WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Oct 26, 2010
Ira writes:

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.

WTF with Marc MaronStart 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 and two), 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 two parter 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.

Nice Ink from the New York Review of Books

Oct 22, 2010

A publication renowned for their long form criticism, The New York Review of Books looks at public radio in their November 11th issue (on newsstands and online). Bill McKibben gives the subject a thoughtful and thorough treatment, and finds some good news. "This is the perfect moment to be a young radiohead," he writes. “It’s like 1960s and 1970s cinema, with auteurs rewriting the rules."

Find the whole article—it's a really good read—here.

‘Everything Sings,’ with an introduction by Ira Glass

Oct 14, 2010

If you’ve listened to our episode Mapping, you know about the peculiar maps that Denis Wood has made of his neighborhood in Raleigh, NC. Now Denis has collected these maps into a book called Everything Sings, with an introduction written by Ira Glass.

If you haven’t heard the episode, here’s the deal: Denis mapped his neighborhood of Boylan Heights over and over, focusing on features that any normal cartographer would ignore: the glow of street lamps, the preponderance of jack-o-lanterns, the number of newsletter mentions (pictured), etc. It’s a unique way of looking at space.

Everything Sings

From Ira’s introduction:

These maps remind me of all the radio stories I love most. After all, most radio is a boring salaryman, waking up before you and me to announce the headlines or play the hits to some predetermined demographic. Yet some radio stories elbow their way into the world in defiance of that unrelentingly practical mission, with the same goal Denis Wood’s maps have: to take a form that’s not intended for feeling or mystery and make it breathe with human life.

Siglio Press is offering a discount to This American Life listeners who order the book. Just enter the discount code TALMAP and you will get 20% off the cover price.


- Your friends at This American Life

This American Life contributors, on stage in Brooklyn

Oct 14, 2010

The Talent Show Brand Variety Show The Talent Show has another show coming up, at a new location -- Littlefield in Gowanus, Brooklyn -- on October 27, featuring This American Life producers Ira Glass and Jane Feltes, plus contributors John Hodgman, Dave Hill, Eugene Mirman, Shaina Feinberg and Elna Baker.

Format for the evening: Truth or Dare.

$5. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. Tickets.

Mike Birbiglia: on tour

Oct 12, 2010

Regular This American Life contributor Mike Birbiglia is heading out on a 12-city tour, performing stories and reading from his new book Sleepwalk With Me (check out his interview on Fresh Air). It's called "The Painfully True Stories Tour," material from which will become a new one-man show My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (the title comes from a story Mike performed on our episode Somewhere Out There).

This American Life iPhone app

First off, if you're in new York, Mike is doing a free reading TONIGHT 10/12, at Barnes and Noble on 66th and Broadway.

The rest of his tour dates are below. You can find tickets to all the shows here.

Wed Oct 13 - Boston, MA - Wilbur Theatre - 7:30 PM

Thu Oct 14 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre - 8:00 PM

Fri Oct 15 - Washington, DC - Warner Theatre - 8:00 PM

Sat Oct 16 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre - 7:00 PM

Tue Oct 19 - San Francisco, CA - Palace of Fine Arts - 8:00 PM

Thu Oct 21 - Hollywood, CA - Avalon - 8:00 PM

Fri Oct 22 - Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre - 8:00 PM

Sat Oct 23 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater - 8:00 PM

Thu Nov 4 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse - 8:00 PM

Fri Nov 5 - Charlotte, NC - Knight Theater - 8:00 PM

Sat Nov 6 - Durham, NC - Carolina Theatre - 8:00 PM

Fri Nov 12 - Madison, WI - Barrymore Theatre - 8:00 PM


Ira Glass's cameo on The Simpsons

Sep 28, 2010

In case you missed the season premiere of The Simpsons this past weekend, here is Ira Glass' cameo:

Hey New Yorkers: check out Ira Glass in a charity spelling bee, this Thursday 9/30.

Sep 27, 2010

This Thursday, September 30th Ira Glass will participate in the Spelling Beast, a fundraiser for the students of 826 NYC (a great nonprofit that teaches kids writing skills). Fellow competitors Catherine Keener, Dave Eggers and Kristen Schaal will join Ira in bee, which is being judged by the creators of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

You can get involved in several ways:

Purchase tickets to attend the event, at Canal Room.

Compete in the Spelling Beast yourself!

Or donate to a competitor's fund, which will help him or her bribe the judges.

- Your friends at This American Life

Ira Glass has a cameo in the season Premiere of The Simpsons!

Sep 21, 2010

Bart Simpson Alert! Ira Glass (or his voice, at least) will appear briefly in the season premiere of The Simpsons, this coming Sunday September 26th at 8PM/7PM Central. We're told the episode is titled "Elementary School Musical." Tune in!

David Rakoff reads from his new book!

Sep 16, 2010

This American Life iPhone app One of our regular contributors David Rakoff has a new book called Half Empty, and is coming to a city near you for a reading/Q&A/signing! You can hear him interviewed about the book on Fresh Air, here.

Tuesday, September 21—New York City
Barnes and Noble, Union Square - 33 East 17th Street

Wednesday, September 22—Baltimore
Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Library - 400 Cathedral Street

Thursday, September 23—Washington DC
Politics and Prose - 5015 Connecticut Ave NW

Monday, September 27—Columbus, OH
Thurber House Event - The Columbus Performing Center - 549 Franklin Ave

Tuesday, September 28—Chicago
Chicago Public Library - 400 S State Street

Wednesday, September 29—Minneapolis/St.Paul
Minnesota Public Radio Author Series - 480 Cedar Street, St. Paul

Friday, October 1—San Francisco
City Arts and Lectures - Herbst Theater - 401 Van Ness Ave

Thursday, October 7—Seattle
University Books - Town Hall - 1119 Eighth Ave (at Seneca Street)

Saturday, October 9—Portland, OR
Wordstock Festival

Wednesday, October 13—New York City
Three Lives - 154 West 10th Street

Thursday, October 14—Brooklyn
Greenlight Bookstore - 686 Fulton Street

Saturday, October 16—Boston
Boston Book Festival

Wednesday, October 20—New York City
Symphony Space - 2537 Broadway - in conversation with Sloane Crosley

Chicago Magazine includes This American Life on its "Top 40" List

Sep 2, 2010
We're #36 on Chicago Magazine's list of "Chicago's Top 40 Artistic Breakthroughs", which also includes our friend Chris Ware (interviewed in Episode 178: Superpowers, with a link to one of his comics) and our radio forefather Studs Terkel (some of whose stories you can hear in Episode 368: Who Do You Think You Are?). Plus Muddy Waters, Second City and Wilco. But no Oprah.