Dispatches from the Head

WTF is on YouTube.

Hey, Folks-

Don't mean to bug you but I wanted to tell you about a cool thing. I am starting a YouTube Channel for WTF. Every week we are going to feature videos and/or audio coming attractions for the upcoming week's shows. There will be material there you have never seen or heard along with some archived footage. I have some very talented people helping me put this stuff together. The first bit is up now previewing next week's live WTF from The Bell House in Brooklyn featuring: Amy Sedaris, Sam Seder, Julie Klausner, Mike Lawrence and Leo Allen.

Enjoy!

Love,
Maron

This week on WTF YouTube:

WTF Live with Amy Sedaris & More

Stay updated on both the latest WTF YouTube videos & the newest full-length WTF episodes for free on Facebook:
WTF Podcast on Facebook

Awestruck.

Okay, Crew-

Deep tease! I will be at The Punchline in SF November 2nd through the 5th and at The Neptune Theater in Seattle November 25th. Just a little heads up. Also, if you haven’t gotten my new CD, it is out and I am proud of it. I think you’ll dig it if you haven’t heard it.

Onward.

I guess I am not alone in being a bit in awe of certain actors or, more specifically, the characters they create. Okay, I’ll just say it… I’m a fanboy sometimes. This week was a mindblower for me. I don’t watch many shows on TV with any regularity, but I don’t miss Mad Men or Breaking Bad. I know I am not alone in that I know we are all waiting for the new season of Mad Men and are sad that Breaking Bad is ending its season next week. Okay, maybe not all of you but some. So, I interview Jon Hamm this week. It was a real challenge to separate him from Don Draper in my mind even when he was sitting there being Jon Hamm. It was a bit embarrassing for me. I guess I had some questions for Draper and had to talk to Hamm instead. The fact is Hamm is a great guy, a big comedy fan and interesting to talk to. I would have felt weird asking him to get in character to address some Draper issues and it would have been worse if I just kept asking things like “What would Draper say if…” Happy to report I didn’t do that. Oh, and don’t think it was easy getting past the fact that he is one of the most attractive humans alive and, even though I am not gay, I would marry him in whatever state we are allowed to do that.

Moving on to Thursday, I had the same issue with Bryan Cranston… I mean, shit, it’s fucking Mr. White. I have some serious questions for Walter White but I had to talk to Bryan Cranston instead. Again, great actor, great guy, but he is not Walter White. And, no, I would not have asked him for the meth recipe. I may have asked how he can live with himself and why do I still like him. I guess that last part is on me. It’s interesting to me that when you are a fan and you get to meet people you idolize and they are actors there is a fine line between disappointment that the character you are obsessed with doesn’t exist and complete awe of acting talent. In between those two things is just a dude… Damn. Why can’t life be like the movies?

Oh, yeah, something crawled under my house and died. It challenged my masculinity and made me feel like a bourgeois pig. I’ll get you up to speed on that little drama this week as well.

Thanks for all the birthday well wishes and gifts. I really appreciate it. I made it another year and because of you folks it was one of the best I’ve had… on every level.


Love,
Maron

Hope and Light.

Okay, People-

This is it. My last week on the road for a while. I’m heading back to the Cat Ranch today to focus on my book and get back into shape. I ate fucking Biscuits and Gravy at 2 am last night. Just sayin'…

I’m in Louisville, KY and it has been great. I am always a bit apprehensive about traveling to the South. I know it is a bit prejudiced to think that way but there is something about the history of prejudice in the region that makes me prejudiced against that prejudice. Even though I have had nothing but good times in the South and the people have been great. I flew into Louisville and driving from the airport the first large building I saw heading into town was The Jewish Hospital. For a second I thought, “That’s where I’ll end up. They actually built a hospital for Jews that get themselves hurt down here.”

Obviously I was all wrong. Everything has been great. It’s a fine city with lots of groovy stuff to do. I think I had the best chocolate chip cookie in my life at a place called Please Thank You. I went to the Muhammad Ali Center and that was pretty overwhelming and inspiring. It documents his career as fighter, his courage in the face of racism, Parkinsons and the wave of negative judgment of him when he chose not to go to Vietnam. It went into his spiritual and poetic sides, his charity and mission in life. It was really amazing. About halfway through it I stopped thinking, “Man, I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie.” And instead started thinking, “Man, I really haven’t done much in my life.” By the end of the exhibition I was thinking, “Man, maybe I should change my name and stand for something.” I am going with Hope. My name is now Marc Hope Maron and from this day on I will be filled with hope and light. I will no longer complain about my weight or talk about myself… I’m rethinking this now. I won’t complain about my weight. Baby steps.

