The Self-Made Man: Marc Maron
Marc Maron and his groundbreaking comedy podcast, WTF, have been referenced a lot in my columns here at TSB, and I’ve often considered him for an Awesome Men Throughout History column, but upon reflection, I think Maron’s more of a Self Made Man.
Not a typical one, granted. Marc Maron is a comedian, a show business guy, and not someone you’d think of upon hearing the phrase “dynamic young go-getter.” He’s also had a few chances at bat on TV and terrestrial radio, as well as movies. For whatever reason, nothing he did stuck for long. Always a touring comedian, Maron never really got too far beyond that—his TV and radio shows got canceled, movies didn’t work out, Saturday Night Live stopped calling, and all he could do was get back on the road.
Not to say that he was unsuccessful, just that success was fleeting, and as he got older, there was the very real chance that he would never really escape being the guy who other comedians loved, but wider audiences didn’t get.
“I was very depressed,” he told The Believer in an online interview. “I was very broke. I didn’t have a lot of options performing-wise, because I had marginalized myself one way or the other through radio or just bad social politics. I kind of hit a wall.”
That changed in 2009, when his Air America talk show got canceled and Maron kept his building keycard, using it to essentially break into the studio and record the first episodes of his podcast, WTF.
Of course, he had no idea any of it was going to work, and originally planned for it to be a twice-a-week show with no definite plan or agenda for what it would become.
What it became is a marvel of new media. Maron is one of the guys who popularized the “inside baseball” style of podcasting, and the conversations he has with his guests go pretty deep into the nuts and bolts of comedy; theory, the realities of touring, crafting and perfecting routines, the history of the business, etc. It’s fascinating stuff, and Maron has gotten very good at guiding conversations intended for audiences without robbing them of their natural flow.
As his podcast gained momentum, some genuine celebrities took notice, and Maron landed interviews with Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Weird Al Yankovic, and Ben Stiller, among others.
Not only has WTF helped him reengage with his peers in comedy, it revitalized his career, perhaps for good. He has his own TV show again, his comedy bookings are steady, and opportunities are opening up at a point where he once thought they’d have dried up for good.
Ultimately, Marc Maron had to do something himself to make his career really happen. He couldn’t sit around waiting for someone else to give him a chance; he’d tried that. He made his own chance, and it worked.
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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.