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Marc Maron on Why Maron Season 3 Is the Funniest Season Yet

Marc Maron Interview

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Marc Maron is not the same person that he portrays on his IFC series, Maron. He’s not the same person he portrays in his standup. He’s not the same person he portrays on his hit podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. Though, as he’s said, some people would like him to be. These are all just different facets of the man behind the name, though not all of them paints a true picture.

As Maron is poised to debut season three of Maron, airing on IFC Thursday nights at 10p, he’s become more adept at juggling these different aspects of his life and making sure they’re distinct from one another. But what is the real Marc Maron like? We had the opportunity to chat with the comedian over the phone on everything from the current landscape of comedy to his how guests react when they first step into the Cat Ranch.

He even gave us a glimpse into his real life running errands.

Hopefully you’ll appreciate this: With the new warm weather, I went to a coffee shop recently and I wanted to get espresso with ice and it turned into the exact same situation as Marc had on the show. The barista kept explaining to me that the ice dilutes the espresso, and in my mind I’m like, all I want to do is strangle you right now. Was that a specific moment from your life, or did you or the writers come up with that?

Maron: No, that happened to me in New York at that 9th street coffee place in Chelsea Market.

When I think of instances like that I call them “Maron Moments.” Do you have similar situations in your life?

Maron: As Maron moments? Yeah, all the moments in my life.

Do you have a recent one you can share?

Maron: Well, right now I’m driving to return this amplifier. I got this tube amp and something went wrong with it and I brought it back and they fixed it, and then I brought it back and it wasn’t fixed to my liking, or maybe I’m paranoid or maybe I can’t tell whether it’s broken or not. And now I’m bringing it back again to trade it in for another one, while they figure out if there’s something wrong with this one. I went through this with two amps already. I don’t know if I’m crazy or not, and I’m completely obsessed with it… I’m literally going to have to get off this phone call for a minute to make this trade out, but that’s sort of my life. I’m just spiraling until I get this thing right and I don’t know if I’m ever going to get it right.

These kind of situations, it seems like they’re very similar to what you go through in real life. After two seasons on IFC and a third one on the way, do you think the lines between you and your character are more blurred than ever, or are you able to separate them?

Maron: No, I think they’ve gotten more separate actually. I think over the three seasons I’ve gotten more comfortable with the sort of nuts and bolts of TV production and acting and story writing and all of that stuff. So, this season is the funniest season, but there’s actually, I think, a more distinct line between my real life and the fictional life. There’s still a lot of things from my life in the show, but a lot of them are just points of departure and not necessarily the entire story. It’s always been like that, but people want to assume it’s just like my real life. But there’s a difference. The emotional component is very real and some of the stories are — more bits and pieces of stories are taken from my life, but none of it is exactly like my real life.

How do you draw that line? Let’s say with the coffee shop scene from the “Sponsor” episode. How did you figure out what you wanted to pull into the show and what you wanted to leave out?

Maron: Well, I mean, that was really an event. That was a moment. That was a moment that sort of became the bookend of a callback at the end of the story. It’s just a beat. That episode was really about me sponsoring a guy who just got out of prison. Now that never happened, but I’ve sponsored people who’ve been in recovery, but that was a fictionalization. But the emotions and the, sort of, backdrop of it are real to my life, but it never happened. So really the coffee thing was just a moment, that was just a one-joke thing, and we were able to call it back at the end, but it really wasn’t the story. So to put that moment in wasn’t really a problem, or a really big struggle to figure out what to put in a moment that really happened. And then at the end when he gives me the coffee, it just helped loop the story around, but it wasn’t the story.

You said that people would like to think that you’re the character on the show. Has that ever become an actual problem for you? Have people stopped you on the street or in public?

Maron: No, that happens all the time, and it’s mostly because of the podcast and some people know me from the show, and that happens. It’s nice to be recognized. I’ll usually be polite and engaged for as long as possible, or say hello. I don’t want to be rude, but yeah, that happens.

It seems like we have you, and then the Maron version of you, and you also have stuff you put into the podcast and stuff that you tackle with your standup. Do you have any way of blocking each of those off so they’re separate from each other?

Maron: The TV show is shot for three months, it’s written for three months, and then that’s in the can. When I’m involved in that process, I’m fully immersed in that process. I’m shooting the show and I’m writing the show, I’m producing and directing and whatever else I do. And then once that’s done, it’s done. And then the stand-up is more of an act, and I always improvise in that act on stage, and I do that at night when I do stand-up so that’s its own world. And then the podcast: I do interviews in the garage and I do the opening in the garage for the show. It’s not that hard to separate, but there’s definitely a different tone to all of them. They are slightly different versions of me…Obviously the TV show is scripted, and on the stand-up show I repeat myself a bit because that’s what you do when you have an act, but I think the podcast is the most consistently spontaneous because I never know what I’m going to get when I talk to somebody and I really don’t know what I’m going to say at the beginning of the show either. So that’s the most consistently different in a way.

Watch a clip from Maron Season Three below:

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There can be a lot of opportunities to bring improv into a scripted series. Has that ever been the case with Maron, especially with the scenes where you are reenacting a podcast? Is there more spontaneity in Maron or is it mostly scripted?

Maron: No. I think that during the podcast segment that’s where we improvise the most. A lot of the best moments of the podcast segments are improvised. I know where I want to go, but we do a lot of recording and a lot of pure improvised conversations. So there’s a lot of room for improvising during that part of the show. The rest of the show is scripted, but there’s still a lot of moments that happen that make it in that are not exactly…you know, there’s a bit of improvisation, but it is a scripted show.