This week we have a special show in. I was so surprised and excited about last Monday’s Bell House show that we are putting it up today. The show was already amazing and wild and then it just got better. I booked Ira Glass, Morgan Spurlock, Elna Baker, Joe Mande, Wayne Koestenbaum, Nick Griffin and Nick DiPaolo... AND Artie Lange came with DiPaolo and got on stage for a bit. It was so good to see him healthy and sober, I wanted to get the episode up asap. On Thursday the strange and multiple personalities of Will Franken people the garage. Big week. Hope you dig the show.


Love,
Marc ‘Hope’ Maron

The WTF Album

John Montanga, the creator of the WTF theme song and other music you hear on the show, has put together The WTF Album.

The WTF Album

Get it here.

I’ve had it with traffic.

People-

Before I get lost here I will be at the Improv in Louisville KY this week Thursday through Sunday September 22 through 25. Come on down if you are around.

I just landed at JFK in NYC. I am writing right now in the back of a car. I called a car service. It’s not even a fancy car service. They sent a Camry. WTF. I drive a Camry. I’m no big entitled celebrity but I hired a car service for fuck’s sake. Granted the Camry is new but I kinda would rather an old beat up Town Car over a new Camry. I know it’s better for the air and whatnot but the dude driving is nervous about my coffee spilling and he just sneezed without covering his mouth. I may fuck up his car with my toxic Dunkin Donuts brew but he could fuck up my week with his germ explosion. He can clean his car, I can’t get my week back. Luxury problems. I know.

I’m stuck in traffic. I really don’t want to complain but god forbid any of us need to get out of a big city for any reason with any pressing urgency. Los Angeles is the worst. I know it’s a hackneyed observation but it is really the only big problem I have with LA. Traffic is a malignant time suck that drives me nuts. I drove to the airport at 6am today, Sunday, and it was beautiful. There was no one on the road. I made it there in 24 minutes and it could have taken me over an hour any other day or time. Being able to drive freely on a highway shouldn’t be the highlight of my week but it fucking was. I felt elated. Ridiculous.

Now I’m stuck in Sunday traffic in Queens in a Camry with a viral driver hoping to fuck I am not late for an interview with Anthony Bourdain who is meeting me at my hotel in Brooklyn. It’s the only time we could do it. He is off to Africa tomorrow and I’m complaining about a ride in a Camry. I am a pussy. I am ashamed of myself. I better get myself humbled before I get there.

Jesus, what's happening to me?

This week on the show Lisa Lampanelli gets raw. It was great to talk to her since we really haven’t talked since she taught standup classes at a club in NYC. Also, Chris Hardwick….for reals. Sorry about the delay.

Getting carsick. Gotta go.

Love,
Maron

I almost died from hot chicken.

Hi, ya’ll-

Before I get into it here I will be in Louisville, KY, September 22nd through 25th at the Improv. If you are in the area it would be nice to see you.

Sorry about last week's Hardwick confusion. We just thought it would be better to post the episode closer to the premiere of Chris' BBC show.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the shows in Nashville at Zanies. I had a great time. Thanks for the guitar picks, Pralines, chicken, CDs, licorice, coffee and homemade comix. Everytime I go to the South I always want to have a good time and want to stay despite what I thought before I went. Great people, great city.

I am flying from Nashville to NYC as I write this with a fire in my belly. It is not passion or hope. It is the aftermath of eating at Prince’s Hot Chicken. I don’t think I can rationalize my deep desire to eat food that is horrible for me just because I am in a particular region of the country and want to experience the local cuisine. I almost died from chicken--in my mind anyway. Me and few local comics drove to the hood to eat this renowned hot fried chicken. We got there and there was a 400 lb man with a sidearm standing out front. He wasn’t a cop and I assumed he wasn’t the hostess. It was intense. You walk into the place, walk up to a window in the back and order from the small menu. Chicken: regular, medium, hot or extra hot. I was told that white people were not even allowed to order the ‘Extra Hot’. I wanted to. I found that insulting. I had something to prove but they wont even let you. So I ordered the hot. Now, mind you, I can handle hot.

The food came out. You pick it up in a bag. I opened the chicken and the smell made my eyes water. I took one bite and I started hiccupping. I think it was my body trying to reject what I had just put in it. Within seconds I couldn’t feel my face because it was burning from the inside. The guy sitting next to me started sweating. I couldn’t talk or listen. A guy outside was being arrested, there was chaos around, people talking. I couldn't see or hear any of it. I had a singular focus. Getting through this piece of chicken. Why? Who knows? Because it was there and it felt like I was alive. I did it.

