Editor’s Note: This is part five 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’ll be rolling out over this week. [#21 through 25] [#16 through 20] [#11 through 15] [#5 through 10]
5. Woody Allen
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Woody Allen is an important test case in what we “know” about an entertainer. He’s been famous for 50 years, first as a stand-up comic, then as a writer, and then as a film director, frequently performing in his work as what is often referred to as “the Woody Allen character” in his films on the occasions the role’s played by another actor: a neurotic, sex-obsessed, nebbish whose spiritual, if not always physical, home is New York City. The occasional apparent parallels between Allen’s life and work — most notoriously his 1992 film “Husbands and Wives,” released on the heels of his real-life (and extremely acrimonious) breakup with star Mia Farrow — seem to cement the notion that Allen is the same off-screen and on. And yet, Allen frequently insists that he’s different in real life, that he’s not the tweedy intellectual type many assume from the cultural references in his films, that he’s just a working film director, making another feature each year like clockwork because that’s his job. The truth is, almost certainly, that he’s neither the stammering erudite mess nor the clock-punching working man, but the complex human being who begins to take shape when you read his films between the lines. –Danny Bowes
4. Lena Dunham
If you’re an at all compassionate or honest person (at least with yourself), it’s impossible to watch HBO’s love-it-or-hate-it series “Girls” and not recognize something within it: a pattern of behavior, a reaction, a situation, an emotion. And whether or not she’s “the voice of a generation,” as her character Hannah once deliriously claimed, Lena Dunham has tapped into something almost disappointingly universal – including the sense that what we do and how we do it is shared by all, especially when it’s uncomfortable and awkward and probably outright terrible but eventually we might learn from it. Or not. Because Dunham stars in the show, writes and directs it, there’s an overwhelming sense that she and Hannah are the same, or that Hannah is at least a proxy for her experiences, beliefs and feelings. (Don’t get us started on the even more autobiographical “Tiny Furniture,” filmed in her childhood home.) But no matter how much — or how little — her life parallels what happens on the show (increasingly diverging with her fame), her gift is to capture not just a time period or lifestyle but a disposition, a sort of aggregation of growing-up benchmarks, and force us to realize that they’re shared by all. Even if that confrontation offends, or perhaps scares some viewers, it’s an oddly rare exchange between an artist and her audience, which is why Dunham remains an oversharer we can’t get enough of. –Todd Gilchrist
3. Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow has been a major force in comedy for a while now. He began producing, writing and directing on television series like the short-lived-but-brilliant “The Ben Stiller Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared,” growing in power and influence to become a film and TV kingpin with many high-profile producing credits, like “Bridesmaids,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Girls,” created by number four on this list. But Apatow’s earned his lofty place on this list because of his later career directorial turns with the almost problematically personal “Funny People,” and “Knocked Up” and “This Is 40,” which both feature his real-life wife, Leslie Mann, and their daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow. With Paul Rudd as an Apatow surrogate in both films (Rudd, Mann and the ladies Apatow play the same roles), these films arguably gave too much away about the Apatow household, with unfiltered results that weren’t always favorable. Intimate and indulgent, “This Is 40” in particular felt like it shared more than is advisable, complete with a subplot centering around one daughter’s obsession with “Lost” and another about Mann’s character’s refusal to allow her husband to eat a cupcake… forcing him to fish one out of the trash. Is the Apatow home really so fraught with his hidden frustrations? The film showcase both how the personal could open up to the universal and how it could come off as frustratingly navel-gazing. –Caitlin Hughes
2. Kevin Smith
Listeners of Kevin Smith’s weekly SModcast know when the show is recorded at the verbose filmmaker’s home. All it takes is that high-pitched barking in the background, courtesy of Smith’s dog Shecky, to clue you in to the setting. And it’s those shows at his home field where the podcast, a stream of conscious talk show usually between Smith and his longtime friend and producer, Scott Mosier, really shines. But the “Clerks” writer/director, who set his debut film in the exact convenience store in which he worked in Jersey, has consistently proven himself incapable of keeping his private life private. As much as he complains about the press for picking on him and prying into his life (especially post-“Cop Out”), he can’t help but pour his soul and emotions into everything he does, whether it’s on screen or in person in the live appearance Smith has lately appeared more comfortable at than behind the camera. It’s admirable, and often fascinating (just listen to the episode after “Zach and Miri Make a Porno” bombed its opening weekend), even if it can get uncomfortable at times. When he made a quick and dirty grindhouse flick with “Red State,” a bold, underrated movie that’ll keep you on your toes, he impulsively threads his real-life concerns throughout the narrative. Shit, he even marketed the film himself, mostly through his personal Twitter account. –Erik McClanahan
1. Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. wrote for Conan O’Brien, for Dana Carvey and Chris Rock. He scripted and directed the flop turned cult favorite “Pootie Tang,” a play on hip-hop and blaxploitation conventions too odd to be called a parody,and created and starred in the HBO meta-sitcom “Lucky Louie,” which both played off and overturned the form. And yet, looked at today, all of this work, some of it very good and much of it admirably clever, can seem like preparation for C.K.’s current (terrific) stand-up and FX series “Louie,” which have made him the finest and most influential comedian working today. In “Louie,” C.K. plays a version of himself that’s hilariously and sometimes painfully honest, even as the circumstances through which he moves are absurd or surreal. When the show’s at its best, its combination of humor and vulnerability can feel breathtaking in a way that’s hard to reconcile with a largely formless half-hour comedy — like when Louie leaves a night out at a club to take his daughters out for breakfast, or when he has a raw confrontation with Dane Cook, echoing the pair’s real-life beef over stolen jokes. Even when the scenarios are clearly fictionalized — like last season’s arc in which Louie prepped to potentially take over for David Letterman on “Late Show” — the emotionally terrain is incontestably genuine and hard-won. Who else working today can make a scene in which someone watches a clip of himself as an stand-up in the ’80s on TV so melancholy, warm and funny all at once? Never stop oversharing, Mr. C.K. –Alison Willmore
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.