Feature Interview

Marc Maron

Shawn Braley
This is a long-form interview I conducted with Marc Maron before he comes to Cincinnati to do Go Bananas from November 4th-7th

Check out gobananascomedy.com for more details, and learn more about Marc at marcmaron.com.

I love stand up comedy. I am not extremely well versed in the subtle nuances and differences between each comic, nor am I extremely familiar with very many classic comedy albums, but I do keep up with current stand up comedy and am deeply interested, yet currently still have much to learn, in the history of comedy and some of the greats and their routines.

A recent great, one many attribute the birth of alternative comedy to, is Marc Maron, a comedian who is often described as stream of consciousness. He is always relevant and honest and often described as using his stand up as a form of therapy.

I would like to say I was savvy to Maron’s work in stand up, but I had only known the man peripherally through seeing him on random episodes of Conan or Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. He never caught my eye back then. Where he did catch my eye was in a sheer moment of boredom, needing something to listen to when I drove that day, I downloaded Marc Maron’s podcast WTF. It had a wealth of interviews with established comics, so I downloaded 3 or 4 and listened to them and was hooked. The conversational tone of his interviews was refreshing and something I strive for, though feel as if I fail to achieve. He is able to get his interviewee’s to reveal things about themselves people don’t often hear from comedians or entertainers, at least not in such a frank way. The beauty of it is that Marc is doing it just to do it. He doesn’t have to do WTF, yet he does because he truly enjoys it and it comes across in listening to the show. You can feel the excitement he has to discuss an array of topics with many people that he has known for many years, but rarely get the chance to really get to know them.

Listening to WTF I am inspired, not only as a journalist, but also as a human being. Maron truly listens and responds to people and yet, I don’t often do that. Maybe he’s different in reality, but I’m not inspired by Maron’s reality, I’m inspired by his digital reality.

Going into this interview I was scared to death. It generally happens the day of, but the idea to conduct the interview came upon me rather late, and then I hesitated a little more, and then finally wrote him with the hopes of maybe just getting to talk to him before a show a little and post an interview after his shows in Cincinnati, but after a few exchanging of emails, promoting the show is always a good thing, and I, of course, wanted to help him with that. In any sense, I was frightened because I wanted to emulate the man’s style in a way, but due to my social awkwardness, or lack of eloquent wit, I know that a good interview for me only happens when I am extremely prepared, and I wasn’t. Or at least, I felt I wasn’t. I can never gauge my own preparedness because I am unaware how much I should be prepared, but to me, if there is something in the interviewee’s catalog that I cannot at least cite, in a sense, I have failed. Maron’s comedy is golden and I have watched many of his videos, read some of his (from what I’ve read fantastic) book, Jerusalem Syndrome, and listened to every episode of the man’s podcast. I don’t own his comedy albums, nor have I even heard them (yet). I don’t have a well-versed knowledge of his background, nor have I ever heard his shows on Air America, though I have seen many Break Room Live videos and read much about them.

Despite this, I went against my gut and called the man because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview Maron. Maybe I am not quite savvy to the man’s comedy yet, but I will be and at that point, who knows if I will get the chance to discuss things with him? And if I do get the chance, perhaps I can actually keep from stuttering and stumbling through it.

Mr. Maron, if you’re reading this, though I doubt you are, forgive me?

Here goes…

Marc Maron: Hello

AltOhio: Hey Marc

MM: Hey, what’s going on?

AO: It’s Shawn from Altohio.com

MM: Yeah. How ya doing?

AO: Good, you?

MM:I’m all right. I got to go out and vote here after this, but I will talk to you as long as you need.

AO: You just took my first question, if you had voted today.

MM: Yeah, I just have to go up the street and do it. It seems like where I have to vote is someone’s house.

AO: Someone’s house?

MM: I don’t know, it says a residence. Usually I vote at this other place. I guess for these elections, I don’t know, I gotta go to somebody’s house I think. I hope they’re home.

AO: (laughs) just show up and be like…uhh…

MM: Yeah, maybe. I don’t know what the story is. It says it’s a residence and it’s in the garage.

AO: I have to go to a church to vote, which I think is kind of fitting for the way politics works.