Can you think of a moment from season 2, or even season 3, where you were improvising and something magical happened spontaneously?

Maron: Oh yeah. Certainly in the first episode when I was talking to Elliott Gould, that was improvised. In the hospital, that scene, that had a lot of room in it ’cause it got pretty crazy. The second episode…there are some moments that you don’t know how they’re going to play out when you’re having sex on camera. I think a couple of those moments might be improvised. Later in the season, towards the end…yeah, there’s always going to be those moments that are definitely improvised.

At the end of season 2, we see Marc in a good place. We’re finally starting to see him reflect more of where you are in your actual career. Now he’s on his way to look for a talk show. Is his happiness, is that sustainable?

Maron: Uh, no. Not if you watch season 3. Season 3 gets a little crazy. It’s sort of like the road less traveled for good reason. This season we take the character to a place where the real character has not been and we kind of put him through some things that thank God didn’t happen. I think my way of me exploring it on the show will hopefully safeguard me from not having them happen.


How do you think Marc is going to grow in season 3?

Maron: It’s hard to tell. I know what’s gonna happen. I’m not sure he grows, but some shit definitely goes down and it gets pretty gnarly at the end. He’s gonna have a whole new set of challenges if we come back for another season.

Can you talk a little bit about your hopes for season 3 even before you started filming, and if you achieved any of those hopes?

Maron: Well, I think that the idea was to always get good stories… Hold on a second, buddy. I’m bringing this stereo in.

[Marc talks to a store clerk about his problems with his amp. In typical Maron fashion, he wonders if he’s the only one who notices the problem. ]

Maron: We departed a bit from…I just think, look, we made up a lot of stuff and we were really comfortable with the world and we knew what we were writing for and I think we got the funniest season we’ve done so far. You know, I can tell you that confidently. This one is definitely the funniest one. and that’s just because, you know, we’ve been working — this is the third season, we should be comfortable with everything. And we take the character, like I said, into a place where I have never been. So there are a lot of things in this season that are like “what if?” I work through some stuff where in one episode I interview a character that is my ex-wife on the podcast. I never did that. It just sort of worked through some emotional stuff there. There’s another episode with my dad and then, I don’t even want to talk about the last couple of episodes because I don’t want to spoil anything, but we’re definitely taking the character in a place that is not my real life but it very easily could be my real life. I’d rather it not be my real life.

Are you directing any episodes in season 3?

Maron: Yeah, I directed the one about my ex-wife. It’s called “Ex-Pod.”

Can you talk about that process of going through the episode and both acting and directing yourself?

Maron: Well, I mean we did it towards the end and I was doing it along [with] my DP, my director of photography was also directing an episode. So we were directing simultaneously, and you get a playback monitor, and you go scene for scene, and then you watch it, and you reset it. I felt a lot more involved in directing this time then I did last time because I had the playback monitor and I was very engaged with getting it right. So it is a little taxing because I’m in every scene, but it’s very exciting as well to be able to watch the process and make decisions on the set. But most of the excitement happens in editing, really putting this stuff together. Getting coverage is really what you’re concerned with when shooting it, but the edit is really where things get interesting.

You mentioned guests. When you ask guests to come on your podcast, has there been anyone who’s been wary about the fact that it takes place in your garage? Has anyone said no?

Maron: Well, I don’t know. Once you’re at my house they know what’s going on. People have turned down the podcast for various reasons. I don’t know that any of them are because it’s in my garage, but no one has gotten in my house and said, this is bullshit and left. I think towards the beginning they were surprised of where it was and they weren’t sure what they were getting into and that still happens occasionally, but no one has ever bailed because it was in my garage.

What about filming the podcast scene for the show?

Maron: The podcast on the show, we built a set that looks like my garage. and it does sort of play somewhat like the real thing. you know people come to my house and we go out back and we sit down and we do the conversation, but it’s different. That’s a set and my house is my house. So it’s different. The TV is a representation of the podcast. It’s fictional.

Were there any guests that you were hoping to get on season 3 that for whatever reason didn’t happen?

Maron: Look, we reach out to a lot of people and there’s people that I wanted on the show that for one reason or another couldn’t get on the show and usually the reason is scheduling, you know? We shoot it at a certain taste, at a certain budget, and we’re really talking about, you know, we need people in a one- or two-day window, maybe a three-day window and it’s very specific. And if they’re not available for that it doesn’t happen. But there’s always people I want to get on that didn’t get on, but it’s more of a scheduling issue.

For season 3, if you could pick one or two things, what are you most excited for viewers to see?

Maron: I just think the stories are great and I think the comedy is solid. I think it’s the best season yet. I’m proud of it and what I want them to get out of it is I want them to enjoy it and think it’s a great show. So hopefully that’ll happen.

You’ve talked in the past about this new age of comedy we’re in and the things that comedians have to do to adapt in order to make a livelihood for themselves in this industry. How have you seen yourself adapting to this new age of technology and podcasts and all these different formats?

Maron: I came to my podcast years ago and it was really out of desperation, and we committed to it and over time it worked out. I’m doing the best comedy I’ve ever done in my life right now in terms of keeping people aware of where I’m doing it, when I’m doing it, and keeping tabs with fans, primarily Twitter, and doing two podcasts a week. I just think the relationship you can have with people that are interested in what you do is a lot more immediate and possible now. And it’s also necessary, you know, in order to promote yourself.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

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

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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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).

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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.

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