Saturday, August 13, 2011

Marc Maron Podcasting Super Star

Article first published as Marc Maron Podcasting Super Star on Technorati.

Cerebral comic Marc Maron, out with a new stand-up album, This Has to Be Funny, is riding a new wave of popularity as a result of all things a podcast. His twice weekly show, WTF With Marc Maron, soon to go over its 200th episode begins with a ten or fifteen minute rant about Maron's state of mind, and then features one or more long form interviews, usually although not always with fellow comedians. Guests have included some major celebrities like Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon, and some lesser known—Steve Hughes and Simon Munnery. There are old timers like Jonathan Winters, and newer stars like Ed Helm.

As interview shows go, what makes Maron's podcast stand out is a knack for getting his guests to talk about things other than whatever they are interested in plugging at the moment. You can hear Jimmy Fallon talking about his father in the navy singing doo wop. Australian comic Greg Fleet talks about his habit of borrowing money from all his friends. Bobcat Goldthwait riffs on his brother's taste for shooting animals. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are dead serious.

And it is in those dead serious moments that the show is even more compelling. There are the times when his guests are more than willing to talk about some of their darkest moments. Maron, of course is known for his own darkness, a depression he has made a career of sharing with his audiences, so it may not be odd that a guest would be willing to share his melancholy with a fellow sufferer. Whatever the reason, Maron can sure get them comfortable enough to talk.

Check out Episode 190 with Todd Hanson, a long time writer for The Onion. The first of two interviews broadcast together, unlike most of the episodes which are recorded in Maron's garage, is held in a Brooklyn hotel. They talk about Hanson's skill as a dishwasher. They talk about his career at The Onion. They talk about his depression as a younger man. There seems to be something he wants to talk about, but can't quite bring himself to do it. The interview ends, but then some weeks later, now ready to talk about it, he does a second interview. Turns out the hotel has a special significance for Hanson; turns out that not that long ago he attempted suicide in that very hotel—not the kind of stuff you get on The Tonight Show.

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