I got back to my hotel room and got into bed. An hour later my stomach seized in pain. I knew what was happening. The chicken was burning a hole in the lining. I started drinking water—to survive. I’ve done a lot drugs and nasty things in hotel rooms. I wasn’t going out like this. I pictured the news story. ‘Comic found dead in hotel room from hot chicken.’ I thought about going to the hospital but I pictured when I got there, grasping my stomach, sweating, the ER nurse would look at me and say, “Prince’s?” I rode it out and the pain passed downward. I am living with that now. I assume it will go away. So, if you are down in Nashville… be sure to go to Prince's if you want to push it to the edge with food.

As I write it is the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and I am flying to NYC. I am not scared, I am a bit sad and reflective. If anyone out there lost anyone on that day I send my sympathy as we honor this dark anniversary.


Love,
Maron
1

SHUT UP LITTLE MAN!

Click here to find out more about one of our sponsors - SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! from Tribeca Film

I needed wood like a crackhead needs crack.

Heading South, People!

If you are in Nashville or Louisville and you are a fan of mine this is your month. I will be at Zanies in Nashville September 8th through 10th, and in Louisville September 22nd through 25th. Hope to see some of you there. I will try to bring the merch!

It has been good to be home for a stretch. When I travel so much it seems that when I am home it’s just to do laundry, pay some bills, interview people, and see Jessica. All good things, but I like hanging out a bit at my house. I have been crazy busy preparing to take some time in October and November to give my book full attention. As you all know, I have no idea how to handle anxiety. The other day I was so overwhelmed with anger and panic that I fixed my front door.

I don’t know if you ever compulsively did some repair work to stop the noise in your head but it was great. I think I may have scared a few people at the hardware store with my urgency but they probably see that from time to time. I needed wood like a crackhead needs crack.

The screen on my front screen door was fucked. It had a growing hole in it that LaFonda eventually figured out how to jump through. Monkey watched her do it over and over and it still took him about a month to figure it out. Monkey is cute but simple. LaFonda can go outside, Monkey cannot. So I had a problem. I remedied the problem by taping a large piece of cardboard over the bottom half of the door which obviously looked shitty but I was planning on finding a screen guy to fix the screen. It was like that for a month and LaFonda had figured out how to jump over the cardboard, land between the screen and the outside, then climb out. She’s a smart terror of a feline.

Anyway, in a flurry of compulsion I went and bought the wood for the frame, a saw and saw thingy to cut angles, screen, a staple gun, and nails. I pulled the door off and focused like only the deep need to get out of myself can enable me to focus and I fixed that fucking door and stained the frame.

Needless to say within days LaFonda began climbing up the screen and destroying it, but for a short time it looked perfect and I was a proud craftsman.

On the show this week, Monday, her highness Sandra Bernhard talks nicely to me in the garage. I thought she would be filled with rage but nope. Just me. Thursday I spend some time with Chris Hardwick who I misjudged as well. When will I learn that what I think people are is not usually the case?

See you down South!

Love,
Maron

I am pretty sure I almost died flying into Cleveland.

Okay, people.

I just want to start by saying I have been in Cleveland for 5 days and it has been pretty great. The club is awesome. The food is awesome. Granted everything seems to be on one street, but that street was right across from where I was staying so everything worked out. I went to Michael Symon’s Lola and ate beef cheek pierogi and a pork chop, and I went to his old sous chef Jonathon Sawyer’s Greenhouse Tavern and had buttered popcorn pot de crème. Fucking awesome.

Also, I want to thank Matt at Black Ocean Cabinets for building me the beautiful guitar cabinet you see here. I also want to thank the guy who brought me the pierogi from Parma. Awesome. Always good to see the WTFers come out!

I hope everyone made it through Irene and that Irene didn’t blast through you and yours too bad. Speaking of scary shit, I am pretty sure I almost died flying into Cleveland. I wouldn’t want to die in Cleveland and I definitely didn’t want to die over Cleveland.

I fly quite a bit and I overcame my paralyzing fear of flying years ago out of necessity. I make it a habit to check the weather of where I am flying to determine whether or not we will be delayed leaving. I took an afternoon flight to Cleveland because I had to get in a day early for press—a lot of press. So, I left at 4pm. The weather said there would be thunderstorms so I assumed that we would be leaving early because these days they will delay flights if it's drizzling at some airports. I think this is because there are so many planes in the air at one time they don’t want to have to stack a dozen up in the air circling in shitty weather. In other words, we have all gotten pretty spoiled in terms of what we fly through. I seem to remember as a kid flying in snowstorms, lightning storms and just about anything. I realize now that I don’t miss that. Coming into Cleveland we flew right through a lightning storm and all I will say now is that there is never a time when I want to be gripping the armrests because the plane is flying almost sideways after it dropped fifty feet. I tell the story on the show this week so I will save the details for that.

