Right now, pretty much every comedian without a network TV show has his own podcast, but Marc Maron's WTF Podcast, here
on the web or here
on iTunes has distinguished itself as the New York Times
of comedy podcasts, and by that I mean the definitive comedy podcast of record.
Start with the two-part expose/investigative report into how Carlos Mencia steals other comedians' material, which begins in Part One
with Mencia totally denying any wrongdoing and continues in Part Two
with other comedians coming forward with evidence and Mencia rushing to Marc's house from the airport, no kidding, to finally cop to his wrongdoing.
Or take the amazing two parter with Judd Apatow (one
), where the executive producer of Freaks and Geeks
and director of Knocked Up
digs out recordings of the radio show he did in high school as an excuse to meet his favorite comedians and interview them about how to get started in comedy. He plays long excerpts. How did Maron beat Fresh Air
and our show to this idea? Amazing. Jerry Seinfeld before he was a megastar: charming and honest. Jay Leno: sort of a dick, even talking to a high school kid.
Or the road trip Marc takes with Maria Bamford
where she talks about her last relationship and what was fucked up about it, and Marc realizes that it was a lot like his failed marriage, and suddenly feels like he's hearing his ex-wife's side of everything she went through with him.
Or truly revealing, entertaining interviews with huge stars like Ben Stiller
or Robin Williams
, where you hear them like they usually never talk in interviews, because they've known Maron for decades and hang out with him for an hour...or two of the most interesting hours of podcast I've ever heard (though maybe because I'm such a sucker for Louis CK), the
with Louis where he not only talks about all kinds of weird filmmaking details but actually cries.
I'm in his podcast
this week. I was excited to do it because I'm such a fan, thanks to my wife, who is my portal for all things comedy and come to think of it pretty much anything else I watch or listen to.
Being interviewed by Maron reminded me of an old axiom about interviewing: that an interview is a party you're throwing and your guest will mirror your behavior. Marc is an insanely intense guy, and stares into you as you talk—it really feels like his eyes are piercing inside you—and then when he speaks he reaches inside himself and talks in the most heartfelt way possible. In a room with that, you'd have to be made of stone not to respond in the most soulful way you can summon up. He's emotionally present and he makes you emotionally present. I don't think that's any kind of calculated move, it's who he is when he's performing. And of course it gets amazing results.
Another fun fact: he records the thing on a little digital recorder, with two handheld mics attached by long mic cords. The mics he uses are the kind a comedian uses onstage. So as the interviewee, you hold a mic like a standup comedian would the whole time. Very comfortable I'm sure, for all the standups he talks to.