A Cooler Mind, Prevailing

Marc Maron brings hard-won perspective to his stand-up act

November 30, 2011

Marc Maron will be the first to admit he’s kind of a jerk. “That’s been a lifelong struggle,” says the 48-year-old comedian and podcaster. “For a good part of my life, I was an intense, somewhat defensive, boundless person.” It came across in his stand-up, which was fast, aggressive and full of rage. But after two divorces, nearly two decades sober and two years hosting his twice-weekly podcast, “WTF,” Maron’s mellowed a bit. “I’d rather talk about trying not to be a d–k, than actually being a d–k,” he says. His personal battles frequently come up as part of the opening monologues on “WTF.” If a rant is good enough, it makes its way into his stand-up. Which neuroses will arise during his four sets this weekend, at Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse, is anyone’s guess.

The “WTF” interviews with Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia, in which you addressed accusations that they stole jokes, have turned you into a comedy journalist of sorts.
I had no intention of doing that. I never thought of them really as interviews, I always think of them as conversations. Initially, I didn’t know what the show would be, so I reached out to people I knew who were funny or interesting — or both, usually.

Did you always have this ability to get people to open up?
It’s never really been that way for me most of my life, socially. I’m a pretty intense guy. I’m a little anxious. I’m a little guarded. But I don’t do that here in the garage [where “WTF” is recorded].

You read letters on the show from fans who say “WTF” has helped them be OK with who they are.
I think more than being OK, it’s that they’re not alone. I wouldn’t say being like me is the way to move through life, but being aware of yourself and knowing that you’re not unique in these feelings is a beginning.

Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington; Fri., 7:30 & 9:55 p.m. (9:55 sold out), Sat., 7:30 & 9:55 p.m. (7:30 sold out), $22; 703-486-2345.
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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