Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marc Maron, WTF: the podcast of podcasts

One of the best podcasts out there is WTF, a show about comedians and comedy hosted by Marc Maron. Actually the show is about Marc Maron and his issues, and either you enjoy his neurotic, angry, jealous, addictive, antic, bitter, probing, obsessive, self-loathing persona and love the podcast, or else it totally isn't for you.

The New York Times did a piece on WTF, and Maron will be on Conan next week. WTF just made headlines as director Kevin Smith went off on Bruce Willis on his recent appearance. The podcast is becoming popular and influential, so as Maron starts becoming more famous after decades in the alternative comedy business, people are wondering: will this success ruin Marc Maron? Answer: no, because he's already ruined. At least that's how his comedy persona would respond.

A good description from the NYT piece: "Mr. Maron, a stand-up comic by trade, has cast himself as an unlikely celebrity interviewer — one who is angry, probing, neurotic and a vulnerable recovering addict. And somehow he’s able to elicit from his guests, mostly other comedians like Sarah Silverman and Ben Stiller, the same level of vulnerability."

WTF is available for free on iTunes, and averages about 230,000 downloads a week, meaning that Maron is regularly reaching a lot of people with the conversations he records in his garage-- far more than an alternative comedian could regularly reach.

The must-hear WTF episodes are the ones where Carlos Mencia talks about dealing with the accusations that he is an a-hole who steals material from other comedians, which is the third rail of comedy that must never be touched. Most other comedians hate Mencia, but Maron gives him a fair chance to be himself, and just observes and gently prods as Mencia spins out his own unique version of reality. Must listening.

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