During his two hour-long stand-up routine at BAM last Friday, comedian Marc Maron made it close to impossible for any journalists in the audience to sit down at their computers later and write about his performance. Oh, not because Maron’s act was a flawless, irreproachably funny series of jokes that left us all howling and thinking, “What is there to say about this guy? He’s on top of the world.” Rather, the reason it’s so hard to write about Maron’s act is because of a running bit he used throughout the show, in which he would break character for a moment and inhabit the persona of a snarky blogger, and tear apart his own act as he was performing it, in essence preemptively taking away the power anyone writing about it would have to critique the rare moments when his act didn’t land. But, you know, I guess I’ll just have to try anyway.
Maron, whose longtime persona portrays him as a grumpy crank, has lately had little externally imposed reason to be angry. After all, his podcast WTF with Marc Maron has surged in popularity in recent months, culminating in the most downloaded podcast on iTunes of all time: his interview with President Obama. Plus, the third season of his TV series, Maron, is being watched by more people ever before, his national Maronation tour (of which his appearance on Friday was a part) has been selling out its dates, including the show at BAM. And so it made sense that Maron entered the stage and greeted the audience with a plaintive, “Fuck. It’s gonna be hard for me to present myself as unhappy.” Because, lest we forget, “I talked to the fucking president.”
And it is true that I have rarely ever seen so buoyant an “unhappy” person before, one who declares with an unabashed glee that he is “51, twice divorced, no children, and lives alone with two cats,” but is nonetheless “winning.” Sure, he complains a lot about his struggle with things like ice cream addiction (buying ice cream—two pints, always; one crazy flavor, and one vanilla to cut it with—always ends with Maron bloated in bed, jerking off while his cats watch) and his complicated relationship with his parents (his father was semi-impressed by the Obama interview, but hopes this leads to his son getting to interview people on the TV; his mother, who doesn’t think she could’ve loved Maron if he was fat, recently revealed she’d had her boobs done around the time Maron was bar mitzvahed, meaning that his whole life/sexual awakening was a lie), but he complains with a kind of joy that definitely serves to underscore his belief that he is winning.
A few jokes fell sort of flat: On the day that the Supreme Court makes it possible for the gay men and women to get married in all 50 states, it might not be the best idea to make a joke about how terrible Fruity Pebbles are because they leave you with “gay cereal milk.” But Maron realized this and cleared it all up by saying that this was because they were the colors of the rainbow, but, well, the audience wasn’t that willing to go along with whatever Maron said.
Except, kind of we were! When Maron joked about how he was Christ-like because he “has the charisma to be a cult-leader, but not the vision,” it really rang true. After all, it’s rare to see a comedian possess a stage so assuredly for two hours, sometimes even abandoning the microphone and just projecting out into the cavernous BAM theatre, as hundreds of his fans leaned in, paying rapt attention, hanging on his every word. Meaning that, in the end, even this snarky blogger doesn’t have all that much to be snarky about.
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