MM: Did you go?

AO: Not yet, I’m going after we’re done here too. But, how are you feeling about the election? Are you nervous?

MM: Yeah, I’m nervous. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. It amazes me how many stupid, uninformed people there are in general, and I’ll leave it at that.

AO: Are you saying that if they’re not believing in your particular ideology then they’re uninformed?

MM: No, no. I mean, look, there’s stupid people on both sides, but to disregard what’s gone on in the last couple years, not putting in perspective where we came from, and to be angry about things that are made up is ignorance, it’s beyond the pale. You can vote however you want, I’m not going to proselytize and tell people that they’re wrong in how they feel about things, but to disregard where we came from and where we are now, and to vote for people that are fucking idiots is reprehensible.

AO: So, when I approached you to do this interview, it wasn’t because I had been a fan of you for a long time or anything, I’m 23, I’m in school for English, and I’m doing journalism for Altohio. I stumbled up WTF and I’d seen you on television a few times, and I just can’t stop listening to WTF. I’ve listened to every episode, the Mencia one I even listened to twice. (In the Mencia episode, Maron confronts Mencia about the accusations of his stealing jokes and such. It turned into a two parter and is well worth being listened to by anyone even remotely interested.)

MM: You listened to the Carlos one twice?

AO: Yeah.

MM: What’d you find out?

AO: I was actually listening to it the second time to see how you went about that difficult subject, because personally, I have problems with confrontation, but if I’m a journalist, I need to be able to get past that. So, seeing how tough that was to handle, I liked the way you handled it.

MM: Well, I never really had done that either. I’m the same way as you. I just got myself in that position. I’d rather be diplomatic. I felt like that sort of came across. I think that what I was doing was saying, “C’mon”, ya know? I mean, this happened and it seems like, ya know? It’s not really like, “you’re a fucking idiot”. I’ve been more confrontational with other people than him. I think you just feel it out. You know, you have to basically say, “here are the facts, and you have to answer to these, I’d like you to answer these.” I think there’s a way to do it relatively decently.

AO: Do you would have done something like that had it not been on a podcast? If you would have just seen him in person, maybe you wouldn’t have investigated it, but would it have ever come up?

MM: I think that a lot of people have discussed it with him, which was really sort of the issue, everybody discussed it with him, and he still wouldn’t say anything. I think me being there and him choosing not to leave was different. There wasn’t anybody else around. But I think people had discussed it with him over and over. I don’t know that I would necessarily talk to him about it, but if I had been at the Comedy Store during all that and had I been invested in it; I mean, people confronted him about that shit all the time. Everybody that I talked to said that they’d talked to him about it. I was just trying to give him a little more space around it, and he just kept talking and I was hoping for some sort of real revelation around it, or a real confession, but I think that the unraveling in general, the struggle that he went through, and continues to cover up.

AO: I wanted to discuss a little bit of your stand up and let that lead into your run with Air America and how it all led to WTF.

MM: That’s a good way to go.

AO: From watching your past stand up and such, I can tell you’ve evolved on stage. I mean, you’ve always had this stream of consciousness style, as everyone describes you that way, but it seems like previously you were a little more jokey, maybe?

MM: I don’t know that it’s stream of consciousness as much as it is conversation. I do talk a bit, and I go, sort of, looking for things on stage, but I’m talking about something specific generally, and I put myself in a position to try to get a laugh in that moment. As these things evolve, as I repeat these conversations, certainly, the jokes unfold. In fact, my creative process has never been any different than it is now.

If I was any jokier at any point it’s because a lot of times what is required of you on television is fairly short form. You’ve got to trim the fat and find the jokes that can stand on their own in short form for a TV spot in order to accommodate that appearance. That’s usually what happens when I do any five to fifteen minute piece on TV. It becomes tricky to be conversational, so the jokes stand out a little more. But all the jokes come about in the same way.

AO: How do you feel your stand up has evolved over time then, if you’ve always had this conversational tone about you?

