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Lock the Gates

10 Essential WTF With Marc Maron Podcast Episodes

Watch Maron Wednesdays at 9P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Marc Maron/Instagram

Hey all you “What the F–kers” and “What the F–kniks.” You may think you know everything there is to know about WTF, the comedy podcast that helped turn Marc Maron into an institution, but everyone has their blind spots. Have you listened to all 697 (and counting) episodes? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Maybe you missed one or two of the quintessential interviews. Or maybe you’re new to the podcast and are looking for some episodes to start with. With the entire WTF archive available on the Howl Premium app, now is a great time to get caught up on one of the best podcasts out there. We gathered together 10 episodes that define what WTF is all about, in all its cat-loving, Nicorette-chewing, Lorne Michaels-obsessing glory. Strap on those ear buds and give them a listen.

10. Steve Rannazzisi

Dmitri Von Klein
Dmitri Von Klein/WTF with Marc Maron

At first listen, there didn’t seem to be anything exceptional about Steve Rannazzisi’s episode of WTF. He mainly talked about growing up Catholic, and his life as a stand-up and sitcom star on FX’s The League. The one truly memorable moment was his recounting of working at Merrill Lynch on 9/11, and his narrow escape from the collapsing Twin Towers. It was an emotional story, and one he was clearly uncomfortable recounting. It’s only in hindsight that his reticence begins to make a bit more sense, because the story turns out to be complete fiction. As revealed by The New York Times, Rannazzisi never worked for Merrill Lynch and was actually in Midtown Manhattan on that fateful day. Before the story broke Rannazzisi called Marc to apologize for using his show to perpetuate a lie. Addressing the controversy on his podcast, Maron said, “I need you guys [the listeners] to know that this is not 60 Minutes. If someone comes on this show and tells a story about their life, I will take what they’re saying at face value. If people come on here and make stuff up, that’s on them.” It’s only now, with hindsight, that the episode becomes a fascinating look at self-delusion. (Click here to listen.)


9. Robin Williams

@marcmaron
@marcmaron

After Robin Williams took his own life in 2014, Maron reposted his 2010 interview with the comedian, saying, “It changed my life and it changed many people’s perception of Robin Williams.” Williams tackled his battles with depression and addiction head on in the episode, saying at one point that his drinking was “trying to fill the hole.” It was an incredibly revealing, raw interview with a comedy legend, and sadly helps frame the hows and whys of Robin Williams’ untimely death. (Click here to listen to the episode.)


8. Louis C.K. Two-Parter

FX Productions
FX Productions

As young comics, Louis C.K. and Marc were close friends. They came up together in the late ’80s, playing the same clubs, hitting on the same girls, and sharing a unique bond. But as their careers diverged, and jealousies bubbled up, they grew apart. At one point, Maron even asked Louis to stop calling him, because all he ever did was talk about himself. That is the backstory to this emotionally raw, and yet still funny two-part episode of WTF, in which two old friends (who happen to be world class comedians) confront their relationship and start anew as we listen in. It’s one of the most relatable and human episodes of a podcast filled with them. (Click here to listen.) 


7. Lorne Michaels

JP Spence
J.P Spence/YouTube

Lorne Michaels was always Marc Maron’s great white whale. Twenty some years ago, Maron met Michaels to talk about taking over the Weekend Update desk on SNL. It did not go well (at least in Marc’s mind), and had haunted the neurotic comedian for years. Fast forward a couple decades and Maron began his podcast, grilling every guest with a connection to Michaels in an attempt to understand the man behind his greatest career regret. But somehow, it was never enough. He wanted the comedy guru himself. It took years of trying, fighting through unreturned calls and scheduling hang-ups, but he finally landed the interview, and it terrified him. As he walked into Michaels’ 30 Rock office, the SNL creator can be heard saying, “This is the scene of the crime.” The stage set, Maron and Michaels dug into what really happened, unpacking the moment, their relationship, and Michaels’ impact on comedy and pop culture. Still not satisfied at the conclusion of the interview, Maron set up a follow-up for the next day, and kept on unpacking. A fascinating look at both the legendary Michaels, and what happens when you finally let go of regret. (Click here to listen.)


6. President Barack Obama

@marcmaron
Marc Maron/Instagram

“I didn’t sleep great because the President of the United States is on the show today.” That’s how the episode begins. Anytime you have the leader of the free world sit down for an interview in your garage, you know you may be on to something. The whole thing feels so hyped, the fact that it’s actually a fascinating interview is almost an afterthought. Sitting Presidents don’t often engage in such intimate conversations, where free flowing topics relate more to the man than the policies he espouses. Maron, a former talk radio host on liberal leaning Air America, certainly knows how to talk politics, saying at one point, “I used to be more politically involved. I ran the country from my couch for a couple of years.” But it’s when he approaches the President as just another guy in his garage that the conversation really comes to life. Obama gets a chance to talk about racism, his childhood and his favorite comedians, while Maron gets to ask the President “how are you crazy?” Frankly, the only thing missing is Maron getting to ask Obama his thoughts on Lorne. Maybe next time. (Click here to listen.)


