Maron-Obama-Podcast-web-2

Lock the Gates

10 Essential WTF With Marc Maron Podcast Episodes

Watch Maron Wednesdays at 9P on IFC.

Posted by on
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.)

IFC_ComedyCrib_ThePlaceWeLive_SeriesImage_web

SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

via GIPHY

IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

IFC_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

Neurotica_series_image_1

IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

via GIPHY

Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.