On the show Monday, Jason Sudeikis from SNL and movies talks about Chicago, SNL, sports and the rumors that he is the father of January Jones’ baby. On Thursday, Anthony Jeselnik shares his button-pushing charm and talks about doing jokes that he knows will offend people.

Glad to be alive.

Love,
Maron

I come from old school stand-up training.

Hey, Gang-

I made it back from Vegas. I’m exhausted. What an awful amazing clusterfuck that place is.

Before I get into that, I want to give my WTF Ohioans a heads up and tell you that I will be at Hilarities in Cleveland this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday August 25th thru 28th.

I really want to thank the WTFers that came out to The Playboy Comedy Club at The Palms in Vegas. I am not exactly comfortable in Vegas. It is not really my bag. I go because I am an entertainer and there is some part of me that thinks that as an entertainer I should be able to play Vegas. I’m not exactly sure where that comes from. I think it is because when I was a kid all of my grandma’s favorite comedians were the old guys who played Vegas and I loved those guys. Obviously, Vegas is not what it used to be. I don’t think it has been what it used to be for my entire lifetime, but some part of me holds onto the idea that Vegas is a goal and an honor for a comedian. I might have to let that go. It was a little rough and the only thing that made it not shitty was seeing you guys in the audience and talking to you after the show, so thanks for that.

I will be honest with you. The hardest thing for me to do as a comic is to reconcile the audience experience in my mind. When I do a show in a place like Vegas, I had about a third of the room filled with WTFers, a third with house seats and a third with giveaways. This is a unique situation. In some cities I sell out; in others, not so much. There is really nothing worse than a free ticket holder in that they have nothing invested in the show and they probably don’t know me at all AND they can be douchey. I come from old school stand-up training. I believe in my heart that I should be able to entertain any audience, but I am still me. Some of you know me REAL well. So, the biggest challenge for me is bridging that gap but still giving you the best show. I am now doing it for the WTFers and my comedy fans so sometimes one of those douchey free ticket holders might have to be sacrificed on the altar of funny for being rude, and of course that is very entertaining to everyone.

I don’t like to unleash the weapons from my dark crowd work arsenal but it can and will happen. I have to admit it can be very satisfying.

On the show this week I talk to Carol Leifer. She started as a standup in NYC with Larry David, Paul Reiser, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry Miller. She's a writer and an actor and may have been who Elaine from Seinfeld was based on. She is a real unsung comedy legend. Also this week the amazing and disturbingly incisive Doug Stanhope comes to the garage with his posse.

See you in Cleveland!

Love,
Maron

Being lost is one of the ways we find ourselves.

Okay, People-

If you are a gambler and need an excuse to go to Vegas, I will be at The Playboy Comedy Club in The Palms this Thursday through Saturday. God, I hope I don’t lose too much money. Maybe I won’t gamble at all. Yeah, I won’t gamble at all. I’ll get some work done. Do some writing. Go to the gym in the hotel. Yeah, this trip to Vegas will be completely proactive and healthy.

I’ll gamble a little.

In the last month I have been in two cars with OnStar, and it gives me the willies and makes me feel like a moron at the same time. I wasn’t even driving. The fact that we are voluntarily being tracked as a convenience is just creepy to me. We are not trapped in lost space travel vessels. We don’t need ground control to guide us in. We are letting our wits, instincts and memory atrophy more than they will naturally by turning the reigns over to apps and satellite monitoring systems in the name of efficiency. Being lost is one of the ways we find ourselves—physically and mentally. It’s something to be cherished and reckoned with, not corrected by machines that can be equally lost. Someday they will convince us that memory is an outdated human mode that is imprecise and dangerous. By "they" I mean the machines that make us do things because we think they are better than us.

I was in a car last night with my buddy Al who was using a car with OnStar, and we needed to find a gas station close by. He asked the OnStar navigation guide puppet master person who gave us a route to a place where there was no gas station. Then Al took out his iPhone to use an app that is only for finding nearby gas stations. It didn’t work. After both failed attempts at technological guidance, he went old school and used his memory. It was exciting having to think and panic.

This week: Monday we have a big live show from The Steve Allen Theater with Rob Huebel, Joe Lo Truglio, Aparna Nancherla, Bob Duca, Eddie Pepitone and Jim Earl. I am slowly getting through all members of The State. On Thursday, I talk to an old running buddy from my doorman days, Jimmy Shubert. This is one of the most personal recollections of what The Comedy Store was that I have encountered. Pretty gritty stuff here.

Trying to not be fat,
Maron

Wait, it’s coming back to me.

Help, folks.

Who am I?