5. Norm Macdonald

@marcmaron
Marc Maron/Instagram

Maron has stated that this is one of his all-time favorite WTF episodes, even if he doesn’t know exactly why. He says it may be because, based on his public persona, Macdonald doesn’t seem like much of a talker. In fact, Marc was worried how the show would go, and yet when the sardonic comedian showed up, he was incredible game, really digging into his battles with drinking and gambling. And frankly, that’s what makes WTF such a special show. It’s a forum for comedians (or Presidents or musicians or filmmakers…) to reveal another side of themselves underneath the showbiz facade. Macdonald’s raw honesty was such a revelation, Maron skipped his usual post-production process, and threw the episode up almost immediately. All these years later, it’s a perfect example of what WTF can be when Maron is on point and his guests are willing to go wherever he leads them. (Click here to listen.)


4. The Onion’s Todd Hanson

The Moth
The Moth

Todd Hanson, a long-running writer and editor for The Onion, may not be the most famous name on this list, but he’s certainly responsible for one of the most fascinatingly honest episodes in WTF history. The interview starts out ordinarily enough, with the two commiserating over the New York alt-comedy scene and their shared sensibilities. It’s only in a follow-up interview, taped months down the line, that Hanson really opens up about his deeply rooted depression. With detailed precision, he takes Maron through his 2009 suicide attempt, in which he checked into a New York hotel room, wrote two letters, and then downed 60 Xanax and a bottle of scotch. He woke up 24 hours later when a maid came into the room and stumbled home, only to be found by his roommate and taken to a detox. He says this was his “second birthday,” and has recommitted himself to getting help. Maron is one of the few interviewers who can get subjects to open up about such painful and taboo subjects, and the episode stands as a high-water mark for the more humane side of the podcast. (Click here to listen.)


3. Todd Glass

Dmitri Von Klein/WTF Podcast
Dmitri Von Klein/WTF Podcast

Todd Glass, a longtime stand-up, was 47 when he guested on WTF back in 2012. With years spent on the comedy circuit, most audiences felt like they had a handle on who he was. That’s what made his “announcement” so surprising. Saying he felt an obligation to kids having a hard time admitting who they truly were, he decided it was time to come out as gay. With intellect and compassion, Glass took Maron through why he’d kept his homosexuality private for so long, and what had changed for him, before talking about his frustrations with bullying in and out of the comedy world. The episode helped put WTF on the map as the place where comedians could dive past their well-honed material. (Click here to listen.)


2. Gallagher

@FCTN_LIFE
@FCTN_LIFE

If you’re looking for one episode that perfectly encapsulates the bizarre places WTF will go, look no further. Gallagher, a novelty comedian most famous for smashing watermelons with a mallet, is not a happy person. That much is clear from this brief interview, in which he expressed frustration that others had been more successful than him, despite his own brilliance. Johnny Carson was a jerk for not liking prop comics. Kenny Rogers was an assh*le for not laughing at his Iranian Hostage Crisis-themed dick jokes. Gallagher seems downright delusional, saying he was supposed to get a network talk show, but had to leave town to make money, allowing lesser talents like Jay Leno and David Letterman to steal what he was owed. The guiding principal of his career seems to be that he “wanted to make big money.” He desperately tries to make clear that he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of him, revealing a fractured, angry man underneath his watermelon soaked facade. He ardently defends himself against calls that he’s racist and homophobic by being racist and homophobic. And then, in the end, after saying all comedians dream of working the state fairs he tours, he storms out in a fury, Maron memorably calling “aw, come on Gallagher,” after him. Much like the stage after a Gallagher performance, the prop comic reveals himself to be a complete mess. (Click here to listen.)


1. Carlos Mencia Two-Parter

Comedy Central
Comedy Central

Perhaps the most famous episode in WTF history, Marc’s 2010 chat with Carlos Mencia helped put the podcast on the map. Maron has said he tried to keep an open mind when he first booked Mencia on his show. The comedian and star of the Comedy Central sketch show Mind of Mencia was reviled in the comedy community for his hack jokes and accusations of stealing material, but Maron was hoping to get to the truth beyond the rumors. Carlos was not. Instead, he revealed just enough about himself to satiate the inquisitive host, without really opening up. By the time the first interview had ended, Maron felt like he’d been used for some comedy community PR. He ended up going back to the comedian, to take another stab at things, and that’s when Mencia’s house of cards came crumbling down. Mencia tried to address the issues of propagating racism and stealing others jokes, but he just doesn’t get why it’s all so bad which ends up being his undoing. One of the more uncomfortable interviews you’ll ever hear, it’s a must listen for comedy fans and anyone interested in the lies we all tell ourselves. (Click here to listen.)

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

sweatsgiving
It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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