WTF is up with Marc Maron

The veteran comic is the comedy world’s answer to Ira Glass.

The veteran comedian and host of WTF is performing for four nights at Rick Bronsons House of Comedy.

Marc Maron

The veteran comedian and host of “WTF” is performing for four nights at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy.

by Raghav Mehta

WHAT: Marc Maron

WHERE: Rick BronsonâÄôs House of Comedy, 408 E Broadway

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 10 âÄì Sunday, Feb. 13

COST: $15-$19

Veteran comic Marc Maron suffers from all of the typical imperfections that ail so many of AmericaâÄôs more established comedians. He is neurotic, self-absorbed, grossly confessional, crass and occasionally antagonistic. Oh, but heâÄôs also devastatingly funny.

In the course of his 20+ year career, Maron has pulled himself through two divorces, kicked drug addiction and endured an unhealthy share of professional misfortune. And after weeding through all that muck, the mustachioed funnyman has finally discovered a venue for his embittered ramblings and no-holds-barred sense of humor.

Averaging about 230,000 hits a week, MaronâÄôs podcast, âÄúWTF,âÄù has evolved from an underground sensation to one of iTunesâÄô top downloads.

With interviews with everyone from comedy giants like Robin Williams and Bob Saget, to more contemporary mainstays that include Louis C.K. and David Cross, MaronâÄôs show offers something deeper and more intimate than the scripted pablum of Entertainment Weekly or network television.

Much like his stand-up, Maron is brutally honest with his listeners, speaking openly about his personal shortcomings, even the ugly sides of it. He facilitates his interviews in a colloquial manner and what unravels feels more like a therapy session than a talk-show.

The conversations are unscripted and have the tendency to become intensely personal, and while some interviews can be less revealing than others, Maron and his comedic guests save it from inanity.

âÄúIâÄôm not a big small-talk guy,âÄù Maron said. âÄúHaving those types of conversations in my life are not some unusual thing, itâÄôs how I talk and what I usually talk about.âÄù

âÄúWTFâÄù was created in a time of extreme personal turmoil. Following a temporary stint at the now-defunct liberal radio network Air America, Maron was struggling to find a steady flow of income. He was also coping with a failed marriage âÄî his second in a decade.  

âÄúI thought we would get a few people that were fans of mine from different parts of my life, comedy, radio, and whatnot,âÄù Maron said. âÄúI had no idea [âÄòWTFâÄô] evolve into what it would become. Absolutely not.âÄù

But the real turning point for âÄúWTFâÄù occurred last summer when Maron interviewed the widely-hated-yet-hugely-successful now-former Comedy Central host Carlos Mencia.

Over the years, Mencia had earned a reputation for stealing jokes, and Maron addressed the subject in his initial interview but without much impact. Feeling short-changed, Maron contacted Latino comics Willie Barcena and Steve Trevino, who had known and worked with Mencia for years. Both comedians recounted MenciaâÄôs pattern of objectionable behavior that included stealing jokes and repeatedly bumping performers at shows.

Trevino recalled one night when Mencia was performing a fellow comedianâÄôs material verbatim. That comic had passed away just a week before.

When Maron had Mencia back on to confront him about the accusations, Mencia, seemingly unnerved, admitted and apologized for some of his misconduct.

The interview was hugely successful and added a new layer of seriousness to MaronâÄôs show.

But despite the podcastâÄôs triumphs, Maron said getting by is still a challenge.

âÄúI knew it was an outlet that had very few restrictions once I figured out how to do it,âÄù Maron said. âÄúBut in terms of making a living out of it, everyoneâÄôs trying to figure that out right now.âÄù

Maron still has grand plans for âÄúWTFâÄù and is in the process of ironing out the kinks for a book heâÄôs writing âÄî tentatively titled âÄúAttempting Normal.âÄù But before taking off, he dropped a nugget of wisdom for this yearâÄôs graduating class.

âÄúDo what you want to do, but if you have to, make sure those compromises donâÄôt destroy you from the inside.âÄù