fact that “Maron” is also a near miss {is} almost poignant — but at least it will make great fodder for a future podcast.”–Willa Paskin

While I agree that WTF is a better platform for Maron, I cut him a little more slack. The show isn’t a “near miss” – at least not yet. How could it be? There’ve been, what? 3 episodes aired so far? Give the guy a break! It might get better. Besides, it’s not so bad now—it’s television.

Oh shit,did I mention the cats? I forgot to mention the cats! Gotta say it: Boomer Lives! 

The book: Attempting Normal

The sitcom: On IFC, 10 p.m. FridayProduct Details

The podcast: WTF

Live appearances: Schedule on WTF website

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