What’s In My Hear Hole Today?: WTF with Marc Maron… again

WTF

Yes, this is my first repeat in ‘What’s In My Hear Hole Today?”… and quite frankly, it will not be my last.  I’ve realized that I only listen to a limited number of podcasts and I don’t feel the need to review each and every one.  What I may be doing in the very near future is to give weekly reviews of all of the random podcasts I listen to… but in the meantime, I want to reiterate the fact that WTF with Marc Maron is not only my favorite podcast, but is quickly becoming what can only be described as achieving an “Ed Sullivan” level of broadcasting prowess.

Over the past month, Maron has managed to pull off some of the most disparate and enlightening interviews I have had the pleasure to hear.

Beginning in early April, Marc interviewed the somewhat reclusive and intensely private Conan O’Brien.  What started as a slightly uncomfortable meeting of two people who have known each other for years, Maron having been a recurring guest on Conan’s first show as well as recently having done his latest, who don’t really know each other very well… and morphed into an open and honest look into O’Brien’s life before fame as well as taking us through a walk across fame and into the heart of someone who had to go through a very public television feud.

Most revelatory however, is to learn of the depths of Conan’s intelligence.  To learn of his days at Harvard and that his dissertation was on Flannery O’Conner and the ensuing conversation the two share regarding southern literature was both odd and fascinating.  To understand O’Brien’s desire to recreate a Vaudeville act informs so much about what his particular shtick is.

Of course, it’s not just the guests that are becoming more engaging… it’s Marc as well.  His interviewing is becoming stronger… his understanding of when to interject his own crap and when to lay back and let the story be told by the storyteller his or herself is increasing… and the listening experience is becoming more real… more visceral… more emotional.

About a week after O’Brien, he had Ed Helms on and they jammed… Helms on banjo, Maron on guitar.  It was cool.

Not to be missed a week after Helms was an interview with Bobcat Goldthwait.  Gone is the silly voice and spastic routine and in its place is a thoughtful director with some amazing tales.  To learn that he has been sober for the majority of his career and that his start and the missteps he has taken were all a bit of performance art as he strived for an Andy Kaufman level of comedy.  My image of him in Police Academy is thoroughly wiped…

Now… I keep jumping one week to the next… that doesn’t mean he isn’t releasing other shows as well… usually two a week… I’m just giving a few highlights from the last month of so.

Towards the end of April we are given what can only be described as “crazy as fuck weirdness” in the form of Andy Dick.  Believe it or not… surprisingly touching… completely strange… and oftentimes uncomfortable.  He discusses his living arrangement (living in his ex-wife’s shed), his three kids, his real father, his first gay experiences, his relationship with the late, great Phil Hartman and his feud/hatred with John Lovitz.  There is so much ground covered in the interview I feel I need to go back and hear it again.  Riveting.

I’m going to end this post discussing his last two guests.  Monday he interviewed the comedy legend, Jonathan Winters in his home in Santa Barbara.  Winters is 85… and Maron sits back and allows the man to tell his story.  Obviously in awe, Marc has never been more quiet nor more reverential  than he is in this particular podcast.  I couldn’t help but feel a sense of history… a feeling of someone who has seen the world at various times yet sits apart and above it all.  A man who knows himself.  And to hear Marc refer to him as Mr. Winters… then to be told “call me Jonny”… I couldn’t help but feel happy for Maron.  I mean, how much more of a thrill could any comedian have.

Yesterday, however, brought genuine tears to my eyes as I listened to the interview with Sally Wade.  Who is Sally Wade you ask?  She is the late, great (again) George Carlin’s wife/gf/significant other (they weren’t married, but were together for about a decade).  Yesterday was his birthday, and Marc honored Carlin by talking with Sally who has just released a book about their love and their life.  Towards the end of the show he asks her about the final moments with George… and I am tearing up just thinking about it… she talks about the man with such love, such tenderness… and I feel we are all given a gift by being able to learn about this particular side of a man who has meant so much to comedy.

If you have not yet listened to this podcast, stop being so mean to yourself… listen to this.  He has a free iPhone app… a Droid app… it’s free from iTunes… and you can pay for some older shows from his site here.  Whether you buy anything or not… listen.  Learn.  Feel.  I can’t shake the feeling that what he is doing has some historic significance… and that we are listening to a master perfecting his craft.

Thank you Marc Maron…
Cornelius J. Blahg

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