Dispatches from the Head

I have work to do on myself.

The truth, people-

Hello. How are you? If you are in the Bay Area this week I will be at the Nourse Theater in conversation with Adam Savage from Mythbusters on Wednesday, October 16th. It’s a City Arts and Lectures event. Should be cool. I assume I will be sitting in a comfortable chair next to Adam, chatting. It’s always weird sitting in a big comfy chair next to someone in the same kind of chair and we’ll be the only things on stage. Two people, two chairs, cozy and isolated in a big space in front of people. Should be good.

I’m glad everyone is digging the new special, "Thinky Pain." As the days go by I become more proud of it. By the time I finished overseeing editing and waiting, I never wanted to watch it again . I don’t really need to. The positive response has been overwhelming. I think it’s the best standup work I’ve done. It looks like my life’s work. Every set I do feels that way. It becomes less about the material and more about the ongoing conversation of my life. So, more to be revealed as time goes on.

On the show this week, I'll fill you in a bit on what has been a couple of the most difficult weeks of my life. It’s weird to have the relationship with you that I do. I can’t keep things hidden because I would feel like I was being disingenuous or dishonest. I don’t think most entertainers have the same problem.

The reason that it has been awful is that my relationship with Jessica has ended. I ended it. We had big plans and hopes and it’s over and I am heartbroken and very sad. As you know I am not the easiest man to live with and we had a very lively and passionate and difficult relationship at times. We have been trying to make things work and move forward but it just became too hard and too toxic. It takes two to toxic. I love her very much and I care for her more than anyone I’ve ever been with and I couldn’t make it work. Ending a relationship with someone I still love and care about is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and there’s guilt, sadness, disappointment, heartache, loneliness and anger that I am dealing with and will deal with for a while. I know it was the right thing to do. I want her to be happy and have the life that she wants to have. It just can't be with me. She is a great person with a big heart. I have work to do on myself and I want to be happy as well. I just couldn’t do it in the relationship we had.

I’m not sure I’m cut out for relationships. I keep screwing them up. Maybe someday. Harry Nilsson has been helping me through it.

This week, I talk to Natasha Lyonne about one of the most harrowing drug phases I have ever heard or talked about on the show. The talk was recorded before the release and success of "Orange is the New Black." We talked just before it came out. I’m thrilled for her success and thankful that she shared her story with me. On Thursday I talk to the food critic, Simon Majumdar. I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw him on Iron Chef he always sort of annoyed me but I wanted to know what a food critic’s brain was like and it turns out he’s a sweet smart guy with a nice story. Hope you dig.

Thanks for being there for me.


Boomer lives!



On Facebook


Amy October 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

:( So sorry to hear that. May you find some solace in music or whatever gets you through the day. Your podcasts and comedy have certainly helped me through some tough times. Keep strong, and carry on doing what you do best. VIRTUAL KUMBAYA HUGS AND STUFF.

Elise Razavi October 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

You still deserve a loving and dedicated relationship that has realistic expectations, Marc. I don’t doubt that the outpouring from your fans in response to this news will range from heartfelt condolences to proposals of marriage/hot sex, and I hope you do whatever that is necessary (but safe) for you to recover from this.

James October 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Sorry to hear this. Shows a lot of courage Marc, I know you said in the past you would rather marry someone you should break up with because it’s easier. I always related to that idea, and I am happy to see you realizing it doesn’t have to be that way.  I hope the best for you. Love the Netflix special as well.

Ivan October 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm

*nudge of encouragement* chin up mark!

meekwild October 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Marc..I knew something big was up.  I’m so sorry to hear about the break up.  I met Jessica at one of your shows and she was (and still is) awesome. We sat next to each other and she was gracious and kind as I tried to pry into her life with you and simultaneously hide my excitement that I got to sit next to her.  I was, in the end, more star-struck by her than by you!  She was so supportive of you as you came out before the show nervously looking for some kind of affirmation.  BUT - I understand that you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.  It’s better to walk away from someone than run away from them.  I think the best medicine for you right now and is to go and listen to a bunch of your past and early shows.  You have grown exponentially since you started.  You are good at prying open the lives of others to learn shit and now you’ve got this incredible archive to do some reverse medicine for yourself.  Marc, your shows have changed my life and made it richer and so much better (especially when I feel like shit or at the worst moments of my life like after I got my husband’s cancer diagnosis) so go and sit and take a listen.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry! It’s better than CATS (well, maybe not..but…)!  Feel strong, be strong and heal. You’ll get through this.  It will hurt.

Paul Taberham October 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Sending you brotherlove, buddy. Hang in there.

