Comedian Marc Maron finally having his moment
This April 11, 2013 photo shows comedian Marc Maron in New York. Maron stars in the new IFC comedy "Maron," premiering Friday, May 3 at 10 p.m. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK (AP) — Soon after taking the stage, Marc Maron decides to skip the act.
He's got a packed room at a downtown New York club, all eager to see the 49-year-old comic tape what will be a comedy special for Netflix. Normally, such tapings are carefully structured and finely calibrated. Maron promptly decides against it.
"No, let's not," he says. "Let's just work through some stuff."
Working through stuff is the modus operandi for Maron. Though he started out as a stand-up known for bitterness and anger, Maron — after a lot of struggle and a bout with drugs — began funneling all of his anxieties, frustrations and demons into his comedy. For him, working through "stuff" with a microphone is a way of life.
His new book, "Attempting Normal," is dedicated to "anyone who is successfully defying their wiring." He once concluded a speech at the Just for Laughs comedy festival with the summation: "There are a few things more important than comedy, but they aren't funny."
Bitterness and anger certainly haven't left the building, but Maron's issues — those inherited from a manic-depressive father and a weight-obsessed mother, and accrued from jealousy-filled years of show business — are entirely in the open. In an entertainment world full of seemingly flawless, confident performers, Maron's naked insecurities have made him a hero for the imperfect.
"The only time I tend to get frightened is if I get away from stand-up for more than a week or two," Maron said in an interview in early April over a plate of bacon. "I realized I hadn't been on stage in two weeks and I was like: 'Oh my God! It's a lie! I'm not funny! What am I doing?' All these weird fears started coming back. And then I went up and did like an hour and a half and I was like, 'All right. I know who I am again.'"
During the taping, Maron gestured to a notebook on the floor full of illegible scribbles, explaining: "This is the system that's kept me out of the big time for 20 years."
But after more than two decades in comedy — and watching contemporaries like Louis C.K. and Jon Stewart ascend in the industry — Maron is finally having a well-deserved moment. Along with the Netflix special and book out this week from Random House, his IFC series, "Maron," premieres Friday.
And it's all because, at a moment when he was out of other options — lacking work, on his second divorce and giving suicide some thought — he decided to buy a microphone and try a new medium in its infancy: podcasting. On his show, he would comically spill his neuroses while having deeply personal, hour-long conversations with fellow comedians. After sitting for a recent episode, Hank Azaria wondered if Maron "gives out truth drugs."