Editor’s Note: This is part three of a series of five articles exploring the rise of radical honesty in comedy, film and TV. In partnership with IFC and its new original comedy MARON, Indiewire has put together a list of our 25 favorite oversharers working today. MARON starts Friday, May 3rd 10/9c on IFC.
Marc Maron has made oversharing into an art form. The comedian, whose stand-up career has been punctuated with stints hosting Air America shows and “Short Attention Span Theater,” found an ideal online platform in podcasting. His semiweekly “WTF with Marc Maron” begins with Maron opening up about his life in intense, neurotic and very funny detail, discussing his professional insecurities, his relationship, his pets, his past addictions and more. There’s a vulnerability to these confessions that fuels the in-depth, candid interviews that follow, conversations with the likes of Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Dave Foley, Mel Brooks and more. Inspired by Maron’s new IFC comedy based on his own life, Indiewire is offering up our favorite other oversharers working in film, in comedy and in TV, a list we’ve been rolling out over this week. [#21 through 25] [#16 through 20] [#6 through 10] [#1 through 5]
15. Mike Birbiglia
Comedian Mike Birbiglia’s debut film “Sleepwalk With Me” is, ostensibly, a comedy about an aspiring stand-up dealing with girlfriend, career and, yeah, sleep disorder issues. But two words in the title of the book that helped inspire it — “painfully true” — evidence the hilarious honesty with which Birbiglia transforms his personal peccadilloes into public entertainment. The title, of course, goes back further than that 2011 book, to his 2008 one-man show. The evolution of that material has become Birbiglia’s calling card, although his 2007 album “My Secret Public Journal Live” was once named one of the best comedy albums of the decade. In both cases, he’s successfully mined his own life — or at least maintained the very convincing impression that he mined it — as an integral component of his creative process. And the openness with which Birbiglia chronicles his ambitions, experiences and perhaps especially foibles has created not just distinctive, engaging projects, but an intimate connection with audiences that makes them feel like they’re a part of his life, and just as importantly, that he’s a part of theirs. –Todd Gilchrist
14. Caveh Zahedi
After estranging himself from his idol (Jean-Luc Godard) due to a 3am phone call that went horribly wrong (when you call your personal hero, stoned and adoring, let’s be real — you can’t expect much of an outcome) Zahedi has utilized his certain socially awkward quirks and translated them successfully into his films. With a jarring sense of honesty, Zahedi is uncompromisingly frank about all the mundane aspects of his life. From 2004’s “Tripping with Caveh,” a 30-minute film whose title is no misnomer — it is actually all about him tripping out on mushrooms with singer-songwriter Will Oldham — to the following year’s “I Am a Sex Addict,” the tale of his personal struggles with sex addiction, prostitues and porn, Zahedi wields humor with a genuine sense of humanity that is endearing to the point of pathos, though cringe-worthy nonetheless. His most recent film, 2012’s “The Sheik and I,” was commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial but subsequently banned for blasphemy for its seeming lack of taste and cultural sensitivity. This is a project in which Zahedi was given the green light to do whatever he wanted, except make fun of the sheikh — can you really blame him for wanting to make a film that does exactly that? With a skill for gleeful tomfoolery, you have to admire the man for at least being in on the joke. –Fariha Roisin
13. Dan Harmon
For a show about a group of community college students, “Community” managed to feel, in its Dan Harmon-run years, strikingly personal, like it was an elaborately wrought product somehow scooped straight from its creator’s subconscious, an obsessive, funny and strange melange of quirk, elaborate pop culture citations and finely drawn, flawed characters. Fans knew it as Harmon’s because it was so clearly in his voice, one that he freely shared on Twitter, on his Tumblr, on his live show/podcast Harmontown and eventually an at times startlingly forthright Reddit AMA. “Community” felt like just another part of that ongoing conversation between Harmon and those who clicked with him, who got him, albeit one involving the participation of others, millions of dollars and a major media company. It’s also one that continues to run on NBC without his participation this year, and it’s hard not to feel that his being let go as showrunner of “Community” was due in some part to the unexpurgated nature of his communications to those who cared, including his playing of an angry voicemail from show star Chevy Chase during a Harmontown, a recording of which leaked to the press. Naturally, Harmon greeted news of his parting ways with the distinctive series he helped created with a fantastically honest post online. –Alison Willmore
12. Sarah Silverman
One of Sarah Silverman’s more memorable jokes goes, “I’m dating a half-black man and I know he’s going to dump me. Wait, I’m being pessimistic — he’s half-white.” There are only a handful of comediennes who would even attempt to cross that threshold into true unlikeability, transforming boilerplate relationship humor into a disquieting admission of racial insecurity. And yet with her pixieish voice and shark’s-grin delivery, Silverman remains oddly, indefatigably adorable, no matter how offensive her revelations are — on stage, or in the fictionalized version of herself she played on “The Sarah Silverman Program” (co-created by #13 on this list, Dan Harmon), where she amplified her cheery self-absorption to unforgettably comic levels alongside her real-life sister Laura and her real-life pet dog. But then again, her offenses almost always arrive with quotation marks around them, underscoring the fact that she’s not so much being brutally, ill-advisedly frank about herself than she is satirizing the particulars of morality, racism, religion, sexual politics, and any variety of other hot-button issues. In short, what she shares with her audience, and her fans, is the shock of fake honesty — which is ultimately where she, and they, find real truths. –TG
11. Charlie Sheen
The poster boy for “Hollywood crazy,” Charlie Sheen has shown a remarkable proclivity for overdosing on the overshare. Lest we forget, the catchphrase that was born from his all-too-visible midlife meltdown — the now notorious “winning” — even became an acronym, CSW (Charlie Sheen Winning), now used to characterize failure swag, aka the moment when your life is in the toilet. With a (now in the past?) penchant for porn stars and publicly prostelytizing his actions on any given interview (Piers Morgan, anyone?) what Sheen has lacked in propriety he’s made up for in defiance. He even managed to capitalize on the “Two and a Half Men” debacle by taking on a role in FX’s sitcom “Anger Management” that had everything to do with his recent reputation, even as he promoted the series in perfectly well-behaved fashion. Starring as the lead in his latest film, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” (a film written, directed and produced by Roman Coppola) it seems Sheen will gravitate towards whatever role reminds us that he really loves playing a diverse range of characters that in one way or another all end up just looking like good ol’ Charlie Sheen. –FR
Indiewire has partnered with IFC and its new original comedy MARON (premiering Friday May 3rd at 10pm). MARON explores a fictionalized version of comedian Marc Maron’s life, his relationships and his career, including his incredibly popular WTF podcast, which features conversations Marc conducts with celebrities and fellow comedians.
Learn more about MARON here.