Jessica October 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm

“The longest, most arduous trip in the world is often the journey from the head to the heart.  Until that round trip is completed, we remain at war with ourselves.  And, of course, those at war with themselves are apt to make casualties of others, including friends and loved ones.” -William Sloane Coffin

The reason that so many people connect so deeply with you and your work is because you openly explore and share how difficult this head to heart journey can be.  You have shared with courageous honesty, and have touched innumerable people with your stories.  I hope that you know just how much you’ve helped others, and that we are with you.

Nothing can take away the heartache and the pain, but I wish you peace.  Keep on talking, we’ll be listening.

Justin October 14, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Hey, Marc,

I’m sure you know this, but you should really know it, confirm it, hear it: You are loved. You are loved by people like me who can’t wait to hear the latest podcast, hear not only what’s been going on with you but the elegant way in which you open up other people’s lives for us to see.  Your interviews are the work of a man who loves people. 

I don’t doubt that you’re making this decision for the right reasons (short of flirting with Alex Guarnaschelli, ha ha).  I don’t know anything about Jessica, and I only discovered your show a few months ago.  I wish you both the very best.  Rock on.

ely breckenridge October 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I’m very sorry to hear about your relationship ending. It’s usually much more difficult to do the right thing than the wrong one. I’m proud of you for doing what you feel is right. You are a wonderful person and I hope you feel better soon.

Bob October 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm

1) I respect your work very much
2) It must be weird living out this public/private life of yours.
3) Shit happens, periodically, to most of us, and/or the ones we care for, yet we are not sharing it with tens of thousands of people.  Yes, that must be truly weird.
3) Do you think it is better to work through the pain your way (having tens of thousands of sympathetic, but not actual, friends)?  Hell these kids today, do they even know what a friend is?  Some schmuck who clicks ‘thumbs up’?
4) Anyway, the last time a woman ripped out my heart was 2002.  I decided, much too late, that I was not built for relationships.  I now abstain from them. Yes I am a sad f**k sometimes, but I am a free, sad f**k.  Which is sad in and of itself.  I am a Russian nesting egg of sadness.  Sorry, this is starting to sound like a bit.
5) Feel better buddy, even though I am not your actual buddy.
6) At least my story has a happy ending. I have discovered a new love. Listmaking.

Chris October 15, 2013 at 2:14 am

Aw man, I’m so sorry… dealing with real-life like this always feels like a being a test pilot, sometimes you have to punch out. Learning how to lookout for yourself like this without piling on the guilt and shame is one of the most hardest lessons to learn. Pulling for you. Pulling for everyone who’s facing tough times.

Ron Wood tells a story about how when his father bought Young Ron his first guitar, he advised him “if you know how to play guitar, you’ll always have a friend.” Best advice I heard to get through the darkness.

Andrew October 15, 2013 at 3:08 am

Damn, dude. That sucks. I’m a total stranger to you, but what you do means a lot to me and (as you can obviously see) many other people. Hopefully the work you need to do can get done and you find the happiness you deserve.

Todd October 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Marc - long time fan here, sorry to hear what you’re going through. I’m guessing you probably are in no mood for random suggestions from strangers, and I’m not going to do that whole “I know what you’re going through” because I don’t. Just try not to beat yourself up too much over it. Personally, I’ve never had relationships last for more than a few months, and after 39 years, I sometimes wonder if I’m insane for trying to make it work (repeating the same behavior over & over, expecting different results). So you’re not the only person out there wondering if you’re wired for relationships. Feel fortunate that you’ve been through it and lived to talk about it. And you have friends you can talk to about if you want. Good luck and thanks for the laughs!

Shannon October 16, 2013 at 1:21 am

Just the fact that you were able to recognize the issue and make this decision, as painful as it was, shows how far you’ve come in the last few years.  I’ve enjoyed hearing the enormous growth since your first podcast - be proud of that growth!  You are no longer the same man you were, you’re doing the good work and I am looking forward to good things for you.

Colleen in MA October 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

Thank you for sharing this with us. Breakups sure suck but it sounds like you handled it in the most caring and healthy way possible, for both you and Jess. Looking back at some of my bad breakups I sure wish I had had the courage and foresight to act with more grace. But you did it! Hang in there, brother.

Heather October 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I’ve done this. It is so, so hard, and the total certainty that it’s the right thing to do can be a cold comfort, but it is a comfort, especially later, when things are not so raw. Take care of yourself and remember you have lots of people on your side, always.

