Editor’s Note: This is part four 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] [#11 through 15] [#1 through 5]
10. Philippe Garrel
A post-New Wave French filmmaker whose work has, until recent years, struggled to secure U.S. distribution may look a little out of place in this comedian-dominated crowd, but Garrel has been making intensely personal and frequently autobiographical films since before some of the members of this list were born. The best example may be 1989’s “Emergency Kisses,” which found Garrel essentially starring as himself, playing a filmmaker trying to make a feature about his own home life with his father and his five-year-old child making appearances and his then-partner Brigitte Sy battling to get the role of herself. The director cast Benoît Régent as his stand-in in his next film, “I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar,” but the story was a barely veiled one about Garrel’s turbulent real-life relationship with Nico, with the apparently dauntless Sy again taking on the role of herself, pretty much, as the more stable woman the protagonist goes on to marry even though he’s uncomfortably haunted by his past relationship. Now that Garrel’s son Louis is grown and an established actor in his own right, it only makes sense that he’s become his father’s ideal, go-to leading man in his continuing introspective oeuvre. –Alison Willmore
9. Howard Stern
In 1997, the gangly radio show host did (perhaps) the most shocking thing in a career peppered with political incorrectness, bad taste and bathroom humor: he convinced movie audiences that he’s completely misunderstood and, somehow, garnered empathy from those who helped make it number one at the box office its opening weekend. In “Private Parts,” a fun and mostly solid biopic/comedy adapted from Stern’s memoir of the same name, it was hard to deny that the self-proclaimed “king of all media” was anything other than a big softy, a romantic at heart. After all, the film takes great pains in showing the importance of Stern’s relationship to his wife, Alison (wonderfully played by Mary McCormack). Two years later Stern announced his decision to separate from his spouse; soon after they divorced amicably. Was “Private Parts” all a ruse? Tough to say, but the film feels earnest and heartfelt despite its vulgar tone and humor. Regardless, Stern continues to prove on his radio show (where several others on this list have appeared and dished about their lives) and other ventures that he will always bring the truth, skewed mostly by his personal foibles. –Erik McClanahan
8. Joe Swanberg
The thing about what Joe Swanberg shares is that you don’t want it to be true. With 14 films under his belt (possibly 15 by the time you’ve finished reading this piece), he’s the embodiment of tenacity and creativity, and yet what many audiences have taken away from the work itself is that Swanberg’s priorities as a director include getting actresses naked and pretending to have sex with them. His pioneering approach, labeled “mumblecore,” has also been mistakenly dismissed as amateurish, thanks to his shaggy, improvisational writing and directing style, which lends credulity to the arguments of viewers who equate his interpretation of emotional nakedness with simply exploiting the physical. But the greater truth of his films is that they operate at an utterly relatable level — rough edges, found moments, unvarnished insights — and even if the director’s technique isn’t polished, the effect is poetic. His revelations, which as he’s grown older have gone from ones about dating to marriage to filmmaking itself, have a way of reflecting more clearly, and yes, perhaps more critically, upon our own thoughts and feelings. And it’s that gamut of humanity, from sublime to prurient, which we share, whether or not we want to. –Todd Gilchrist
7. Larry David
Even the most casual “Seinfeld” fan knows that George Costanza is a thinly veiled, portlier version of Larry David. But the connection goes deeper than just being bald, schlubby and defiant of social norms. Plot lines for the show were taken directly from David’s life. In season two’s “The Revenge,” Jason Alexander questioned — during production — the motives of a man who would quit his job only to show up days later as if it never happened. The actor couldn’t imagine anybody would do such a thing. David, who wrote the episode (the first he took on himself), told his thesp doppelganger that he in fact did this once, at “Saturday Night Live” no less! All too often, in Larry David’s televised world, be it the famous “show about nothing” or HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you’re seeing an amalgam of real-life moments and situations refracted through his hilarious, curmudgeonly and sometimes frighteningly agreeable perspective. As wonderfully silly as “Curb” can be, there’s a real sense of meta commentary going on, the ne plus ultra being in season six when Larry and Cheryl (played by Cheryl Hines) split up. This just so happened to come out in 2007, when Laurie David, the comedian’s real-life wife, filed for divorce. –EM
6. Margaret Cho
The short-lived sitcom “All-American Girl” ended up being a pivotal event in comedian Margaret Cho’s career. What initially looked like a big break for the up-and-coming stand-up comedian turned into a nightmarish experience. Under enormous pressure from racist, sexist, avaricious network executives, Cho began to lose weight to a degree that caused life-threatening health problems, as did accompanying drug and alcohol addictions. Then, on top of everything, the show bombed. On the other hand, the reason all the above, aside from the show’s early demise, is known is because Cho bounced back with a book and accompanying stand-up special “I’m The One That I Want,” which led to several other similarly person projects. The hellish experience with her sitcom, as well as that of living life as a queer Korean-American San Franciscan progressive, has given Cho no shortage of material. Her stand-up shows are a vividly intimate experience, and while the way Cho presents herself is frequently (intentionally) unflattering, it’s nothing if not completely honest. Which is more important, anyway. –Danny Bowes
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.