Marc Maron seems to be building a small comedic empire these days. The 48-year-old New Jersey native has released four stellar comedy albums to date and appeared on Late Night With Conan O’Brien more times than any other comedian. He is working on both his second book and a sitcom for the Independent Film Channel based on his life, has just surpassed 300 episodes of his wildly successful podcast, WTF, and is drawing increasingly large crowds as a headliner throughout North America. This success comes from Maron’s dedication to comedy based on in-depth and often painful personal reflection and confession.
“It requires real emotional risk to be truly revealing and to process that in a funny way in front of other human beings. A lot of people can’t even process it with themselves,” Maron explains. “There’s never been that many comics that have ever done it in a genuine way. The risk of failing, the risk of not being funny precludes or overshadows most people’s ability to take other risks deeper than that.”
Maron says the perils of comedy based on personal revelation are multiple. “Not only are you risking failing, you’re taking the emotional risk that you could really embarrass yourself or hurt yourself or find yourself in an emotionally difficult position on stage. There’s that risk that you’re going to talk about yourself and your biggest fear will come true, which is: you’re a freak and no one gets what the fuck you’re talking about.”
Despite all that’s involved in this line of comedy, Maron has managed to find some comfort in his life. “I think that finally, after 20-some odd years of doing comedy and being in this world and 48 years of being alive . . . I’ve finally settled into my own skin and I’m okay with it — for the most part.”
This sense of slowly settling in comes only with experience. “At some point you have to realize, ‘Oh, you know what? Maybe they’re not just like me and they might just laugh at my problems and that’s gonna have to be OK. And the people that are like me will feel some relief at not being alone in the world and that’s OK.’ ” says Maron.
The intimacy that Maron brings to the stage spills over into the way he interacts with his audience, both in person and through social media . His Twitter feed is a goldmine of hilarious, personal tidbits like, “I’m in a van with a few show biz suits. I feel like jumping out to save the few dreams I have left.”
“I do something that people have a very intimate relationship with, and they know me. They really do, but I don’t know them. They’re coming to me with a lot of familiarity, and I can’t say what they know about me is disingenuous; it isn’t. It’s real. So I try to be there for what they need in that moment and connect with them and be grateful.”
It’s a unique way to deal with fans and one that has brought its share of odd interactions, including some pretty life-altering meetings. “The woman who just moved into my house was a fan, so that can be very personal,” Maron says with a laugh. “My second wife was a fan. That didn’t end well.”
Though he’s gaining success and notoriety, Maron’s mission is still rooted in the desire to bring the best, most intimate comedic product he can to his fans. “I want to give them something they haven’t necessarily heard. I make sure I kind of do something I’ve never done before. I don’t want them to be disappointed or be let down. Certainly it’s easier for me to perform [with success], but I still want them to have a unique experience at the show.”
Maron reminds us all how to get through the rough patches, both in comedy and in life, saying, “Don’t beat yourself up to the point where you’re missing the point.”
Marc Maron @ the Blue Bridge Comedy Festival Gala Show
Aug.17, Esquimalt Sport Centre, 8 p.m.
Tickets $60.50 or included in Festival VIP Pass ($88.50)
Marc Maron in the Blue Bridge Comedy Festival Headliner Series
Aug.18, Upstairs Cabaret, 8 p.m.
Tickets $25 or included in Festival VIP Pass ($88.50)