Career and personal life are in the toi-toi? Considering leaping from a tall building? Do a twice-weekly podcast in your garage!
That's what worked for comic Marc Maron—the host and star of "WTF With Marc Maron"—and he’s gotten all kinds of other gigs out of it, like his current IFC show, Maron (in which he’s a not-so-loosely based version of himself—and an interview right here.
Hi, Marc. I knew you before you were depressed and way before you were hot again. How did this podcast thing start for you?
The first 10 or 11, we were at Air America. We’d gotten fired. We were thrown out of the building, so we broke into the studios after hours and did them there. It wasn’t a hostile firing. Given the total liberals they were, they rode our contracts out. But we’d bring guests up on the freight elevator. No one was the wiser. Then I moved back to L.A. and did them from my garage.
Was this an attempt to jumpstart your career?
I don’t think so. I was washed up emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially. I don’t think I had any real career aspirations. It was like the Wild West out there. I knew other guys were doing it, so I partnered up and figured out how to do it. It evolved.
But it did end up jumpstarting your career.
Definitely, without a doubt. And I’d given up completely.
When you were depressed, did you ever think about suicide?
Oh yeah. I used to ruminate a lot. I was broke and couldn’t get much comedy work. It turned out I didn’t really want to kill myself, it just made me feel better to know I could if I wanted to.
I’m sure you know that success is just a Band-Aid for depression, though. How will you deal with the darker feelings if they return?
I’ve found that my problem is overwhelming anxiety that turns into dread. Because I’m doing something like the podcast—being able to be successful on your own terms and put your heart into it, and people dig it—I‘m able to gain a little self esteem, which I never had. I’m sober—I do the recovery thing. I’m in therapy. I have fear anxiety and anger problems and I’m trying to get the tools to deal with it.
This depression thing isn’t just a schtick, is it?
Your style is always candid, but how do you avoid being mean?
I try to keep the focus on me as much as possible. I’m not out to sandbag anybody. I deliberate with myself if I’m gonna say something about somebody and make sure it comes from the right place. You just kind of figure it out.
But you’ve had confrontations on the show.
A lot of them. I’m not saying that in the past I didn’t say shitty things about people, but it wasn’t in a public forum. I fucked up a lot of relationships and was kind of an asshole. On the show, I’ll say, “I’m sorry for being a dick.” Either people remember it or it was all in my head.
Who has confronted you on the show?
Louis CK—we did two episodes. We had been friends a long time and he called me out for being a bad friend. He said, “When you’re consumed with jealousy and resentment, you’re being a shitty friend.” I had detached from him completely. His point was, “I could have used a friend through some of this shit, but because you were disconnected, I was left without a friend and you are a smaller person because of that.” There’s some truth to that. Jealousy is cancerous.
It’s human, though.
It’s one of the seven deadly sins for a reason.
You even confronted the “wacky” Gallagher on the show?
Yes, for being racist and homophobic. He flipped out and left. He thought I was trying to sandbag him. He thought I came at him aggressively and he stormed out. He was rather childish.
Was that the first time people cared about Gallagher in a long time?
I do think it was. I wouldn’t have sought him out for an interview, frankly. I happened to be in Oregon and his manager reached out to me. But he was a huge comic.
Did he bring his trademark watermelon and smash it?
No watermelon—just a lot of attitude about what is right and wrong and who’s a good comic and who isn’t, and a lot of weird, angry baggage about the opportunities he didn’t get because he’s too busy working state fairs.
You’ve divorced twice, right?
I’m not good at that stuff.
You’re great at it. You’ve done it twice!
And I’ll do it again.
The third time’s the charmer.
Or three times, you’re out.
Do you blame yourself?
It had a lot to do with me. I’ll shoulder the blame. I had a river of anger running through me the whole time. I was emotionally abusive. If you’re that kind of guy, the person you’re with will have to leave.
Sorry, gotta go! Thanks for the interview, Marc.