STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Marc Maron (Interview)

marc maron

Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Marc Maron’s comedy career. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

This week in Stand-Up Tuesdays, we celebrate the premiere of the much-awaited second season of IFC’s Maron, which has quickly become one of my favorite shows currently airing. With the release of his second book, Attempting Normal, on paperback and his latest special, Thinky Pain, on vinyl, comedian Marc Maron is having a pretty good month – whether he’d like to admit it or not. Maron took the time to chat with me about the show’s new season prior to last week’s premiere.

UTG: How are you, Marc?

MM: I’m doing well, doing well. Excited for season 2 to start.

UTG: I bet you are.

MM: I am, can’t wait to see it. I mean, it’s crazy, that you do all of this work, and now you’re not doing that work anymore, and you’re just waiting for it to sort of be revealed to everybody else.

UTG: Yeah, that’s got to be a little frustrating to play that waiting game.

MM: I don’t know, I don’t feel frustrated. It’s just that this sort of pacing that you operate at when you’re shooting a show, on the budget that we were shooting at, is crazy. So from right when the writing begins all the way through to production, which is like six months’ time, you’re just in it. And you can’t look back. For me, being producer, writer, and a performer, who’s in every fucking scene really, you know, you’re completely consumed. And then all of a sudden it just stops, and within a week or so you’re in post, and then you’re editing. It’s just, it’s an insane process, and then all of a sudden you’re done. And then it’s just sort of like, okay, I don’t even know what just happened. I know we made 13 episodes of television, but I can’t remember anything right now.

UTG: What would you say was the most difficult aspect of the whole process?

MM: Well, when I did the first season, I had not done anything ever like that. I’ve never written for television, and I’d certainly not acted in that capacity. I can honestly say I never really did much acting, and I certainly haven’t been involved as a producer. So for that first season it was sort of like just be humble and be willing to learn and work with others and trust others and show up and be the best you can. This season, having had the experience and having watched the first season and sort of learned from the process on all levels, both as a writer and as a performer, I went in with a little more confidence and a little more room to be aware of things and take a little bit more control of things as an actor and as a writer with less panic. There’s even more trust with the people I was working with, in that we pulled it off before, so there was just a little bit more room for me to kind of make more competent decisions about things and just sort of take a little more time to think about the performances, the writing and also about, you know, just bringing in a couple new writers and working with them, and creating new parts. I don’t know, it was just a lot more fun the second season, and I think there was a little more knowledge of how we were able to look at me as a character and look at the world as a place where we can make things happen.

In the first season, I was very insistent on almost capturing parts of my life almost directly and thinking that I had to do it exactly the way I do everything else, which is, with this sense of realism, though it was always a little fictionalized. But this season, we were able to sort of look at the world and look at my character and make some more creative decisions about creating stories and creating events and really having faith in the world, and having faith in knowing what the character of Marc is in the show. I haven’t even sort of assessed that. I said, what is this guy? What defines this version of me? Whereas, I think in the first season, I was just showing up as me and acting as me. This season, there’s certain elements of my personality that I was able to sort of amplify a little bit because it’s not my life, it’s 22 minutes: it’s a 22 minute three-act story, you know, that this character, that is me, moves through. So I had a little distance, and that distance enabled me to, I think all of us, to be a little more creative and a little more confident about the process.

UTG: Do you find that there’s a little bit of room to take more risks with your character?

MM: Well, there’s definitely scenarios where a lot of them are still really culled from my life. The foundations of most of the stories are still definitely rooted in events of my life, but certainly some of them go in a much different direction. So yes, there’s definitely risks with my own sort of willingness to be the brunt of the joke. My own willingness to be sort of like vulnerable in a way. It was definitely some risks in a lot of different ways this season. I think the risk of the first season was sort of revealing these relationships in my life that were mildly fictionalized and emotionally real. I think we did that again this time. But I also put myself in positions as an actor and as a character to really sort of take some hits and wrestle with things that were a little difficult. So yeah, there was definitely a little more risk taking story-wise this season.

There’s some great stories, there’s some great guest stars. The other thing that I was able to sort of do this season was like, my biggest fear from last season was that we wouldn’t finish writing the scripts before we started shooting. And being one of the writers and sort of the de facto head writer in a way, because I have the final say on how any of these scripts are going to work, I didn’t want to be dealing with re-writes when we were shooting, because it’s just impossible. Because if we’re shooting 9-15 pages a day and it’s on me, then I got to be in that. I can’t be re-working scripts at lunch. It’s just too crazy.

