Comedian Marc Maron Speaks On His 'Magical Place,' Robin Williams
Marc Maron has been doing comedy for over two decades, be it standup, on the radio, or television specials. But his popularity has really taken flight over the last several years with his twice-weekly podcast called “WTF with Marc Maron,” which has reached number one on the iTunes comedy section multiple times, and his current television show on IFC called “Maron.” He will be performing in Charlotte at the Comedy Zone for three nights starting tonight, and he joined us this morning.
KK: How are you?
MM: I’m doing ok. I’m doing my laundry as we speak in California. I just want to loop people in on my exciting life.
KK: Are you doing the darks or lights right now?
MM: Uh, the darks. Thank you for asking. That was a very delicate question and I think you handled it very well.
KK: Your podcast, "WTF with Marc Maron," which features conversations with comedians and other celebrities, has become extremely successful since you started it 2009. What inspired you to want to start a podcast and did you ever see it becoming this popular?
MM: I had no idea what would happen with this show. And what really drove me to my garage to start talking on a mic was desperation. At that time I had been doing comedy almost half my life – a good 20 years. I’d been on "Conan" some 50 times, I had done specials on HBO and Comedy Central, and I had worked very hard as a comic my entire life. But I had never really got much traction. I was never able to really pull an audience, you know? And I was going through a bad divorce and my manager had hung me out to dry and I was in a bad place. I had done a little radio, and I knew people had been doing podcasts, so we just decided to feel it out. And then when I moved back to L.A., I put my mics up in my garage and the show evolved from there.
KK: Well certainly the show has some traction now, but you’re still in the garage, correct?
MM: It’s a magic place! Why would anyone ever leave a magic place? I mean I’d always had a dream of working out of my garage doing “man work” in my garage. It’s very cozy and very cluttered, and something magic happens here. There’s something about podcasting, and not being a junket stop at a radio studio, where people come into my home, have a water, go to the bathroom, make them some coffee or whatever they need. Sometimes if they’re British I make them tea. And then we come out here, and we sit down, and the best thing that can happen is that they forget that they’re talking on microphones, and that tends to happen.
KK: You star in a television show in its second season on IFC called “Maron,” which draws from many elements of your life. Between that and your podcast, which you and your guests talk a lot about your own personal experiences, have you come to the realization that simply being yourself was the best way to go, or was that always something that you knew.
MM: Well, I think that as a comic, that was oddly what I was striving for. A lot of comics initially set out to be entertainers and seek love, and do their thing. I think I was really on some sort of journey to sort of be myself. And I think that when I arrived in my garage my comedy became better. I really think I’m doing the best comedy of my career. I mean I went through years of really sort of evolving, and went through anger and figuring out where I stood up there. But I think that the podcast and the way people respond to it, means that I’ve done something purely mine and that my comfort level and the way that I use my imagination now, it sort of all hinges on having the freedom of mind that comes with being who I am.
KK: I read that when "Saturday Night Live" overhauled the cast in 1995, you auditioned, and you feel that you didn’t get cast because you were high during a meeting with SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Looking back at who got cast during that season, do you feel that is something that you could have been a part of and fit into well back then?
MM: I think there were other reasons other than me being slightly stoned. Certainly that is something that he had dealt with before, I imagine! It wasn’t like I was botching the meeting, I was just very self conscious. And I don’t know that I was really ready to handle it. I’ve got to be honest with you. It took me a good 20 years to really be comfortable with myself and what I could do with my talent and what my limitations were.
Before Marc Maron got off the phone, he took a few moments to share some personal thoughts about Robin Williams.
MM: In April 2010, I did an interview with him. I drove to his house and sat down with him with the mics, and he was ready to talk about a lot of things.
“And look at what we do for a living, in terms of stand-up. You get to do stuff where if you just went and did it on the street, people would go…“that man”…but if you did it in a club there is that license to thrill. That whole thing. You can do that stuff. But, like you said, the line – you can step over and back over the line of like, what are you going to find out? You’re going to find out that there is this weird, insecure guy that does this, and looking, like Lenny Bruce said, for love. Do you love me? Temporarily? Kind of? And putting that at risk and saying I don’t care if you love me, I’ve got to say this s***. And that’s where you go, sometimes I guess, is that an artist or is that a sociopath?” –Robin Williams
MM: You know it changed me as a person, you know, to be there, and to hold my side of the conversation in an emotional way. When you have something as significant and as charismatic and as amazing as Robin talking to you about very personal things, that conversation changed my life and it changed everything for me. And he was a very sweet guy, and there was nobody like him.
Marc Maron hosts the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” and stars in the IFC television show “Maron.” He’ll be performing for three nights starting tonight at the Comedy Zone.