MM: I think that my ability to get into areas that I wouldn’t have tried for, there was a period in the beginning where I just wanted to get jokes out, then I went through a very aggressive phase where I was really in your face and very shocking, very cocky. Then I went through this sort of self-involved, bitter period, where I just insisted that everybody, if they would just look inside themselves, was exactly like me- unhappy. Now, I think that what’s really changed is my ability to draw from my experience and whatever wisdom, no matter how shitty it is, or whether it’s wisdom at all, I’m a lot more grounded than I used to be. I’m a lot more comfortable up there. I don’t have as much fear as I used to. My ability to explore and to let things be without panicking or getting angry is how I’ve grown as a person and a performer, and certainly the podcast has helped with that.

AO: Do you think growing as a person is the same as growing in your craft? Because all the ways you’ve just described evolving in your stand up is how someone might describe how they’ve matured as a person over the years.

MM: I think that if my material indicates anything it’s that there’s not much distance between me and my act- to a fault some times if I think about it. The way I work is if I get up on stage I can’t really tell you where the jokes come from. I just write down ideas. Like, I’m looking at a piece of paper right now with some things I wrote this morning, and it just says, “what you see as a lifetime as experience and wisdom, they see as a case against you that implies you’ll fuck them over.” Now, obviously, this is the beginning of some sort of relationship joke, but it’s not written as a joke. Then on the next page it just says, “Big brother, belief.”

Those are some areas that I’ve explored a little bit on the podcast and I’m going to explore a little when I come to Cincinnati, ya know, just about this idea of surveillance. It’s just a series of scribbles on pieces of paper that become, if I have the courage, conversations on stage, and then, just by nature of the fact that I’m a funny person, my hope is that, along with the beats I already have, when I enter the conversation on stage, just by nature of being up there and having the expectations on me, and my own defense mechanisms, that I will find something funny in the moment, and that’s how jokes are delivered to me.

AO: Yeah, I definitely read that you don’t write things down, and I’ve heard you say it before.

MM: It’s really an amazing moment for me. I wouldn’t wish this process on others. There are a lot of guys that do it like this, I mean, not many, but they have the same sort of tone I do where they’re sort of looking for something on stage and having that be a community experience for the audience. I have some jokes I’ve had for years that are now pretty well honed, but it’s very exciting for me to be in that moment. I’ve gotten some of my best punch lines in those moments. That’s why it’s exciting to me, because I’m not sitting there with a piece of paper, writing out jokes like a math problems. I mean, people would do monologue jokes, mainly joke writers would say these are equations or turns of phrase where you literally sit there and work them out like math- beat for beat.

That’s one skill. To me, I like it to be mystical. Where’s this joke going to come from? It’s going to be some combination of my discomfort, the expectations of an audience and whatever the fuck is bouncing around in my brain in that moment, and then it’s delivered. It’s very exciting for everyone involved.

AO: On your show, and this is something I hadn’t thought about with comedians, is how you guys talk about how often you’ll have a bad show or bad part of a show just because you’re trying these things out.

MM: A bad experience?

AO: Yeah.

MM: I don’t know if that’s really true. I mean, the Ireland show is the only one that comes to mind. Sometimes, and especially with the sets I do out here, obviously, when I go to Cincinnati I’m going to put on a show, we’re all going to have a good time, it’s going to be interesting, we’ll all go through some stuff together. But when I’m out here it’s just basically punching bag sets, just going to the gym, which means the Comedy Store or something like that, where I’m doing fifteen minute sets, where the challenge for me there is to really try to work that new material in. I don’t tell people I’m performing at those places. So those kind of shows can go either way, and the Comedy Store is it’s own thing and it can go either way in general, but you can’t be afraid to fail if you’re trying to work on something. That’s just the nature of the game. I just try to do that in a place where there’s not a lot of risk, and the expectations are different, they’re fifteen-minute sets. But generally I do better, my performances have been better than they’ve ever been, I feel better than I ever have. Even if it isn’t as funny as I want it to be, they’re generally always interesting.

AO: So, essentially, you’ll go to like the Comedy Store to hash out new jokes, but you work them out there, and then you take them on the road with you. You don’t really pound them out on the road though because then people are coming to see you with expectations and they’ll be disappointed?

