I don’t think an issue of Entertainment Weekly has been this influential on me in decades. I’ve read the magazine on and off for quite a while and only currently have a subscription right now because of an exchange for airline miles and no other real magazines that I’m interested in. I’m talking about the one from about three week’s back. I don’t have it anymore, but it’s the True Blood cover. Not only did it have an interesting feature on Wet Hot American Summer (much of which seemed lifted from a Jeff Goldsmith podcast featuring David Wain, but what do I know?), but also a story about comedian Marc Maron’s podcast WTF.
Now, I had heard about this podcast a little earlier because Kevin Smith was on it and I listened to that ep, but I didn’t really get the overall idea. See, if you haven’t read the EW article or been lucky enough to jump on the Maron train back when the show first kicked off nearly 200 episodes ago, the idea is that Maron talks to comedians of different ilks but really gets into their psyches, where they came from and what their views on comedy are. It’s the same kind of behind-the-scenes, in-depth stuff that makes me enjoy Jim Shooter’s blog about comic books.
I haven’t listened to a ton of episode, mostly because iTunes only goes back so far, but I have heard him interview Rob Corddy, Henry Rollins, Patton Oswalt, Gallagher, Dave Foley, Stephen Tobolowsky and Dino Stamatopoulos as I write this. I cherrypicked from what’s available on iTunes, mostly going with names that I recognized and then subscribing. I have 23 waiting to be listened to. Since they’re all over an hour, that should take me a while to get caught up.
I’ve been a fan of stand-up comedy for as long as I can remember. My dad had Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy comedy tapes that we would listen to–though I couldn’t tell my mom because there were some pretty serious F-bombs in there. I also happened to grow up in the golden age of Comedy Central back when they actually used to show funny things. ZING! After school I’d watch everything from Benny Hill and Monty Python’s Flying Circus to The Kids In The Hall and the comedians that were all over shows like Premium Blend and what not. I don’t pretend to be some kind of huge comedy fan, but I definitely remember seeing some amazing comedians on there that would go on to be big and lots that weren’t. Maron’s one of them, but his success level should be judged by someone other than me.
What I love about this podcast is how deep Maron goes. I think about the questions I ask on the interviews I do and they’re absolutely nothing compared to this. I get the feeling that other funny people don’t mind letting their guards down around him because he’s one of their own. He’s in the club. Plus, he usually records at his house, so I think that puts folks at ease. All of that mixes for some awesome interviews that get into a lot of personal stuff that these people probably haven’t talked about in public without throwing in a punchline.
I am completely inspired by what Maron has done with this podcast. I wish I had the vehicle to ask people these kinds of questions. The way he has real conversations with people just blows me away. I wish I could come up with a subject, forum or hook for something along these lines and do it on my own, but that idea isn’t there yet for me. I also love how Maron just went for it. He started this podcast on his own, utilizing some friends and connections he had made after years of being a stand-up and now it’s something that comedians seem to be falling over themselves to get on. Hell, there’s a Jonathan Winters episode! I’ve realized just in the past year or so that I actually really like interviewing people, but I want to get more in depth with this stuff. I just need a subject…