The Madeleine Brand Show for November 25, 2011

Marc Maron: Probing the dark night of the comic's soul

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Seth Olenick/WTF with Marc Maron

Marc Maron, host of the podcast "WTF."

Marc Maron's alternative brand of comedy has been pleasing fans for decades, but he's finally gaining a large audience with his hit podcast, "WTF." In it, Maron interviews fellow comedians at length, delving deep into the psyches of these notoriously volatile personalities.

With over two hundred podcasts under his belt, Maron recently released a new comedy album, "This Has to be Funny."

"It's a lot. Every day," Maron told The Madeleine Brand Show. "All of a sudden I missed the days where I had no future."

Maron records the WTF podcast from his home studio in Highland Park. In one interview he got comic Carlos Mencia to admit he may have unwittingly stolen material and bumped other comics off stage. In another, he spoke to "The Onion" head writer Todd Hanson about his attempted suicide.

"I did not set up the podcast to get to the heart of how people are troubled or disturbed or what dark secrets are hiding," Maron said. "But I think that I'm not a small talk kind of person; I'm sort of a too-much-information kind of person."

He's also had guests like Louis C.K., Bob Saget and Judd Apatow who often share personal insights and anecdotes about their lives, childhoods and professional and personal struggles. "It's a lost form to have genuine conversations with people that go on and on," Maron said.

Maron doesn't host comedians to hear them tell jokes or be laugh-out-loud funny, but describes them instead as "philosophers" and "poets." Comics have chosen a risky profession that allows them to live off the grid, Maron said.

Comics are "real thinkers" who are sensitive, intuitive and capable of talking about nearly anything, according to Maron. "And if it does get too dark we're not gonna end up in a pit that we can't get out of because they're comics and their skill set is not going to really let them go that deep," Maron said.

Maron opens up about himself on the show as well, and he says this unorthodox approach to interviewing may be why so many of his guests open up so honestly and wholeheartedly.

"The tone changes and you're in the world of organic conversation," Maron said.

Maron says although he doesn't like to classify his show as therapy, it is a mechanism for not only learning about his guests, but figuring out his own issues and where they come from. He's self-aware, sober and facilitating an open conversation that society has been based on for years, Maron said.

"There's a lot of things that happen in a heart and in a mind before anger happens," Maron said. "It's easy to be angry, it's easy to be bitter, but what is the real thing? What's underneath that?"

Written by Hayley Fox


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