For those of you not familiar with Marc Maron, he is an irreverent, alternative stand-up comedian who got his start in the comedy clubs in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He had a decent career as a comic but really exploded when he started his Podcast in 2009. He now has his own popular Podcast as well as his own TV show. On his Podcast Marc interviews comedians. He talks shop about what it’s like being a stand-up comic and since comics are enigmas, the Podcasts are fascinating.
I’ve been a fan of Marc for some time now, even before his Podcast because I am a fellow smart comedian and like his brand of alternative fare. I’m also sober in AA so we have that in common too. I am convinced that if we met in the 90’s, when we were both at the height of our drug addictions that we would have had a Sid and Nancy type of love affair.
I started binge listening to his Podcasts because (and I try to keep this on the down low because I like to stay clear of being a Hollywood douche bag) I’m working on a television about the stand up world in the 70’s, told from a female comic perspective.
While rewriting my pilot and because of notes I got from the production company, I decided to listen to a bunch (like 40 ) WTF podcasts. I listened to: Jimmy Walker, Garry Shandling, Alan Bursky, Robin Williams, The Amazing Jonathan, Allan Stephan, Shelly Berman and the list goes on and on.
Marc’s interview style is deep and psychological. He draws out those strange, screwed up stories that comics have in spades. I really liked his interviews of the comics from 70’s and 80’s who were staples at The Comedy Store. Marc was also one of those comics at The Comedy Store in the late 80’s and 90’s who seems to be traumatized, and rightly so from his experiences at the Death Star.
After listening to countless screwed up tales of dysfunctional comedians, the one interview that I listened to that was far different from any I’ve heard before was Nick Stoller’s. Nick is a writer/director who directed the hits, “Neighbors” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” He has led a charmed life and that really threw Marc. Marc was immediately put off by Nick’s Harvard education and his easy road to fame and fortune.
I gotta admit, it kinda pissed me off too but then I realized while listening to Nick that he isn’t happy. I mean so much so that he suffers from anxiety and is seeing a therapist. Marc couldn’t understand why someone who has everything…the wife, the kids, the career, could be unhappy?! Well, the answer is easy. Anyone who bases their happiness on things or on anything external will never find true happiness.
Marc knows this from being in AA, which is a spiritual program. It’s an inside job and no matter how much money you make or how great your career is, those things are just temporary where as your soul is infinite and where you should derive true happiness from.
But I don’t think that Marc sees this because he is too identified with his neurosis. He has built a career on being the angry, emotionally fucked up comic and without that identity he wouldn’t know what to do.
In the program when we go through a 4th and 5th steps our “old ideas” are revealed to us. One of my biggest “old ideas” that I have is that I am a victim. When you’re a victim you don’t need to take any responsibility for your life and the people who victimized you in the past own you. I had to work hard on changing that “old idea.”
Marc has a lot of “old ideas” that he is still clinging to like a life vest. One of those “old ideas”, I believe, is that success means that you have “made it” in your career, that being rich and famous will somehow make you happy. Maybe Marc needs to change his definition of success.
I believe that when Marc lets go of his angry, fucked up and neurotic identity and really works on what’s blocking his path to happiness he will find true joy. In the meantime, thanks for your truly insightful Podcast that makes me laugh as well as think.