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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dec. 20: Marc Maron

When this show started, way back in 2004, there weren't any comedy podcasts. Or at least I didn't know about them. And what I don't know doesn't exist in my world. These days, cyberspace is littered with them. What's So Funny? isn't technically a comedy show. It's a show about comedy, is how I describe it.

Since I discovered podcasts, I've listened to my share of them. Some I like, some I don't. And of those I like, I find I often tire of them in relatively short order. The schtick gets old with everyone trying to one-up each other. Sometimes I sit there and wonder why I'm listening, and then they'll stumble onto something interesting/fascinating/hilarious.

With so many comedy podcasts, how do you even choose what to pick? I start by looking at the hosts and whether I'm a fan of theirs to begin with. That's a good start. Next I look at the guests, and whether I'm a fan of the guests. Then I commit. You've got to listen to the whole episode and give it your full attention. Doing something mind-numbing like a menial chore works.

Some of my favourites are Never Not Funny (with Jimmy Pardo), Comedy and Everything Else (with Jimmy Dore and Todd Glass, although I think he quit recently), Comedy Death-Ray (with Scott Aukerman), and Stop Podcasting Yourself (with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka).

I keep going back, on and off, to all of these, depending on who's on. But one keeps me coming back every single episode: WTF with Marc Maron. Despite what you probably think, WTF doesn't stand for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Maron is a bit of an acquired taste and he's clearly not for everyone. But for my money, this is the best show on the internet. Why? Maybe because Maron doesn't try so hard. He's a confident conversationalist, albeit a self-centred one. He's funny when he needs to be but doesn't feel the need to always go for the laugh. He's intelligent. He's forceful. He's full of neuroses and anxieties. He's got a great voice. He's raw and honest and intense. He's curious, both intellectually and psychologically. And the show gets better each time out.

It also doesn't matter who his guest is. It's usually a comic (some of my favourite episodes have been with Zach Galifianakis, Doug Stanhope, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Brill, Jen Kirkman, and Andy Kindler) but not always. It's just as fascinating to hear him talk to a former junior high school friend who is now an astronomer, a music journalist or a musician. Each show starts off with a solo rant or rumination by Maron and usually ends with either a prepared bit. Not coincidentally, his show is one of the most popular requests on iTunes.

Maron was in town a couple weeks ago to tape an episode of The Debaters on CBC radio. I couldn't have him in the same town without trying to get him back on our little show. So I asked. No problem. He even let me use his fancy equipment instead of my rinky-dink iPod. So we sat up in his hotel room and rolled tape, the results of which will air tonight at 11 pm PST on 102.7 FM in Vancouver or via livestream here. And we'll let you know here when the episode gets posted to iTunes. Probably sometime next week.

If you heard WTF's episode 29 with Andy Kindler, you'll hear Maron talk about food waste. When you hear him on our show talking about the same thing, though, know that he said it there first. We just aired ours later. But if you stick around, we do get a scoop. Maron starts talking about his old pal Sam Kinison and tells us something he's never said in public before. I won't spoil it for you.

So tune in. And when you're done that, if you haven't already, go download some WTF episodes.

NOTE: The video bar there on the right should be clips of Maron's comedy. If you see rapsters doing their raps, try hitting the refresh button.


Anonymous said...

I miss Sam Kinison myself, interesting tidbit as to his inspiration for the ranting. Kind of get a sense of John Belushi in his "luck of the irish" piece for Saturday Night Live as well. Andrew Dice Clay? Not so much, but he was fun when I was in high school. In grade 10 I based one of my "Rifts" characters on him. Rifts is like Dungeons and Dragons only sci-fi. So... I don't know. Maybe there was a laser glued to the dragon's head? Didn't want to be too derivative though so I named my guy Andrew Rice Clay. You'll never guess how else he was different from the comedian :)


Anonymous said...

I tried to listen to podcast 175 for something interesting/fascinating/hilarious, even following your advice to commit, do a menial task and give it a chance.
The whole thing was cringe-worthy.

Guy MacPherson said...

You're talking about the Richard Lett episode? Either way, I was talking about other comedy podcasts, not ours!

Anonymous said...

I know.

Guy MacPherson said...

Why so anonymous, Anonymous? We're all friends here.

Anonymous said...

The internet can be a scary place at times. I'm no stranger to the appeal of anonymity, so far be it from me to deprive others. Anyway #175 was a little, ahem, "awkward" at moments. But I've been listening long enough to know that too is part of the exciting world of comedy ;)