Marc Maron has done it all – television, standup, and even podcasting.
But this year brought Maron to the small screen in a new format – his own television series, called Maron, in which the American comedian portrays a fictionalized version of himself in a single-camera format, à la Larry David’s Curb your Enthusiasm or Louis C.K.’s Louie.
Maron, who will be taking his brutally honest performance to Toronto for two nights as part of the Just for Laughs Festival, said the opportunity for a show of this kind came at a time when he had given up on that goal.
“It was something I didn’t think I’d be able to do,” he said, “[but] the opportunity came and I took it.”
He described the format as an evolution of the technology that has allowed comedians to feel comfortable playing comics on television.
“It’s OK to not pretend to be a UPS driver now,” he said, adding that his playing himself – even a fictionalized version – gives the show a sense of intimacy. “The world becomes your stage.”
On the show, Maron tells an embellished personal story from a few years ago, when he was at a difficult point in his life.
“My career wasn’t going anywhere, I was broke, and I had gone through a second divorce,” he said. “I knew people were doing podcasts, so I committed to a schedule and let the show evolve.”
And evolve it did. These days, the real-life podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, gets more than 2.5 million listeners a month.
Maron is a scripted show about an unscripted podcast show, with many of Maron’s comedian friends stopping by for interviews – also playing fictionalized versions of themselves.
Audiences wanting to really get to know Maron should listen to the podcast, where they will find a much more authentic version of the comedian than his on-screen persona.
The podcast, which is mostly recorded in Maron’s garage in Los Angeles, gives him a platform to speak his mind freely. He tackles every type of subject, often in conversations with famous guests – just like in the TV show. His real-life guests have included Chris Rock, Mel Brooks, fellow Just for Laughs festival performer Bill Burr, and even musicians like Iggy Pop.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be funny. It just has to be immediate,” he said. “It’s vey nourishing to the soul, and exciting and interesting.”
He described himself as “undeniably Jewish” – culturally, not religiously.
“I think I represent somewhat of the contemporary stereotype of the neurotic self-involved, kind of mildly hypersensitive, a bit defensive and also probing and searching,” he said.
Fans of his work rave about his honesty and willingness to touch upon any topic with his guests. He’s candid about his own struggles, never shying away from difficult topics like his past addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Despite his forays into TV and podcasting, he is a standup comedian at heart.
“At some point when I was a little kid, I wanted to become a comic,” he said. “They seem to have a way figured out through the world. It’s at the core of who I am.”
Marc Maron will perform two shows for Toronto’s Just for Laughs Festival, both on Sept. 24 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.