I've been a fan of Marc Maron's podcast, WTF for a wee while now - with a bit of a break in the middle. I first started listening to it last year some time, after a few recommendations actually. I read about it, had one or two friends mention it. I knew a little bit about Maron, his comedy hadn't ever meant a whole lot to me but I liked his voice and his commitment to turning up, in terms of the podcasting. That meant a lot. Here was a guy who had found something to do and he was going to do it. And he did. He still is. And then of course there were the guests. Everybody - and we're talking everyone in comedy (with only one or two notable exceptions) and a bunch of actors too. Musicians also.
He gets great guests.
But he helps them to be great guests.
Maron's great skill, as an interviewer, as a person engaged in the conversation, as someone focussed on creating a dialogue, is to get people to open up, to ditch the standard line in PR-speak, to forget about just plugging the album/tour, movie/show and/or book - people can do that too - but it's what he gets from there in and around that that matters. Maron gets great interviews happening even when he largely ignores the way a structured interview should run. In fact it's largely because of that.
Earlier this week his 500th episode was broadcast. Even if you don't usually check out podcasts, even if you're new to his, I would recommend this as the place to start. You are filled in on the culture and concept of the show. It's as much about his life - his struggle to find his place and to aim for some peace in this world - as it ever is about finding out that Robin Williams paid out some people if/when he was accused of joke-stealing, or that Kevin Smith hated working with Bruce Willis, or that everyone who has ever been on SNL can instantly and always do an impersonation of Lorne Michaels.
These are interesting parts of the shows, absolutely. But to get to that stuff, to make that happen, Maron puts himself out there. Huge amounts. He lays it on pretty thick actually and some people might not like his style. And hey, fair enough. I didn't enjoy all of his recent book - I thought it just fell away in the second half, particularly when he used it as a hiding place for lazy joke filler/fodder and overused routines. And I think that put me off the show for a bit - even though the book and the show are two separate things.
But I've been back enjoying the WTF podcast for some time now, still catching up on the material from the archive and trying my best to keep up with the new shows as they roll out twice a week.
But this week's first show - the 500th episode - is really moving. And it's intense. And it's beautiful. And you won't get that on any kind of "old fashioned" radio.
Podcasting isn't exactly new. The novelty of it has in fact worn off - it's pretty easy to hear when people are phoning it in, or when the idea doesn't stand up past the first few episodes. But Maron's show is just getting stronger.
You listen for the guests. But you also listen to him. You become privy to his world, or part of it at least - just as he becomes a part of yours.
I've found his dedication to his type of work hugely inspiring. And as he says at one point on the 500th episode, he feels sick at the thought of missing a day, of not getting a show out there. There's a compulsion. It's something he must do.
I guess I related to that also.
Clear yourself a slot of time this week, or next and give the show a listen.