zondag 27 oktober 2013

Marc Maron, who's that?

Marc is an American stand-up comedian. Never heard of him? Why would you, if you are not from the US? American stand-ups are not an export product. Eddy Murphy, perhaps, Richard Pryor, maybe, Dennis Leary, exceptionally, but all those other US stand-ups, they are doomed to the oblivion of European niche and sub culture. As soon as stand-ups become famous they become comedy actors or talk-show hosts. We have no idea that these people have a long career in improv theaters and small rooms with a couple of tables and people lining up back-stage to share their worldview  wrapped in jokes in 10 minutes sets.

What the Fuck!!!

That is not an expression about my own miserable knowledge of stand-ups or a statement of what I wrote above, but the title of Marc's podcast.

What the Fuck appears semi regular and with high frequency. The shear number of episodes and their duration make it difficult to keep up - there are only so many commutes in a week. Before you know hours of backlog have accumulated.

The format is straightforward, Marc starts off with what's up with themisery of his day-to-day life. Does some product placement for coffee, stamps, audiobooks or dildos, and then enters into an almost hour long interview with a fellow comedic, actor, chef, or musician.

The whats-up-with-Marc section of the show is, as Marc seems to acknowledge, the part that most people skip fast forward. However, it is the part of the show that reveals what the show is really about: the fact that motivation and drive for (artistically) expressing yourself is a lifelong struggle. Marc clearly has a drive and motivation to create a unique interpretation and understanding of the
world and share that creatively. His description of the weekly battle with his anxiety, the way he interacts with his loved ones, his love for cats, his struggle with his audience, and the prelude to the
conversation are all about that drive to self-define. While this part of the show is pitched as a conversation to the listener it seems more like a conversation of Marc with himself or with a therapist that lives at the other side of the pop shield.

I am still not sure if I like this first part of the show. It is like the asymmetrical friendship with that friend that is always in trouble, always talking about it, is sorry for himself, and never listens to you.

That said.

The first part of the show is a necessity for understanding why the second half of the show works. Marc not only tries to understand his own drivers but is sincerely interested in the drivers of others. He takes a serious amount of time to understand his guests. Usually by talking through their history: parents, school, first inspiration, first accomplishments.

Since he is a comedian there is some focus on the comedic world. But I find his interviews with musicians and chefs the best. Marc aspires to be a good cook and a musician, but he is neither. (That said, I would love to have him cook for me because I believe he would make a mean dish. He has also proven more than once that he plays a nice 1-4-5 on the guitar). That admiration for musicians and chefs tickles his curiosity and that makes for awesome interviews.

Listen to the interviews with Josh Homme, Hunt Sales, Iggy Pop, John Cale, Nick Cave, Billy Brags, or Dave Grohl and you will understand that it is well worth to tune in to this pod cast.

I wonder if Marc could do interviews with people with a different creative skill set like scientists or nerds. I don't think he ever had one on the show. Don't let that stop you from listening to the musicians.

Boomer lives!

podcast on itunes or as app.


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