MM: Well, yeah, that’s true, but I’d like something interesting to happen. I do a lot of work on UCB and also a lot of stuff I talk about on the podcast- that’s real stream of consciousness because there’s no audience, it’s just me talking to one person. There’s no pressure on me at all, I can totally free my mind. But I like these things to be fresh, like; this is a choice that I am making. There are a lot of guys that are really polished and people expect that from them and that’s a certain type of thing. But to be honest with you, a lot of people want me to be rough around the edges. I put a lot on the line emotionally when I perform, that’s just the way I am. I don’t like there to be much distance between me and the audience. I like when something happens at a show that will never happen again. So, yeah, I have plenty of honed jokes, and jokes that are already funny but I hope that they grow if something exciting happens during my show.

AO: So do you often, if you have a honed joke, and you want it to grow, you’ll be onstage and just think of something funny that might go along with said joke, you’ll just throw it out there and see how it works?

MM: Of course, I hope that happens.

AO: Going along with the evolution of your stand up and just your maturity in general. You often mention your resentment towards other comics who have achieved certain levels of success, like Jon Stewart or Louis C.K.. Have you always had a problem with resentment and seeing other people succeed, because I realize that’s a problem a lot of comics tend to have, and how…

MM: I think it’s a problem that everyone deals with. It’s human nature. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, ya know? And it’s a destructive force in life. It’s one of the things humans have been trying to manage for a long time. Oddly it’s also the same impulse that drives people to succeed. There’s a certain amount of envy that, if framed correctly, can be fairly healthy competitive juice. But there’s a type of envy that you turn on yourself. If you’re using your resentment or jealousy to beat the shit out of yourself and that, which is self-pity and bitterness, drives you, then you’re in a different position. So, wrestling with that thing, has been a life long challenge for me. It’s been somewhat debilitating at different points in my life. It basically growing to realize that somebody else’s success has nothing to do with you. You’re just seeing it as a way to judge yourself. I don’t think that’s unique to comedy, I think that’s a human thing.

AO: That reminds me of that joke that you made about Louis C.K. about like, “why did Louis name his show Fuck you, Marc Maron?”

MM: Yeah, and Louis and I have gone through that. And this is part of my personality and I think that the tone is just as honest. It’s really a selfish disposition that’s dangerous. I mean, if you do have friends, you want to be happy for their successes. You want to be proud of them. You want to be able to pat them on the back and not be threatened by their success. Jealousy is corrosive, it’s fucking malignant, and it will isolate you very quickly. So I can feel that I’m getting a little better with that.

AO: How have you grown past that? Because it’s obvious you’re getting better, you often bring it up on WTF, and generally discuss how you need to let it go.

MM: Right. I just realized, you might as well live your own life and not spend the rest of your life comparing yours to other people that you think are doing better than you or having the life that you’re supposed to be having. That grass is always greener thing. It’s like, there’s an old saying that Chris Rock sort of co-opted, but you know, when you see a beautiful girl or something, I don’t remember exactly how the phrase goes, but it’s like, somewhere someone is tired of fucking her, too. There’s this idea that the grass is always greener until you’ve got to mow it. Whatever is going on in your mind around that stuff is just a way to keep yourself unhappy. So, the idea of letting it go is just taking ownership of your own life, appreciating your own struggle and accepting it.

This is good stuff, but I don’t know how funny this is going to read.

AO: (laughs) In your interviews on WTF, do you feel like you have to hit this emotional or funny peak, like how with your stand up you sort of want a certain ratio of laughter, does that come into play at all on WTF?

MM: I’m finding that they’re all different. Engagement is what’s important to me. I don’t have to have some emotional menace or risk necessarily because some people aren’t willing to do that or it might not be in the cards for the conversation but if the conversation is engaging, I mean, you can only probe so much. I’m not talking to war criminals, I’m not talking to Enron employees, I’m talking to comics. So I’ve set some sort of standard where sometimes I talk to somebody and people will send me emails saying, “man, you should have grilled him about those shitty movies”. And, I don’t want to set up that particular standard. I think, at some point, if I can have an intimate, engaged, authentic conversation than I’m okay. So I kind of feel it out. Sometimes people are a little flat, and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sometimes I’m the only one that feels that.