I am in a hotel room outside of Chicago and I just woke up from what seems to be a coma. The last thing I remember I was waiting in line at a place called Hot Doug's. Wait, it’s coming back to me. I ate something called a Firedog and a Corn Dog and a Duck Sausage with Foie Gras on the top… oh, shit, yeah… and fries cooked in duck fat. I remember it all now. I know who I am. I’m the guy who is going to have a heart attack soon. God, I love Chicago.

Thanks for coming out to the shows at The Mayne Stage Theater. It is a great space and the shows were a blast. It was nice to meet all of you. Quick list of the cool stuff received: homemade cinnamon bread, peanut butter bars, molasses cake, giant pizza-sized cookie. Also, Matt's cookies, Jo Snow Syrups, two Robert Elder books given to me by Robert Elder, Cards Against Humanity game, a cartoon portrait of me, Frampton Comes Alive album signed by Peter Frampton on vinyl along with Carlin’s Toledo Window Box. There was more stuff but I’m starting to drift back into meat coma.

Before I go out again there are some milestones this week. I would like to say thanks to all of you again for listening to the show. We are coming up on our 200th episode this Thursday and it’s been an amazing undertaking and I am always moved that you folks dig the show so much. As a special 200th episode, I had Mike Birbiglia host the show and I was the guest. I let him sit in my chair and I took the guest chair in the garage. I think he did a good job. I hope you dig it.

This week, Tuesday marks my 12th year sober. Who the fuck knew that would happen? Well it did. I made it another year. Tuesday is also the day that my 4th CD, This Has To Be Funny, is released by Comedy Central Records. It will be available on iTunes and as an actual hard CD with an amazing cover by Dima Drjuchin and liner notes by Ira Glass.

On Monday’s show Aubrey Plaza talks. I didn’t know what would happen because I didn’t know her and she didn’t seem like a talker, but she talks and it’s good.

Thanks again for listening, and for all the love and all the baked goods and cool art.

Love,
Maron

cookiepic

If you think show business is a messy undertaking sober, you should see it fucked up.

Hola,

First off, I will be in Chicago this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 4-6, at The Mayne Stage Theater. If you are in the area come down!

Still here in Montreal. I have had enough. Great city but I have had enough. I poutined and Cuban cigared and today I will go eat their odd sweet malformed bagels. We had a great turnout for the WTF taping and I want to thank everyone who came out. I actually interviewed a Monkey puppet. It was a first for me and it was weirder than I could have ever imagined.

Everyone in the comedy industry is up here and they are all getting wasted. If you think show business is a messy undertaking sober you should see it fucked up. I did what I had to do up here and I showed up for myself. It was touch and go there for a few minutes here and there but we pulled it off. I still have a big gala set to do tonight that may be horrible but it’s for Canadian TV so I’m not freaking out that much. I don’t even have a clean shirt to wear. I’ll do my job. It will be exciting.

The thing I was most worried about was giving the Keynote Speech. I was in a panic for months over it. The thought of showing myself for who I am in front of an industry that has not really ever acknowledged me as anything other than a raw, unmanageable, erratic talent that would eventually destroy himself or fade away was a bit daunting. I couldn’t sleep the night before and I had a full-on old school panic attack—shortness of breath, numb hands, the whole nine. I knew that if I didn’t sleep I would not have any way to calibrate my emotions and it would come out too sad or just angry. Well, I wrangled the panic and crashed out for a few hours and pulled it off. Here is a text of the speech if you didn’t see it online and here is a link to the audio.

Welcome to the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and fuck you, some of you, you know who you are. Wait. Sorry. That was the old me. I would like to apologize for being a dick just then. Goddamanit. See that’s progress. The amount of time between action and apology was seconds.

I am excited to be here. So, I will now proceed to make this speech all about me and see where that takes us.

Things are going pretty well for me right now and that is a problem. I don’t know what kind of person you are but I am the kind of person who when things are going well there is a voice in my head saying, “You’re going to fuck it up. You’re going to fuck it, Marc.” Over and over and over again. I just wish that voice were louder than the voice screaming, “Lets fuck it up! Come on, pussy! What happened to you? Fuck it up. Burn some bridges, fuck up your career, fuck up this speech, break up with girlfriend, Start drinking again, pussy! You used to have balls and edge! Have you forgotten what it’s like being alone on a couch drunk and crying with no future and nothing left to lose? Have you forgotten what freedom feels like, pussy? Fuck it up!

So, that is going on right now.

When they asked me to give this speech months ago the first thing I said to my manager was, “What? They can’t get anyone else? With this much time? Really?” Then my manager said, “They want you.” So I asked, “Why me?”

