Anger Management

Comedian Marc Maron’s late-in-life success has made him just a little bit less mad at the world

January 31, 2013
MarcMaron.BrianKelly

Stand-up comedian and podcasting king Marc Maron is still an angry person, but it’s getting tougher for him to be bitter about his career.

“There comes a point where you have to have some gratitude and some pride in what you’re doing,” Maron says. “Because if you just blast through that with your bitterness, or your self-pity or your spite, then there’s really no growth there.”

Maron toiled in comedy obscurity for years as a comic who was always ranting and raving about something. Then, in 2009, with his career in a rut, he started interviewing comedians in his garage. Over the course of more than 350 episodes, his “WTF” podcast, which averages nearly 3 million downloads a month, has gone from being essential listening for comedy nerds to essential listening for anyone interested in honest, engaging conversations with culturally relevant guests.

It’s also been a springboard for career opportunities Maron thought had passed him by. This year will see the release of his second book, the essay collection “Attempting Normal,” as well as the premiere of a half-hour scripted television series, “Maron,” on IFC.

Though Maron has acted before — most notably in small roles for the films “Almost Famous” and “Sleepwalk With Me” — the IFC show “is really my first shot” at having a television show, he says.

Much like FX’s “Louie” is based on Louis C.K.’s career as a stand-up, “Maron” is “based on my life as a podcaster who is sort of at the end of his rope and found this new medium,” Maron says. Unlike C.K.’s acclaimed series, you won’t see Maron doing stand-up on the show.

“Some of the stories are based around my personal struggles that manifest themselves in my life: with my father, with my girlfriend, with a dead possum under my house, with dating and whatnot.”

For Maron, writing scripts that could fit his personal stories into a three-act structure was a new challenge.

“TV writing is a little weird,” he says. “I had never done any of that. Some of it is very close to my life. Some of it is completely manufactured. I’m not making a documentary, so you use your story as a foundation and then fictionalize it.”

At 49, Maron finds his career in better shape than it’s ever been. So does that mean Maron is — gasp — happy?

“Honestly, I’m probably just as angry on a core level,” Maron says. “I just try to deal with it.”

Beyond Comedy

Lately, Maron has been talking with musicians (including Dave Grohl, Fiona Apple and Andrew W.K.) on “WTF” almost as often as comics. “The thing [comics and musicians] share is that we’re hanging our hopes and our lives on something that can provide no sense of security,” Maron says. “People who succeed at it are working against all odds.”

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW; Sat., 8 p.m.; $27.50; 202-408-3100. (Gallery Place)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Marc Silver · January 31, 2013