AO: In listening to the podcast, it’s helped me, and other people from what I’ve seen on the Internet, become more open minded about some people that you’ve interviewed like Mencia or Dane Cook…

MM: What happened with the podcast, and this was no plan of my own, because the interviews are long form and they’re not specific to promotions or anything other than having a conversation with a comedian who I think, comedians have a lot of time to think about things, they’re usually sensitive, socially awkward people and they’re sort of built their own life, and taken a lot of risks, and they have a lot of thoughts on a lot of things; so they’re sort of philosophers and poets. They’d never call themselves that, but that’s just my belief, and they’re funny. So what happens over an hour’s time is that it’s really hard to escape who you are, being human or being genuine. So I think what happens with people who are villainized for whatever reason is that it becomes really hard, upon listening them in conversations, to detach from the fact that they’re people. It’s so easy as an abstract to hate a guys act, or hate a guy for what you heard he did or what he did do, without having their point of view on it, or hearing them talk about anything else, or just hearing them outside of their act. So, I think what happens is that people are sort of confronted with the person instead of the act or transgression that they’ve been accused of engaging in.

AO: So that wasn’t an intentional thing when you started WTF?

MM: I just wanted to talk. I obviously have a lot on my mind, and I wanted to talk to comics and find out what they were thinking. So it was really just about talking and being organically funny and conversational. The premise was never about funny, but just about being engaged in an authentic conversation. I didn’t sit down to write a WTF manifesto that included humanizing people that other people don’t like.

AO: So, going back to your stand up and shifting from that to Air America, what was it like doing that? Because, as far as I know, you weren’t any sort of radio personality before that.

MM: Yeah, I wasn’t a radio personality; I also wasn’t really a political comic. I was a broad reactionary social commentator or social satirist, I don’t know, whatever label works for you. I was not engaged in the nuances of legislation or American politics. Some people are into that like other people are into sports. I was just a guy that if something struck me as bullshit; I’d call it out. But all of that came from my own perspective and how I felt I was being victimized or fucked with. But because I had that opportunity, Janeane (Garafolo) reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be part of this, and my contempt for the Bush administration was enough that I thought I could handle it. It’s so nerve-wracking though, because it’s all very exciting and crazy at the beginning of that whole advent because they were trying to create a network. But I didn’t know anything about radio, and I didn’t even know that much about politics, I was just a standard reactionary angry comic. Now I was in a position where I had to be on a crew that did partisan political talk, and because of the support I had, also, I just wanted to be funny, I didn’t want to be Abbey Hoffman, although he was pretty funny. I just wanted to create comedy. I just got very fortunate that I got surrounded by incredibly intelligent people that knew a lot about politics and also I was surrounded by incredibly talented comedians and comedy writers because they had put a lot of money behind this thing. It was sort of a perfect storm. I think that, in Morning Sedition, we got some great political satire and great just stand alone funny shit, with all the characters and writers and stuff. It really affected people. I got emails today saying how people loved Morning Sedition.

AO: Did it influence your stand up having that experience on the radio?

MM: Well, it certainly influenced the way I handle the podcast and learning how to be on radio, being in front of that mic, it changed my life. I owe a great deal of gratitude to that opportunity. The way it’s changed me as a person, ya know, like, working with other people is something I’d never really done before- trusting other peoples opinions, utilizing their intelligence and creativity. Also, it helped broaden my perspective of politics, to be guided through the machinations of power. If you were to hold up a picture of John Cornyn, I could tell you who he was. I recognized Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the GOP and former campaign manager for Bush in 2004, on an airplane. I don’t know that most people could do that.

But I’m glad I got a way from partisan politics, because I think it ruins the humanity of stand up. It’s not so much that we’re all equal, which we are, but it’s more about, you don’t want to alienate half the audience if you’re point is about people. If you’re point is about politics then you’re specific, but your point is about people and what we all go through, which is what I think a comic should do.

AO: Do you think it’s a problem in America, the way we focus on partisan politics?