Why ask why me? is the better question. This was obviously a good thing--I got the gig--but I’m the kind of person that needs to deconstruct even a good thing so I can understand what is expected of me and who is expecting it. You would think, “Well, Marc, they want you to be funny.” Not good enough. In my mind I needed to know what the angle was. Did no one else want to do this? Did someone drop out? Be honest, who said no already? Chelsea Handler? Did Chelsea Handler say no already? I don’t want Chelsea Handler’s sloppy seconds. Am I cheap? I mean, shit, I’ve been doing comedy for 25 years and I’ve been invited to this festival maybe twice before this. Which is ridiculous considering how many “new faces” I’ve tried out along the way. To their credit the festival did have me on the ‘remember these old faces’ show a few years ago but I get it. Let’s be honest. I haven’t made anyone in this room any real money. I’m currently working out of my garage. I am in a constant battle with resentment against many people in this room. So, again, why me?

You see what happened there? Within minutes the opportunity to give this speech became: “This is a set up. They’re fucking me. What kind of bullshit is this?”

That is the kind of thinking that has kept me out of the big time for my entire career.

Okay, I’m going to try to address both sides here--the industry and the comics. It’s not really an us against them situation but sometimes it feels like it is.

As I said, I have been doing standup for 25 years. I’ve put more than half my life into building my clown. That’s how I see it. Comics keep getting up on stage and in time the part of them that lives and thrives up there is their clown. My clown was fueled by jealousy and spite for most of my career. I’m the clown who recently read The War for Late Night and thought it was basically about me not being in show business. I’m the clown who thought most of John Stewart’s success was based on his commitment to a haircut. I’m the clown that thought Louis CK’s show Louie should be called fuck you Marc Maron.

Three years ago my clown was broke, on many levels, and according to my manager at the time un-bookable and without options. That was a good talk:

My manager: Nobody wants to work with you. I can’t get you an agent. I cant you get you any road work. I can’t get you anything.
Me: Uh, okay, so, uh, what do we do…..
My manager: Are you looking at my hair? Why are you looking at my hair? Does it look bad?
Me: No, it’s fine. What should I do?
My manager: I don’t know what we’re going to do. Stop looking at my hair. Am I fat? Seriously, am I?

My first thought after that meeting was: I’m going to kill myself. My second thought was: I could get a regular job. My third thought was: I need a new manager. I think I had the order wrong. I drove home defeated. 25 years in and I had nothing. I was sitting alone in my garage in a house I was about to lose because of that bitch--lets not get into that now--and I realized. Fuck, you can build a clown, and they might not come. I was thinking, “It’s over. It’s fucking over.” Then I thought: “You have no kids, no wife, no career, certainly no plan B. Why not kill yourself?” I thought about suicide a lot—not because I really wanted to kill myself. I just found it relaxing to know that I could if I had to.

Then I thought maybe I could get a regular job. Even though the last regular job I had was in a restaurant like 25 years ago. I said to myself, I still got it! It’s like riding a bike. Just get me a spatula and watch me flip some eggs or some burgers. Then I thought, “What are you fucking crazy? You think they’re going to hire a 47 year old man who’s last restaurant job was part time short order cook in 1987?How are you going to explain those lost years? Are you going to show the bar manager your Conan reel. You’re an idiot.”

Broke, defeated and career-less, I started doing a podcast in that very garage where I was planning my own demise. I started talking about myself on the mic with no one telling me what I could or couldn’t say. I started to reach out to comics. I needed help. Personal help. Professional help. Help. I needed to talk. So, I reached out to my peers and talked to them. I started to feel better about life, comedy, creativity, community. I started to understand who I was by talking to other comics and sharing it with you. I started to laugh at things again. I was excited to be alive. Doing the podcast and listening to comics was saving my life. I realized that is what comedy can do for people.

You know what the industry had to do with that?

Absolutely nothing.

When I played an early episode for my now former manager in his office thinking that I was turning a career corner and we finally had something he listened for 3 minutes and said, “I don’t get it.”

I don’t blame him. Why would he? It wasn’t on his radar or in his wheel house. There’s no package deal, no episode commitment, no theaters to sell out. He had no idea what it was or how to extract money from it AND I did it from my garage. Perfect. It took me 25 years to do the best thing I had ever done and there was no clear way monetize it.

I’m ahead of the game.

So, back to the offer for this speech. I thought wait that’s the reason they want me—I do this podcast out of my garage that has had over 20 million downloads in less than two years. It is critically acclaimed. I have interviewed over 200 comics, created live shows, I am writing a book, I have a loyal borderline-obsessive fan base who bring me baked goods and artwork, I have evolved as a person and a performer, I am at the top of my game and no one can tell me what to do—I built it myself, I work for myself, I have full creative freedom.

