Magazine article Variety

Podcaster Swims to Mainstream

Magazine article Variety

Podcaster Swims to Mainstream

Article excerpt


Comedian Marc Maron has been in movies, on television, written a book and made dozens of appearances as a latenight guest, particularly with Conan O'Brien. Yet after 15 years in showbiz, Maron hadn't yet found his launchpad until he started podcast "WTF" in his garage in 2009, inviting fellow comedians to talk about anything. Guests have included Joel McHale, Craig Ferguson, Chelseas Handler, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, Jimmy Kimmel, Paul Feig, Chris Rock, Bill Mäher, Patton Oswalt and just about anyone who has deliver jokes at the Comedy Store or humped it in a TV writers' room. Now, "WTF" has crossed over into public radio, Maron has a 10-episode order for a tentatively self-titled TV show on IFC, and he's working on a new book of essays. He spoke with Randee Dawn about finally getting traction in the industry, the meaning of the podcast, and the mellowing effects of getting older.

RD: Was it strange to turn the tables on Conan O'Brien and have him on your show?

MM: I never thought he'd come over here; we have a very on-air relationship. And all of a sudden he's in my garage and in my house. A good "WTF" episode works as a portrait of the person. I don't prepare questions, I just try to get a sense of who the person is and embark on a random conversation. There are really very few people I haven't been profoundly surprised by.

RD: Does it surprise you that you've become this psychological sounding board for comedians with "WTF"?

MM: Something we've lost with the evolution of the culture is that people are very capable of talking with others for prolonged periods of time. It's a lost art of listening and talking and being emotionally present. I don't know what the alchemy of it is; me bringing my own baggage to it, or my garage is a little disarming and comfortable. I'm just talking about things that are important to me, and then we get into emotional issues. Sometimes we're lighthearted, though.

RD: You're particularly visible lately. Do you feel like things have kicked into a higher gear?

MM: Without a doubt. As long as everything doesn't happen at once, you can get the work done and focus on everything. I once did morning radio, and that's a different type of busy - waking up at 3:30 a.m. and get on the air at 6. …

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