MM: I think clearly, that’s a problem. Because really it’s just a never-ending…there’s so much money and influence going into keeping people aggravated and separated and misinformed and it’s destroying our sense of communion that’s important as a country and a people in a country. I think it’s very hard for people to see past that shit because people don’t have the time and it’s very hard to understand that legislative democracy takes time. Also, you have to understand that if legislative democracy and government functioned properly it’d be a tremendous threat to unregulated, global capitalism. Never underestimate the role of unregulated, global capitalism to try and muck up democracy. I think democracy is already just a fucking bordello. Corporate interests in government are not really about government, it’s about using the government bureaucracy as a money laundering system. So then you have the people that have all the money trying to influence to people that just got to be governed. The amount of mind fucking that goes on is absurd. I don’t think people can protect themselves against that, not because they’re stupid but I think it’s because they don’t have time, they don’t know better and they watch somebody with a particular angle.

AO: But don’t you think that Air America was adding to that same “particular angle”?

MM: I think Air America, for the most part, is not so bad because corporations do not bring it up. There are people at Air America, it’s so hard to generalize what’s going on in terms of... it wasn’t a blanket thing. The personalities that you have there, ya know, Rachel Maddow turns out to be very sophisticated, very intelligent and very fair political scientist and tremendous media personality. I think if you listen to her or watch her now that you will learn something, whether you’re right or left. If you really listen to her, what she is trying to do, is explain to you how government works and what’s going on. Is she a lefty? Yes. Is she righteous? No, she’s not strident either. She’s a fairly decent journalist and a really brilliant political analyst that I don’t think bullshits that much, but the fact that she’s on the left is going to automatically demonize her to a lot of people. Then you get people like Randy Rhodes, ya know, a democratic pundit.

Is there bullshit involved? Sure. Are democrats just as to blame in terms of who fucked up what? Sure. But what you got to try and see is, right now, that people like Rachel, and people like Jon Stewart at the rally for sanity, and we learn that some point you have to appeal to people as people and you can’t demonize. We’re all in this together, this country has survived and this country has survived and legislative democracy, and the tension and debate that is supposed to occur there in creating legislation to help as many people as possible. That is still part of this system. At some point you have to turn down the noise and try to figure out how we can move forward as people with the common denominator that we’re citizens of this country, but it’s hard considering all the noise surrounding it. So, was Air America leftist propaganda? Absolutely. Does leftist propaganda come from the same place as right wing propaganda? Hell no.

AO: So going from Air America, with having this political agenda, and then you wanted to do WTF and I read that the genesis of that was you guys still had your passes to get into the Air America studio so you decided you might as well take advantage of it?

MM: Yeah, me and Brendan, who’s my producer, were like, let’s try it. This is the future of what we’d like to try and do and you don’t have to have an agenda. So we had the passes, and they didn’t take away our office, so we’d bring in people after hours into the studios and we posted probably the first ten episodes from doing that.

AO: Was Air America aware of this?

MM: No, they weren’t. They were so busy spiraling down the toilet, hemorrhaging money that we were able to bring, we had a friend on the inside and he was sort of the night watchman, and we weren’t doing anything that criminal, we were just using the facilities and bringing people up the freight elevator. Which is kind of funny because we had Stan Hope, Caroline Rhea, Janeane, Jim Gaffigan, Todd Barry, and we had to say, “ just text us when you get in the neighborhood and we’ll bring you up the elevator.” But there was a very passionate decision to get back into, like for myself, the relief of not carrying the burden of being a pundit, or more specifically a political comic, is that I can get back to what I really think, and cover issues that in comedy and in life like how do we really use our brains? How do we deal with the frustrations of despair and panic? How deal we deal with our relationship with our emotions with engaging in a world that’s becoming more and more complicated and alien to us? These things were human struggles and I decided to focus like I did before on Air America, on those things. So if I was personally affected or angry about something in politics I would discuss it. But it wasn’t any longer my job to do that.

AO: Do you realize, especially on your Mencia interview, how truly journalistic you’ve been and how refreshing it is in comparison to our current journalistic climate?