I am the future of show business. Not your show business, my show business. They want me to do this speech because I am the future of our industry.

Then my new manager got back to me and said, “They liked the jokes you did when you introduced Kindler a couple of years ago. That’s why they asked you.”

So, it was the jokes about them, you, the industry, that got them interested. Hmm. Fuck. That was like two jokes. I’m not good at insult comedy. Any time I do roast type of jokes they go to far, cut too deep, too true, gets me in trouble.

I think the president of Comedy Central, Doug Herzog, is still mad at me. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize again to Doug. Years ago, when Doug Herzog and Eileen Katz first moved to Comedy Central from MTV and began re-tooling it I performed at a Comedy Central party at Catch A Rising Star. I remember the joke I did. I said, “I am glad the that Doug and Eileen moved from MTV to Comedy Central because I think that all television should look like a 24 hour, round the clock, pie-eating contest.” I don’t know if it was the venom I said it with or what but two days later I was in Eileen Katzs office with my old manager, who was having a great hair day, apologizing to Eileen for that joke. So, I am not the guy to make you industry people laugh at yourselves. Kindler will do that in couple of days. And if I could, in the spirit of making an amends, I would like to apologize to Doug Herzog, again, and say, I am sorry Doug. Since you have been there, Comedy Central has become the best pie-eating contest on television.

Yes, I have been bitter in my life. I have felt slighted by the industry and misunderstood. I have made mistakes and fucked things up. That’s the kind of comic I am. It isn’t unusual. I will admit and accept my faults and mistakes but It bothers me that the industry takes comics for granted and makes us jump through stupid hoops and lie to us—constantly. I get it. You think it’s part of your job but how about a little respect for us—the commodity. The clowns.

When I was kid watching comedians on TV and listening to their records they were the only ones that could make it all seem okay. They seemed to cut through the bullshit and disarm fears and horror by being clever and funny. I don’t think I could have survived my childhood without watching standup comics. When I started doing comedy I didn’t understand show business. I just wanted to be a comedian. Now after 25 years of doing standup and the last two years of having long conversations with over 200 comics I can honestly say they are some of the most thoughtful, philosophical, open minded, sensitive, insightful, talented, self centered, neurotic, compulsive, angry, fucked up, sweet, creative people in the world.

I love comedians. I respect anyone who goes all in to do what I consider a noble profession and art form. Despite whatever drives us towards this profession i.e. insecurity, need for attention, megalomania, poor parenting, anger, a mixture of all of the above. Whatever it is, we comics are out there on the front lines of our sanity.

We risk all sense of security and the possibility of living stable lives to do comedy. We are out there in B rooms, dive bars, coffee shops, bookstores and comedy clubs trying to find the funny, trying to connect, trying to interpret our problems and the world around us and make it into jokes. We are out there dragging our friends and co-workers to comedy clubs at odd hours so we can get on stage. We are out there desperately tweeting, updating statuses and shooting silly videos. We are out there driving ten hours straight to feature in fill in blank city here. We are out there acting excited on local morning radio programs with hosts whose malignant egos are as big as their regional popularity. We are out there pretending we like club owners and listening to their ‘input’. We are out there fighting the good fight against our own weaknesses: battling courageously with internet porn, booze, pills, weed, blow, hookers, hangers on, sad angry girls we can’t get out of our room, twitter trolls and broken relationships. We are out there on treadmills at Holiday Inn expresses and Marriot suite hotels trying to balance out our self-destructive compulsions, sadness and fat. We are up making our own waffles at at 9:58 AM two minutes before the free buffet closes and thrilled about it. Do not underestimate the power of a lobby waffle to change your outlook.

All this for what? For the opportunity to be funny in front of as many people as possible and share our point of view, entertain, tell some jokes, crunch some truths, release some of the tension that builds up in people, in the culture and ourselves.

So, if I could I would like to help out some of the younger comics here with some things that I learned from experience in show business. Most of these only refer to those of us that have remained heat-less for most of our careers. I can’t speak to heat. I do know that symbiosis with the industry is necessary after a certain point and there are great agents, managers and executives who want to make great product but for the most part it’s about money. To quote a promoter who was quoting an older promoter in relation to his involvement with the Charlie Sheen tour: “Don’t smell it, sell it.” True story.

The list

1. Show business is not your parents. When you get to Hollywood you should have something more than, “Hey! I’m here! When do we go on the rides?”

2. Try to tap into your authentic voice, your genuine funny and build from there.

3. Try to find a manager that gets you.

4. Nurturing and developing talent is no longer relevant. Don’t expect it. If you want to hear about that talk to an agent, manager or comic from back in the day….but don’t get sucked in. They’ll pay for the meal but they’ll feed on you naïvete to fuel their diminishing relevance and that can be a soul suck.