Kelli October 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm

It takes balls it end things…be well Marc

Annie October 17, 2013 at 7:45 am

Listening today, as I do every Monday and Thursday I was very sad to hear about you and Jessica. My heart goes out to you Marc. Wishing you all the good stuff you can handle. xo

David October 17, 2013 at 8:16 am

Don’t give up on love! You certainly don’t want to end up making lists the rest of your life (just kidding, Bob!). And more importantly, don’t give up on yourself. You’ve been a beacon to thousands of people, and many of us have learned something important by listening to your podcast over the years. And we won’t give up on you.

Sending you virtual hugs and pints of guilt-free chocolate ice cream (with some vanilla, to cut it).

enan October 17, 2013 at 9:37 pm

fuck you =/, ... and good luck

wilberfan October 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Weird.  I was shocked to hear about this breakup—but strangely *relieved*, too.  I guess because I could see you heading towards fatherhood—out of a sense of duty, or something.  But not because it was something you really wanted for *yourself*...

Maybe I’m projecting.  But it feels like you did the right (if hard) thing—and that you KNOW that you did the right thing…

We’re all here for ya, bud…

andrewlapo October 18, 2013 at 4:28 am

I’m sorry for your heartbreak. Stay strong Maron—We’ll always root for you;)


kurt October 21, 2013 at 2:39 am

keep your head up Marc. I was so sad to hear your relationship ended but i’m sure you did it for the right reasons.

Enrique November 05, 2013 at 12:12 am

Welp, I missed the last few weeks and knew something was up. I’m going to say something that may be both hard and easy to hear. You did the right thing. People are either good at marriage/relationships or they are not. Statistically (sorry) someone who has been married twice before has a 80% chance of divorcing their third wife. You somehow knew this and did the right thing in the end. I’m sure Jessica is a wonderful person, everyone of your guest who met her said so and such nice things they said but she is naive and looking for a challenge. She worked with difficult children and fell in love with you for all the wrong reasons. She is so wonderful that you agreed to the relationship because “anyone would be a fool not to fall for this girl”. It made sense, except it didn’t. Not in the way that the world works not in a real way it sounded good on paper but the practical stuff will always trounce the dream. If you ever date again I’m hoping you will find that person who makes it easy. It won’t be anything like Jessica, it will be comfortable not exhilarating, you will nod to each other instead of having to explain almost everything. Jess will be fine, she will move away probably up north or to the other coast and your history with her will be a legend, a tale she will talk about only with her daughter when her daughter is 17 and she needs to connect. Marc you don’t have kids you have thousands of younger siblings that look up to you as a good example and a terrible warning. Be well dude.

Nobody November 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Hey Marc,

I enjoy your show and share many (most) of your neuroses. I’m writing this from a place of love and caring, based on what I’ve learned over the years from being in a long term relationship with one person. Relationships are hard. They are supposed to be hard. They are supposed to be the hardest thing in your entire life, in part because they are the most important. This is why they are rewarding. The difference between a relationship that lasts and a relationship that doesn’t is, in large part, whether or not the people in the relationship are willing to do the hard work that comes along with it. Being in a relationship that lasts requires humility, selflessness, and sacrifice, and above all, sticking to it when shit gets hard. I’m sorry that your relationship has ended, but based on what you’ve said, it has ended because “it just became too hard and too toxic.” My advice to you, if you don’t want to keep having new relationships that end for the same reason, or if you don’t want to just live alone, is to not end a relationship when it becomes too hard, and to not paint the relationship as “toxic” (i.e. beyond repair), simply because it is too hard. It’s supposed to be too hard. And sometimes it takes a caustic chemical to clear out the bullshit that we hold within ourselves. That’s how we change, that how our relationships grow. If you don’t want to change, if you don’t want to grow, then it would be better for you and for everyone that you not be in a relationship. But if you do, my suggestion is to keep going when things get hard. To try harder. To look at yourself and see where you can grow.

My parents have been together for 45 years. I wanted them to divorce so many times. My dad is an asshole. He used to beat my mother. That’s a get out of marriage free card if I ever saw one. They are still together. Now that he is old and no longer belligerent, now they she is old and doesn’t have a lot of friends around (and her asshole daughter doesn’t call as much as she should) they have each other. They have a history and a life, together, and I can see that over time they are both better people because of it. Sure, they started out in a shitty place, but they worked through it and stayed together. I once asked my mother why she stayed, when she had no way of knowing that my dad would stop being abusive. She said, “because I love him, and that’s what love is, it’s staying.”

Anyway, I hope that was in some way helpful to you. I wish you happiness, if only for the happiness you bring to so many.

TheRightOne January 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

It is O.K.  You are bigger than ever now and you want to… explore the possibilities.  It is O.K.  A little guilt is normal.

Enjoy YOUR time.  It doesn’t often come around more than once.