MM: I didn’t realize that at all. What I did realize is, I met with him for an hour, and I couldn’t use it because he bullshitted me and I’d already told people that I was interviewing him so there was a lot of expectation. There were a couple of weeks where I had that thing in the can and I was like, I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do with this. And, actually my buddy Al Madrigal, who’s a great comic and a good friend of mine, basically said, “You gotta talk to the Latino guys”. So I got a bunch of names and started making phone calls to guys that worked with Carlos. These are guys that no one really knows. This is outside of the George Lopez thing. I was forced to go talk to people who worked with him years ago, guys who opened for him, guys who knew him before he became what he was, and we settled on, after getting a little background, we had to get Carlos back in the studio or something to answer some specific things. But I didn’t think like, well what are my five W’s and things like that. I just wanted to do this objectively and sort of let things evolve naturally.

AO: So, after that do you have any intentions of doing it again or hopes for it to come up organically again?

MM: I mean, look, if the opportunity arises. I don’t know how the show’s going to evolve and I don’t know who I’m going to end up talking to, but generally it’ll be entertainers and writers and stuff. So I imagine, if the situation arises, and that was a fairly specific situation, but seeing that it did happen I do seem capable of doing that again. It would be interesting to engage in that again. I’m certainly not going to close the door on that if the opportunity arises I’ll certainly take it.

AO: I’ve read you explain WTF as being a very unique podcast, with that frame of mind, how do you think you differ from say Adam Carrolla or Greg Fitzsimmons, who also seem to do long form interviews with entertainers?

MM: I don’t know, I mean, that’s on you. I don’t listen to a lot of other people. I’ve been on Adam’s show but I can’t tell you that I’ve listened to his show. And I’ve been on Greg Fitzsimmons show and I’ve had him on my show, but I don’t listen to them. I generally listen to NPR and music. I’m very busy, I don’t find myself listening to a lot of people, and so I’m not one to judge. It seems to me that Adam is fairly conversational but he doesn’t get to deep, he didn’t with me, but he seemed to running a good show over there. He’s a radio personality and a good storyteller. My experience with Greg is different, he seems to try and argue even if there’s no argument to be had and he seems to be doing something where he’s being provocative just to be provocative and cause tension just to cause tension and that’s a style of radio that he’s chosen to engage in. So, that was my experience with him, but in terms of being able to compare myself, I haven’t really listened to them so I can’t say. So, you’ll just have to use your opinion on that.

AO: You have a specific quote; it’s even on your site, where you say, “the most important philosophical question used to be; what’s the meaning of life? Now, I think it is; how am I being used and am I okay with it?” how do you answer that?

MM: At this point, I’d like to say my thinking around that quote at the time is everybody has to make compromises to get what they want, in more cases. I think that generally, you’re not going to get money until you make someone else money and start helping the machine move forward. So that was really about what compromises am I willing to make, and what compromises can I live with in order to be happy. I think that’s a question that everybody asks in one-way or another.

At this point in time, it’s me and my partner, Brendan, putting out an entertainment product that we have complete control over and complete freedom over. So, that question becomes different, because it’s really like, what are people’s reactions to my podcast? They’ve been very deep, there’s a lot of them and people seem to get a lot out of it on a lot of levels; emotional, psychological, entertainment, and people have been very engaged and excited about it. They probe it. They’re very loyal to the podcast, and that’s fine to me. I’m very grateful to be used like that.

AO: So you’re saying with WTF, it’s not meant to be a promotion of anything, but would you consider it to be a promotion for you and your stand up, or would you just consider it another part of your stand up?

MM: I just consider it it’s own thing. If people get to know me through the podcast and they want to see me do stand up that’s great, but I really look at the podcast as it’s own thing. I never got into it for promotional purposes. I love the form of radio and audio. I think there’s a lot of freedom there. I really see it as it’s own thing and I’m just glad people like it and if because of that they want to come see me then I’m very happy because I’ve been around a long time, and I like knowing that people are going to come see me. At least, I didn’t ever see it as a promotion for me. I did it to explore the form.

AO: Do you find comfort in the safety of a structured conversation like an interview? Because, I know personally, and you’ve said this before, you don’t just have hour long, one on one conversations everyday. Whenever I do interviews, I’ll have these deep discussions about things and then after I leave and deal with other people it’s sort of disappointing in a sense.