5. If you have a manager there is a language spoken by them and their assistants that you should begin to understand. For example when an assistant says: He’s on a call or I’ll try to get her in the car or he just stepped out or I don’t have her right now or their in a meeting or he’s at lunch or she’s on set or or or…. All of those mean: They’ve got no time for you. You have nothing going on. Go make something happen so they can take credit for it.

6. Sometimes a ‘general meeting’ just means that executives had an open day, needed to fill out their schedule and want to be entertained. Don’t get your hopes up.

7. If your manager says any of these: We’re trading calls or I have a call in to them or they said you killed it or they love you or their having a meeting about you or we’re waiting to hear back or they’re big fans. These usually mean: You didn’t get it and someone will tell you second hand.

8. There is really no business like show business. Except maybe prostitution. There’s a bit of overlap there.

9. This is not a meritocracy. Get over yourself.

10. Dave Rath will be you manager

The amazing thing about being a comedian is that no one can tell us to stop even if we should. Delusion is necessary to do this. Some of you aren’t that great. Some of you may get better. Some of you are great…now. Some of you may get opportunities even when you stink. Some of you will get them and they will go nowhere and then you have to figure out how to buffer that disappointment and because of that get funnier or fade away. Some of you may be perfectly happy with mediocrity. Some of you will get nothing but heartbreak. Some of you will he heralded as geniuses and become huge. Of course all of you think that one describes you….hence the delusion necessary to push on. Occasionally everything will synch up and you will find your place in this racket. There is a good chance it will be completely surprising and not anything like you expected.

I’m not a household name, I’m not a huge comic, I have not made millions of dollars but I am okay and I make a living. I’m good with that. Finally. Comedy saved my life but also destroyed it in many ways. That is the precarious balance of our craft and some of us don’t survive it. We lost a few truly great comics this year.

Greg Giraldo isn’t here which is weird. He was always here. Greg was a friend of mine and of many of you. He wasn’t a close friend but we were connected by the unspoken bond between comics. After talking to hundreds of comics I know that bond runs deeper than just friendship and is more honest than most relationships. He certainly was a kindred spirit. I battle demons every day and as of today, I am winning, or at least have a détente. Greg lost that fight. He was a brilliant comedian but in a way that is rare. He was not a dark angry cloud. He was smart, current, honest, courageous and did it with humility and light. He was a comedic force of nature that is profoundly missed. He was just a guy that always seemed so alive that accepting that he isn’t is hard and sad. He is survived by his ex wife, his kids and his youtube videos. We miss him.

In an interesting twist this year, Robert Schimmel did not die of cancer but he did pass. Bob was a class act. A legacy to true blue lounge comedy and an impeccable craftsman of the story and the joke. He battled a horrible disease for over decade and brought a lot of laughs and hope to people affected by cancer. He made me laugh—a lot. I listen to his CDs if I need a real laugh. That is as honest a tribute as I can give. I miss him and I am sad I didn’t get to talk to him more.

Mike DeStefano as a person went through more shit than I can even imagine. Some of it self generated, all of it tragic and mind blowing, and he overcame it. How? With comedy. I recently talked to his brother, Joe who said, “Mike had a tough time living until he found comedy and then it was the opposite. Doing comedy is what saved him. His comedy helped a lot of people and it helped him.” I’d never met a guy more at peace with his past and present and more excited about the a future that sadly isn’t going to happen now but he knew in his heart he was living on borrowed time and everyday was a gift.

All of these guys should have had many more years of life between them but they didn’t. These guys were unique in that they were real comics, hilarious, deep, hard core, risk taking, envelope pushing artists that made a profound impact on people and changed minds and lives with their funny. I know that to be true.

I’m not sure if there is one point to this speech or any really. If you are a comic hang in there if you can because you never know what’s going to happen or how it is going to happen and there are a lot more ways and places for it to happen. I know my place in show business now. It’s in my garage. Who knows where yours is but there is truly nothing more important than comedy….well, that may be an overstatement. There are a few things more important than comedy but they aren’t funny……until we make them funny.

Godspeed. Have a good festival. We’re good right?


On the show this week, I talk to Andrew Dice Clay and his son Max. I’ve always liked Dice and I was nervous to talk to him. I didn’t want to piss him off. I wanted to get a sense of who he is because I really didn’t have any idea. I had no idea he was a father and for some reason that was surprising to me so I had to talk to his son as well. On Thursday, I share my trip to San Antonio with you. I wander the city with Texas comic Lucas Molandes. It was a fun ride.

Enjoy,
Maron