When Marc Maron began his comedy podcast in 2009, the stand-up comedy veteran had already burned through hosting stints on Comedy Central, Air America and VH1. He figured that for a title, the best way to sum up his agenda was with the three letters that serve as shorthand for ‘what the f—?’ And thus, “WTF with Marc Maron” was born.
“Initially, I didn’t know where the show was going to go,” he says. “I just thought that in terms of where I was at in my life, and where the world was at, that it seemed to be some sort of elemental and very important philosophical question that could be applied to anything.”
Some 248 episodes later, and Maron seems to have found something that really works. “WTF” is the second-most downloaded podcast on iTunes, second only to “This American Life.” Twice a week he invites comedians and other well-known personalities into the garage of his Los Angeles home to discuss their lives, careers and opinions.
“I don’t research that much,” he says. “It’s more about the conversation. I just go to a few Web pages, make sure I don’t miss that they’ve won the Pulitzer Prize or something.”
In the driver’s seat
Maron has an easy rapport with his guests, many of whom he has worked with, but that doesn’t mean it’s as simple as it sounds.
“I get nervous,” he says. “Not as much as I used to, but I was nervous when I drove to Jonathan Winters’ house. I was nervous when Ben Stiller came over to my house, even though he’s a peer. And Conan came to my house. I was nervous for that. I’ve been on his show, but these people don’t ordinarily come to my house to hang out. So it’s a little nerve-wracking, because all of a sudden you’re in the driver’s seat with Conan O’Brien, who drives a show every single night. Most people drive out here themselves. Granted, sometimes the cars they show up in, you will never see in this neighborhood.”
If you go
On Friday, Maron will be on stage two separate times as part of the Magner’s Comedy Festival at the Wilbur Theatre (246 Tremont St., Boston). At 7 p.m. he performs a set of stand-up comedy, and then at 10 p.m. he conducts a live version of the “WTF” podcast. Since Maron got his start in comedy in the Hub, he chose to invite guests that he used to open for in the 1980s, including Kenny Rogerson, Mike Donovan, Tony V, Frank Santorelli, Jimmy Tingle and Barry Crimmins.
“When I started out, these were the guys,” says Maron. “I’m paying my respect and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them. … I definitely have memories.”
For more info, visit www.thewilbur.com.
To hear Maron talk more about his podcast ... on our podcast, click here.