MM: I don’t find I’m disappointed with reality, I do find that the energy and focus required to engage is pretty daunting sometimes and if I do a couple interviews in a day I’m pretty exhausted. I’m just excited it happens. I don’t go in with much structure and that makes it even more exhausting. My only disappointment is that sometimes there are things you should talk about with certain people that because I don’t do thorough enough research or I’m not looking to talk to them about that, but sometimes, after that interview I realize I should have. A lot of times I’ll talk to someone for an hour and we’ll have an experience, then we’ll turn the mics off and they’re getting ready to go and they’ll be like, “oh, there was this one time…” and I’m like, “holy fuck, let’s sit back down. Turn the mics back on, we gotta get that.”

AO: So you actually do turn the mics back on and get more?

MM: Absolutely, if I can.

AO: When I said a structured conversation though, I didn’t mean you constructed it tediously, but I mean where someone has to sit there and…

MM: Yeah, we’ve dedicated the time for it. We’ve allotted this time.

AO: Because I know in the interview with Maria Bamford, she said she liked it because it was safe and structured.

MM: Well, we were in a car; she wasn’t going to jump out of the car at 50 mph.

AO: (laughs) true. I guess, if that’s what you gotta do, you just get them in the car or your garage and they can’t really just leave.

MM: Yeah, because if they do leave, that’ll always be there. But again, I’m not talking to war criminals; I’m talking to comedians. And that one with Maria was a real special one because I don’t how I would have talked to her any other way and it being that comfortable. I’ve known her a long time and I could never see, being in the garage, with that sort of pressure on her, it just wouldn’t have been the same, because she would have been too self conscious. So it just worked out that I had to give her a ride.

AO: Do you find that little things just work out like that sometimes?

MM: Well, not always. There are a couple interviews that I’ve done on the road in hotel rooms. I’ve had some pretty good experiences in hotel rooms with people. David Wain, I just ran into him at a coffee shop and was like, “you wanna come back to my hotel room and do this?” and he said yeah, and that worked out really well. Mike Birbiglia was done in a hotel room. Louis, when I was finally able to get him on, I ended up going to his house, and there was a certain level of comfort. It could go either way. There’s just something weird about hotel rooms. Holding a mic in a hotel room is sort of a no man’s land, but the studio has certain requirements. My garage is sort of my turf and it’s a unique situation. Going to someone’s home is also good because of the comfort level there. Yeah, so it’s sometimes surprising, but it’s always good when both people are our of their world or when somebody’s definitely entrenched in their world. But the whole fact that we’re never really doing it in any sort of studio I think helps with it.

AO: You’re on tour right now right? I know you’re home right now, but are you going out every weekend for shows?

MM: No, in the next couple weeks I am, and I’m going to do some things at UCB and in Brooklyn. Starting next year it looks like I’m going to be out a lot.

AO: Okay. I wanted to ask some more questions about Cincinnati, but I can’t particularly think of anything specific. Is there anything specific you wanted to say about coming to Cincinnati?

MM: I’ve been there once before and I’m really excited to come back because two things happened to me there that I’d like to remedy. The first time I got booked out there was when I was on Air America, and there was a big expectation, due to the radio, that it was going to be this huge show and it really wasn’t. I was disappointed. At that time, whoever was booking the club was disappointed. And then, I was booked there again, and the week I was supposed to go out there was the week my wife left me and I was an emotional wreck so I cancelled. I didn’t know if I could go because I didn’t want to just break down on stage. So I’m hoping that this trip will make up for those two trips.

AO: And those were at Go Bananas as well?

MM: They were both at Go Bananas. We did do Cincinnati or somewhere close when I toured with Kindler and Mirman, so that was okay. But I’m just hoping that this is a good experience for the audience and me. I owe it to myself and Cincinnati to have a good time there.

AO: Well, I’m kind of drawing a blank on what else to ask but I know there’s so much more to ask.

MM: Alright man, well, we covered a lot of stuff and if you have any follow up questions just call me later.

AO: Alright, well I’ll see you at Go Bananas this weekend.

MM: Introduce yourself.

AO: Definitely. Thanks, Marc, for taking the time out of your day, and good luck voting.

MM: Thanks buddy. Bye.