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Marc Maron on His New IFC Show 'Maron,' Podcasting and When Making Himself Uncomfortable is a Good Thing

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire April 26, 2013 at 12:29PM

Marc Maron worked as a comedian for years before he became the internet's favorite podcaster. A regular figure in the alt comedy scene as it came into ascendance in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, a repeated guest on Conan and Letterman and a personality on the late Air America Radio, his career had stalled out by 2009, when he found a new outlet for his sui generis voice.
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Denis Leary and Marc Maron in 'Maron'
Katrina Marcinowski/IFC Denis Leary and Marc Maron in 'Maron'

The first episode has you confronting an internet troll who picks a fight with you on Twitter, actually tracking him down.

That's based on a real story. Most of it took place online, but that happened. The way that I figured out who he was exactly was the way I portrayed it in the show. I got in a dynamic with that guy for months around his comments he made about me on a blog and on Twitter. I did track him down and I did go at him for a long time, but he seems okay now. It was a weird thing.

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It was interesting to see how that confrontation was portrayed -- a lot of times people who are really aggressive online back down immediately in person.

That is true, eventually they do. But that wasn’t the case that I experienced in real life, and I think that the way we went in the show was the better way to go. You would assume that this type of person would back down, but the fact that there was many of them and there was no backing down I think got us a lot more comedy.

How much do the guests in each episode guide the theme? Did, say, Denis Leary or the idea of masculine identity come first?

The idea came first. Then it was a matter of casting the right person to play that ultra male role.

Did your guest stars have input in how they wanted to be portrayed in the show, since they're frequently playing themselves (for the most part)?

No, I wrote that thing for Dave [Foley, who appears in the first episode]. And I know those guys. The guys that have had a part in the narrative as far as [Jeff] Garlin, or Foley, or Leary, you have someone with a public persona you can write for pretty easily. The podcast moments, a lot of those are pretty loose. We know where we want to go but if there is any improvising in the show, it’s in those moments, whether in conversation with somebody or with someone else.

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Ken Jeong gets incredible charge out of playing himself. He played himself in the pilot and was excited to do it again because he's always cast as the kooky Asian guy. He was like, "I love doing this, I never get to play me." With everyone else there was never really any conversation or issue around what to include.

Any autobiographical comedy TV project at the moment seems bound to be looped in with "Louie." You and Louis C.K. have a history together and you were on the show last season. Was this something you had to contend with while working on "Maron"?

Well, that's what a troll culture does. It tries to pit things against other things with some sort of comparison. But we knew that it would probably happen. We were fortunate on some level that Louis was taking a break -- I also talked to him and he was very supportive and excited about my show. When it comes right down to it, not many people are bringing it up because there is not all that much to compare.

The establishment of comics blatantly playing themselves as comics on television is relatively new since "Seinfeld," and that's what Louis does. Comics on television asserting their comedic voice is certainly not unusual. It's been going on since the beginning of television. Louis and I share a profession and we share a single camera format. Outside of that, they're very different shows. I honestly believe that. I had some fear about it, but we're episodic, we're story-driven, I'm not doing stand-up in the show and my life is very different from his.

"Comics on television asserting their comedic voice is certainly not unusual."

Your appearance in that episode of "Louie" last season seemed to pull so much from the interview you did with him on "WTF." Can you tell me a bit about that?

I don’t know. He and I have knew each other forever and we have a certain way we engage with each other. It's gotten better now, since my podcast. I think his idea to do it the way he did it, which was on my podcast, which was a reality frame, I was the one who owed him an apology. And on his show, I think that was his apology. That was very true to him as a person, to have that kind of like "Oh, I've got to do this. I already did it? Now I'm still not going to talk to you for five years." Which wasn't completely out of character for him, so I guess we both apologized to each other in our respective mediums.

What can we expect from the character over this first season? Does he have an emotional journey to go on?

As things start to work out a little bit more, he comes to terms with this existence, meets a girl, a younger woman, after going on several dates with different types of women over the course of the show. It's a difficult relationship that starts in a very weird way, but he chooses to ride it out. There's some love at the end, and we'll see how that goes.

Going into the show, were there specific influences in film or TV you looked to? Who were your guys?

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It's weird, people ask me that about interviewing and ask me that about this -- I don't know. TV direction is different from film direction, I've learned. But not unlike the podcast, it's about being as true to myself as possible. My journey as a comic has always been to find myself, above being an entertainer and everything else. So I think my real journey with the TV show was to be as true to myself as possible, and I feel like we accomplished that.

Outside of that, I visualize the same sort of presence that "Larry Sanders" did with celebrity bits. Sometimes it was there, sometimes not. Then there was the decision not to do stand up on the show because I wasn't sure how much people needed to see that. I'm a comic and this is a comedy, so we tried to use the podcast to explore and give you a little more range. You can pull off some highs, you can be serious. The guy talking on a radio mic -- you don't see that a lot.

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Interviews, Marc Maron, Maron, IFC





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