Marc Maron is a veteran comedian who has seen his popularity skyrocket on the internet.
Maron hosts WTF, a twice-weekly hour-long podcast he records in a studio built into his California garage. Each episode is over an hour long, and his guests have included some of the top names in comedy. In two-and-a-half years, episodes have been downloaded more than 40-million times.
Tonight, he performs standup in Grand Rapids as part of Gilda’s LaughFest. On Saturday, he’ll record an episode of WTF in front of a live audience. Both programs are at the Wealthy Theatre.
WKAR’s Scott Pohl recently talked with Marc Maron about interviewing other comics.
MARC MARON: Our issues are real, and the issues that we have that everyone shares…fear, career, relationship, disease, death, problems, issues, alcoholism…we experience all of those things. We are full, not necessarily well-rounded people, but we’re definitely people that have lives and have deep thoughts about things. I just thought who better to talk to about my problems than my peers? It turns out that other people enjoy listening to that process.
SCOTT POHL: It’s easy to ask you who your favorite guests have been, but I think I’d rather ask you who has been the most pleasant surprise? Perhaps a comedian you didn’t know much about or didn’t find particularly funny or likeable until you spent an hour with them and grew to like them, grew to admire them. Who might have been your favorite surprise guest?
MARON: I’m surprised by almost everybody. Norm Macdonald surprised me. Conan O’Brien surprised me. Steven Wright surprised me. Richard Lewis surprised me. They surprise you for different reasons. I didn’t even know if Norm could have a conversation, and it turned out to be one of the best episodes I’ve done. Conan O’Brien: I’ve done his show 40 some-odd times, and we’ve never had a real conversation off the set. Richard Lewis happened to be over here very early in the morning, so he wasn’t really firing on all the Lewis cylinders, and because of that, there was some nice space in the conversation to really engage with him. That was a tremendous pleasure. Steven Wright: I was pacing around my house wondering whether or not he talked like a normal person, and it turned out he’s a beautiful guy and we had just a great conversation.
POHL: I do have to ask who’s on your wish list that you haven’t had on the show yet.
MARON: I’d like to have Will Ferrell on, and there’s a couple musicians I’d like to talk to. I’d like to have Iggy Pop on. I’d like to talk to Cameron Crowe, only because in the opening of my show, in that montage of sound, there’s a line from Almost Famous, in which I had a very small part. I’ve been trying to pursue him, not too hard, to come do the show. I feel like his character in Almost Famous, pursuing that guitar player.
I’d love to talk to Lorne Michaels, to David Letterman, to Woody Allen, but there are certain people that I really just think are not reachable. I’m still basically doing my own booking, and I’m going on the friend of a friend method of booking. Hopefully I’ll know somebody that knows somebody that can get me through to somebody. Occasionally, a publicist will chime in.
POHL: I wanted to ask you one last question about your visit to Grand Rapids, where on one night you’re going to do standup, but a couple of nights later, you’ll be recording a live version of the podcast. That strikes me as maybe the best of both worlds, where you get to spend some of this time talking with other comedians, but in a live setting where you get to have audience reaction as part of the process.
MARON: The live shows are really for the audience. They’re different in their tone than the ones in the garage, because in the garage, there’s just me and that person, alone and talking. The live ones are really a panel. I’ll bring guys out and we’ll chat for 10 minutes, and they’ll get some laughs, and then they’ll move down a seat. I’ll bring another dude out and we’ll do the same thing, and everybody can chime in where they seem appropriate. So, I’m dealing with Drew Hastings and Tommy Johnagin, and Kevin Nealon and Alan Zweibel. Johnagin’s a very funny guy, very popular. Drew Hastings is an interesting guy. I think he’s now mayor of a city! (Ed. Note: Hastings was elected mayor of Hillsboro, Ohio and was sworn in January 2, 2012) He’s politically interesting but also a veteran comic and he’s got a hell of a story. Nealon is just hilarious. And then Zweibel used to write for the original SNL (Saturday Night Live), and I’m sure he’s got some great stories. And, maybe some other people will stop by. I’m hoping Jim Gaffigan will come by. We’ll see.