UTG: Right, right.

MM: But we were able to break the story fairly quickly and really get almost all the scripts done by the time we started shooting which was pretty amazing.

UTG: That is. That’s almost unheard of to get that.

MM: Yeah, it is actually.

UTG: So I see you’re going back out on the road, which is exciting.

MM: A little bit.

UTG: Nothing full-fledged.

MM: Right now, I’m just trying, I was going to go out bigger, but I burned an hour-and-a-half with stuff that you had seen before, I guess. And I got to start from fucking square one the way I sort of build things, it’s just like me having to sort of book out small theaters here in L.A. just to kind of ramble for an hour, so I can try to find it. I’m still sort of finding it, so I’m not doing any theater gigs. I’m doing a few club gigs, and I’m just trying to find it. And I just got to let myself take the time necessary to do that. You get caught up in this weird wheel of like, you got to get back out there, you got to get an hour, and it’s like, yeah, I guess I do, obviously I do, it’s not something you can really rush. And it’s not like I’m some sort of million dollar act. No one’s out there going, ‘What the fuck? How come Maron hasn’t?’ It’s like there’s plenty of Maron out in the world right now.

UTG: Oh come on, could there ever be enough.

MM: Yeah. Maybe not. I don’t know.

UTG: Congratulations on the paperback.

MM: Thank you. Yeah, the cover, it looks better.

UTG: I saw that picture on your site. That was hilarious.

MM: It was just an astounding moment that whole thing.

UTG: I’m glad they went back and changed it.

MM: Well, yeah, it was just a creative process. It was just hilarious to me that that was just their first big idea. But I’m happy that it’s out there. You know, maybe people will pick it up. And I got Thinky Pain that’s going to be released on vinyl and CD and digital downloads in May through Comedy Central records. Thinky Pain is out there as a DVD. It’s good, it’s like, the weird thing about me, and I told you this before that, you know, so many more people don’t know me than do, and it’s a weird thing in the world that we live in through social media platforms or whatever, that you put yourself out there in every way. But you get a sort of delusional sense of perception, because there’s part of you that thinks, well, how do you not know me. It’s like, well, how are they going to know you. Unless you sort of have some kind of weird cultural momentum that you’re on a major network or just something, you’re just one of those people. When you’re working where I’m working, it’s sort of fascinating because the first season of ‘Maron’ went up on Netflix. And I was getting emails and tweets of people saying, how did I not know who you were.

UTG: Oh, that’s wonderful.

MM: It’s amazing. But of course, that’s the way it is. Because if you really think about it, so what, I’ve got 350,000 Twitter followers that I’ve amassed over many years. And my show is on a network that on a good night, has numbers comparatively to larger networks. We’ve been very small, but it is what it is. So there’s still millions and millions of people that I’m completely off their radar. So when I start to think like how, am I getting redundant, the truth of the matter is, is no. Because we’re got thousands of people coming here discovering the podcast now.

UTG: Right.

MM: And thousands of people just discovering my work now. So it’s just a very weird thing. You get insulated in the media universe in that week we’re in, and this whole dealing with comedy and stuff, there’s just different tiers to notoriety.

UTG: Definitely.

MM: Yeah. And one of the best things, because I’m very hard on myself, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, everybody’s already going to know this stuff or whatever,’ and everyone’s going to have to book. But most people don’t.

UTG: I know, and that’s something obviously that I take for granted as, my own knowledge base of comedy versus just your average person on the street.

MM: Exactly, it’s just the weirdest thing, because if you really think about it, it’s ours, it’s our life, that we live in it. But most people are like, ‘you’re just another entertainment option in a world of fucking entertainment options’. We live and breathe it every day, but most people are like, ‘All right I’ve got an hour before work and I can Tivo some stuff.’ So you’re really fighting for recognition and time, of like a 3-hour chunk in a regular person’s day. You know what I mean?

Don’t miss season two of ‘Maron’ as it airs each Thursday at 10:00 ET on IFC, and be sure to snag yourself a copy of Marc Maron’s ‘Thinky Pain’ on vinyl!

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