Marc Maron's record 38 Conan appearances are a testament to his ability to be consistently funny, intelligent, and engaging. It's this ability that's landed him two Comedy Central Specials, multiple programs on Air America, and appearances in clubs nationwide, including Comix on October 12th and 13th. And while credits and portions of Maron's own quips may hint at his talent, the best way to get a taste of Maron is to visit MarcMaron.com, where you can watch any of his 38 Conan appearances and several uncut and uncensored full-length stand up performances.
You're going to be in town on the 12th, so I imagine you're going to be doing some radio. How do you feel about the morning zoo experience?
You just start to understand all of these things as a means to an end. I hosted a morning show for a year and half and I liked being funny on the radio, but when it comes to morning zoos, if it's redundant and adolescent I have very little patience for it. Radio is great because it's very intimate. It's just you and whoever's listening. My experience on morning zoos is that if you get into the moment and just talk, it can be great.
A lot of them have a fart fixation.
True. And they've got nicknames like The Gasman, or Jack and the Douchebag, where the sidekick is always making noises.
Do you think farts can be funny if properly employed or are they just hack?
I think it's just a human reality. They're surprising, so I think people will always get a kick out of them. If you're at a yoga class or a public place and someone farts, I've never seen it not get a laugh. It's just a weird, discomforting, vulnerable moment that some people have no control over. I don't think they're never going to not be funny, but that doesn't mean that you should use them for that. If a fart happens in the wild, it's funny. If it happens on purpose it's overused.
Another staple of doing any comedy club is the annoying and unwanted bachelorette party. How do you deal with them?
I don't like them. I don't understand why they go to comedy clubs, so I go out of my way to be fairly abusive and discourage them from marrying whoever they're going to marry. I find it unnerving when you're doing a show and have developed material that you want to share with people who are either like-minded or attentive and instead you have to baby sit a bunch of needy women who are there just to have their friend be made a full of to drain focus from the audience. I just think it's rude and they should go somewhere else.
What do you usually say to them?
I'm just abusive. I ask, "Are you sure that you want the same cock for the rest of your life?" I try to find out who they're marrying, what she does, what he does, de-construct it, and then make her feel bad for even coming to a comedy club and, hopefully, feel bad about the person they're marrying. And then, of course, you try to get them to want you after you abuse them for fifteen minutes, but maybe that's just my approach.
Have you been able to win them over after abusing them for so long?
I guess, but I don't even care. I just don't understand why they're there, so I give them attention, but I resent the fact that I have to, so it's not the good sort of attention, but because they keep going to clubs I have to assume that that's what they want.
Have you ever had a show end with a physical confrontation?
Yeah, some guy once jumped out of the crowd and tackled me because I pissed him off somehow. It was weird because it was an alternative comedy venue. Sometimes I can be pretty irritating and I just got under this guy's skin and said, "That's it," flew out of the audience and came up onstage. I was the last guy and I knew that I couldn't run because that would be no way to close the show. I'm not a fighter, so I just stood there and waited for him to make a move. He didn't seem to know what he'd do, so he just tackled me and we started wrestling, beating on each other, then the crowd dispersed, and finally people pulled him off of me. Thank God I was the last comic because that really would have hurt the follow-up.
Did you smell liquor on his breath?
I think he was hammered. He'd crossed a line, obviously. That's a very aggressive breaking of the fourth wall from the other side.
Was that your worst audience experience?
That show was actually going pretty good up until that point. Many years ago, I was sent home from Australia for bombing badly. This was back when I was just starting out. When you get sent home from a country, you know it's bad.
Have clubs changed at all since you've started performing?
Most comedy clubs are like the land that time forgot. Comix in New York, though, is a very modern and great club. Clubs haven't changed very much, though. It's still just one person with a microphone. I find that it's better in a basement when the ceilings are low and when the crowd is tight up against the stage and a certain level of intimacy can be achieved. If it's like that, then I don't care what it's called or whose pictures are on the wall as long as the sound system's good, the ceilings are low, and the intimacy is there.
You've lived in New York in the past. Was there a particular experience that stands out in your mind as the strangest?
I saw a guy get on the subway with a saxophone and play horribly and very loudly for what seemed like a long time and he was literally playing that way only so people would stop. As soon as he got the money, he stopped and went to the next car.
What would it take to bring you back to living in New York?
I don't know. I spent a lot of years living there. I think it would just take a decent job in show business and a one-bedroom apartment down town?
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?
I'd bring back the filth and all the working people who made the city interesting. Then I'd push out all the people who own apartments but don't live in them and bring back rent stabilized apartments so the city can have some class diversity so it feels like an organic living thing where people walk their kids around.
Which New Yorker do you most admire?
Lou Reed keeps coming to mind.
What do you consider to be a perfect day of recreation in the city?
Back in the day, in the fall, I used to like to start walking down the lower east side. I'd like to go to The Strand Bookstore and Mojo guitars when it was open. Then maybe go to the west village and have an espresso and then just walk around SoHo. The perfect day is, if the weather's right, to just walk around all the downtown neighborhoods and feel it.
What are some projects that you're currently involved in or contemplating?
I'm trying to put together a new hour about love and relationships because I'm in the middle of one falling apart and it's having a profound affect on me. I'm also in a deal with HBO to develop a half hour pilot script for myself and I'm writing that with Jerry Stahl. I'd really like to get back into the public mind, via TV or radio. I just write my things, share my philosophy, tell my jokes, and I'm just trying to be okay with that.