This past summer, I started listening to the WTF with Marc Maron Podcast. I keep telling people to listen to it, but everyone’s like, “Yeah, yeah, Adrienne. Whatever.”
But I’m telling you, it’s really good.
Maron is a standup comedian who interviews other comedians. He approaches his subjects as one imperfect human being talking to another, and he focuses on the creative process–what brought people to comedy, what their neuroses are, how they work. I started out listening mostly to interviews with comedians whose work I enjoy, like Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, and Conan O’Brien. Marc’s interview with Bryan Cranston made me finally start watching Breaking Bad. Just yesterday, I listened to the podcast where Marc has Mike Birbiglia (who I know from This American Life–his piece in this episode is one of my Favorite Things Ever) interview him, which I wound up listening to twice because there was so much to think about going on. I find, though, that even when it’s a comedian I think I will be completely uninterested in, the interviews are still compelling. For instance, I don’t think I’d ever go see Carrot Top perform, but I was still glued to my headphones listening to his interview.
The thing that makes the podcast worth listening to is that it transcends its subject. Certainly listening to it is an education in comedy as an industry, but a lot of it is about life and fears and hopes and dreams. Because most comedians write their own material, a lot of it is about writing, and, of course, a lot of it is about performance. One thing I find comforting that I hear over and over again from the comics is that they feel compelled to perform even though they get really nervous about it, which I completely relate to.
At this point, I’ve listened to most of the freely available podcasts (he has about fifty or so available for free), so I paid for access to the back catalog (he’s on episode 224 and adding two more every week). What I love best in life are things that make me think and laugh at the same time, and this is one of them.