Bumbershoot Comedy Report I: Marc Maron

Brian Miller

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

“After 25 years of service to the comedy industry, now I work in my garage?” Marc Maron sound both disgusted and amused at this career turn. In addition to headlining two more comedy shows at Bumbershoot, he’s joined the ranks of podcasters. He usually hosts the show WTF With Marc Maron in the garage of his L.A. home, but he’ll also create a special one-off podcast from Bumbershoot on Sunday (details after the jump). Times have changed for the veteran comic (he freely admits to being 46), and you have to go to where your audience is—even if that means the Internet.


Of course, Maron made his comedy bones just after the brick-wall boom of the Seinfeld years. And his persona as a cranky, irreverent, self-hating Jew is rooted in traditions much older than the Web. His humor alternates between the macro (religion, politics, existentialism, Wal-Mart) and the micro (himself, his cats, himself, his podcast, himself). Having done HBO specials, appeared dozens of times on Conan and Leno, and even attempted to keep Air America afloat, he’s a smart, funny performer in search of the right format. Twenty minutes—following two warm-up acts—isn’t enough time for him to get a rhythm. In fact, it took him about 10 minutes to get off his perch on a stool (arms crossed, knees pulled up) and move beyond his “I’m a shitty person” routine…


What the podcast format may provide to Maron is guests—interruptions, questions, and ideas not of his own formulation. Travel also probably helps. He’s played Bumbershoot before, and he knows our city’s reflexive liberal piety. (“Seattle’s very polite… and also a little sluggish.”) He was previously married to Seattle-born comic and author Mishna Wolff (I’m Down).


Very much a Gen X-er, Maron missed his chance at SNL or sitcom land in the ‘90s. His greater strength—beyond stand-up, where he’s so proficient as to seem slightly bored—may be monologues, in the tradition of Eric Bogosian or Spalding Gray. His one-man show Scorching the Earth presumably delves ever deeper into his personal and marital torments, but it’s never been performed in Seattle. Rather than bashing the Catholic church or Wal-Mart for easy laughs, he’s best with introspection and self-ridicule. Problem is, that doesn’t score much Web traffic from a podcast. And an off-Broadway show doesn’t pay the bills like the casino circuit. Maron needs to vent, but it’s not clear what event or venue best suits his talents.


Marc Maron WTF podcast, Comedy Stage South (Charlotte Martin Theater), 2:45 p.m. Sunday. With Tig Notaro, Comedy Stage North (Intiman Theater), 7:15 p.m. Sunday. With Tig Notaro, Comedy Stage North, 2 p.m. Monday.