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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The podcast review: WTF with Marc Maron

    The podcast review: WTF with Marc Maron

    The Podcast: WTF with Marc Maron

    The Rundown: Referred to these days as “The Barbara Walters of Comedy,” comedian/personality Marc Maron manages to live up to such a tall order through this weekly podcast broadcasted out of his garage.

    Maron himself spends time at the beginning and closing of every show half-assing advertisements from his sponsors and ranting about his own life, but the real heart comes from the interview segments that are often pre-taped and then run from Maron’s home studio.

    WTF might sound like a basic format, but by approaching 400 episodes, Maron shows he is far from out of ideas or tactics to getting compelling interviews from anyone. If you can think of a living comedian either in the alt-world or in Hollywood, chances are Maron’s confronted them about the inner-workings of their psyches on his podcast.

    As is the nature of the interview format, each episode tends to vary in quality just given whoever the guest is. Even so, there’s almost always some kernel of greatness in any given podcast.

    Perhaps the most isolating thing about WTF is the very element that makes it worth 350 episodes in the first place —Maron as a person. Famously irascible and self-centered, Maron is the kind of comedian whose narcissistic self-reflection borders on genius, and it drives why Maron does these interviews in the first place.

    As Maron often seems to touch upon in his interviews, talking to other artists is a way for him to sort his own life out, to learn more about his own artistic process and figure out why he does what he does on a day to day basis.

    Sure, there’s going to be jokes and interesting tidbits about the guest that dominate a podcast, but if you’re more of a neurotic intellectual listener, every interview finds Maron rooting deep about his own issues and beliefs in a way that allows you to actually see character development in real time over the course of his discussions.

    The flip side is that Maron can be obnoxious in his thought processes, often analyzing a situation or even a single phrase the guest might say straight into the ground. As much as Maron is the driving force of his show, he is also its greatest villain, and the podcast rises and falls with his mood on any given day.

    Despite the possible obstacle of hearing Maron’s sandpaper baritone ranting through your speakers, one always gets the feeling that the host is truly giving every guest an honest, open shot at interesting him and engaging him. When Maron is on, he is on fire. When he’s off, it simply makes for a lame interview. Though as almost anyone familiar with Maron’s work would tell you, the man hits more than he misses.

    When Should I Listen: There is really no linear structure to WTF except in very rare cases of a two part interview — so feel free to just open up iTunes, scroll through the episode titles and pick one with a guest that seems interesting.

    Seeing as they’re essentially just plain and simple interviews, WTF episodes translate well in any setting, and don’t require an immense amount of focus to follow the gist of the conversation.

    Maron’s a professional, and he knows how to follow through on questions and organize an interview to its maximum potential. WTF is probably one of the most low-maintenance podcasts out there to actually sit through.

    Recommended Episodes:

    Episode 360: Tom Green
    You wouldn’t quite think that an hour-long interview with MTV personality Tom Green would yield such interesting results, but Maron pulls out all the stops with this one and gives a great example of how humane WTF can be at when the right guest is on the other side of Maron’s garage.

    Green talks candidly about his rise and fall at MTV, his flirtation with death that came from a bout with testicular cancer, and most surprisingly Green opens up a bit about his brief marriage to Drew Barrymore — something Green himself admits he has never talked about in interviews before. It’s a remarkably affecting episode, and finds Maron in peak interviewer condition.

    Episode 329: Tim Heidecker
    As one half of the notorious Tim and Eric comedy duo, Heidecker gives a refreshingly honest interview that finds him and Maron delving into topics as disparate as Bob Dylan’s reason to exist, their views on Hell and whether or not Maron is truly an asshole.

    Like the Tom Green episode, Heidecker provides Maron a suitable canvas to expound upon his questionable belief in mankind and himself. However, this episode nicely balances the heavier subjects with genuine comedic interplay between the two, all without coming off as contrived or insincere.

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