Occasionally, a story about standup comedian Marc Maron bubbles up in the mainstream press. Each time, the writer is forced to do something he must know in his heart to be antithetical to the very idea of writing about Marc Maron: He must attempt to encapsulate the concept of Marc Maron. Given his outsized personality and his willingness to discuss just about anything on the subject of Marc Maron in excruciating detail, it's difficult to decide what merits inclusion.
Maron's career has spanned decades and included stints ranging from second-stringer in comedy legend Sam Kinison's entourage, and hosting duties on now-defunct Air America Radio, to memoirist. By Maron's own admission, his career has been fraught with struggles with addiction, divorce and professional jealousy. In late 2009, at a personal and professional low point, Maron launched his podcast, WTF With Marc Maron, out of the garage of his Los Angeles home.
In interviews, Maron has a knack for triangulating the point at which struggle and hardship become creativity. In his 2010 WTF interview with comedian Louis C.K., for instance, the two discussed the ups and downs of their long-running friendship, culminating with C.K. admonishing Maron for his failings as a friend. This past December, Slate.com chose this episode as the best example of the podcasting medium to date. WTF is set to reach the 600-episode mark in a few weeks.
In recent years, it has been WTF that has garnered the most attention for Maron. On the podcast, Maron is as raw and cutting as he is onstage. But podcasting, with its lack of constraints on time and content, has proven a medium for which Maron is uniquely suited — so suited that his experiences as a fledgling podcaster form the basis for his self-titled IFC sitcom, entering its third season.
Ironically, WTF has granted Maron what years of standup comedy could not: the freedom to stretch out and truly be himself. Though it might overshadow his standup — which he brings to Pittsburgh on April 17 — it is hard to see the podcast as having anything other than a positive effect on it. With jokes that focus almost solely on the experience of being Marc Maron, having an audience that so fully understands what that means does wonders for his set-up.