Wringing laughs from the tragedy of living 

For a comedy podcast, Marc Maron’s WTF has some painfully unfunny moments. But that’s almost inevitable. When an interview passes the one-hour mark it becomes an in-depth psychological profile, at least at a time when most of our conversations take place via Facebook status updates. In recent interviews, Andy Dick admitted to living in a shed behind his ex-wife’s house and Conan O’Brien admitted to being jealous of the terminal kid in Death Be Not Proud. The distinction between comedy and tragedy only exists in theater.

Maron — who’s gone from Sam Kinison adoptee, to Comedy Central show host, to Air America radio personality, to podcast interviewer with a memorable cameo in Almost Famous — has a gift for straddling that line, drawing cathartic laughter from personal pain and frustration. It’s more fun than it sounds.

I remember an episode of WTF where you recalled a nightmare experience you had in San Antonio …

I don’t know if it was a nightmare, but it was sorta close. It was when I was working at River Center Comedy Club. The condo that they used to put you up in was just `one of` the most depressing, disgusting holes I’d been in in a long time. And it was just one of those moments when you see exactly who you are and where your life is when you’re sitting in a comedy condo. It was more relative to my state of mind at the time. When your state of mind equals the state of the condo, that’s when you know you’re in trouble.

Does comedy ever work as a coping mechanism during a painful experience?

No, I think it’s more of a post-traumatic coping mechanism. Things happen that are out of your control most of the time, and when they’re emotional or frightening or crazy, when you’re in them, you’re really just experiencing that. Later, in order to deal with the anger or whatever `I’m` feeling, I process it on stage, or on the mic, and that becomes the coping mechanism. It helps me put it into perspective.

Are there aspects of your personality that you’ve decided just don’t work onstage?

There may be parts of me that are unexplored. How do you talk about the good things, the vulnerability? I do it, but I’d like to do it some more. There’s gotta be things I like and feelings of joy and excitement as opposed to crisis management. And I think that the evolution of the expression of those things would be to figure out what the fuck those things are.

It can’t be good for you emotionally to only talk about bad experiences and bad thoughts.

It’s not bad, it’s just what our brain does. I don’t think they’re negative, I think people can relate to them. My problem is that you don’t want to get too heavy … but I do. If this interview is meant to get people in to a comedy show, I think we should, you know, make it sound like it’s happy.

 

Marc Maron’s three-night run at Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club is Friday through Sunday, May 13-15. Visit lolsanantonio.com or call (210) 541-8805 for tickets and show information.

 


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