Monday, May 25, 2015

Reviews Maron

Having seen Maron once all the way through (so far, as I may well watch it again), I can say exactly this much:

I am not ready to see Marc Maron as a sexual being. I'm nut sure anyone is.

Having said that, I would definitely recommend this series for first-time viewers, at least. I usually try to watch at least some episodes a couple times through - once when I just suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride then a second time to pinpoint the processes used (and how they are employed) to achieve the filmmakers' intent - but since I've been a fan of Marc Maron's stand-up since I was a kid (highschool, at least) and listened to his podcast regularly for a couple years a while back, I decided to write down some thoughts on his show moreso than do a solid review.

Again, I'm just not prepared for the copious sex scenes, nor the sexualization of Marc Maron.

I binge-watched it over the course of about two days, which really does say a lot: Had I not been as surprisingly impressed as I was, I would still be making my way through it (though that also means I missed some of the finer points along the way). But Maron is nothing more than a semi-autobiographical, and largely fictionalized, adaptation of his podcast, WTF? As a fan of that show, I recognized many of the stories and characters from it, so I feel I have some small insight to share.

When it comes to basic filmmaking, Maron's at least as good as anything else on TV - not to mention the fact that it's actually funny.
The show is about a "washed-up" comedian making his own way in New Media through a podcast and many of the stories are anecdotes from that podcast. It's a perfect fit. But, like too many sit-coms these days, it has a tendency to eschew fun-loving romps for bitterwseet slice-of-life tales. The difference between Maron and similar shows is that that cynical, self-hating navel-gazing is solid Marc Maron; that's more or less been his schtick since he came on the scene and it suits him well.


Louis CK and Marc Maron were roommates for a long time before they had a massive falling-out which resulted in neither speaking to the other for years. The details of this sordid affair remain unknown to me but Maron extended an olive branch by inviting CK onto his show a few years back, during which the two seemed to at least take awkward steps toward patching-up their relationship. A while later, Maron confided in his audience that he hadn't heard from CK since that interview. Then he popped-up on Louie in the fourth season to tell him Maron had been renewed - just to rub it in. It was a wonderful bit if you know the backstory; for everyone else, I'm not sure how it played.

And, speaking of CK and Maron, of the two, Maron has the better show - well, sit-com, at least (as everyone's so gung-ho about categorizing and sub-categorizing Louie that I'll settle on it being a Comedy). Both are fully character-driven and at least appear to be rather tightly written (I have no idea how much is improvised but it's incredibly common on sit-coms). Both play versions of themselves in their shows and both of their characters share their IRL professions.

That's where the similarities end though, as Maron - from a stand-up comic who is definitely of the "I hate punchlines" mentality - includes setups, punchlines, gags, the whole nine, whereas Louie leans on that bumbling, "Lovable Loser" crutch until it's bent. Maron tackles issues that are just as large as those Louie deals with but in a comedic manner. It also isn't afraid to tackle the issue of Political Correctness and its effect on comedy - something I know for a fact that Marc Maron is not 100% confident about when it comes to working blue, not to mention his confessed abhorrence for punchlines and gags - while Louie chose to tow that party line from Jumpstreet.

Louis CK recently did a monologue during his latest SNL hosting stint which garnered some bad press. I saw it and it was really funny - I actually laughed out loud at it - but I have a feeling that, were he to bring that level of stand-up comedy to his own show, the rest of it would pale in comparison. Marc Maron soliloquizes as a podcaster but his monologues are plot devices, not just cutaways - not to mention that they are rarely funny; nearly always self-absorbed, they're usually a piercing, insightful summary of the plot.

Despite all the comparisons, Maron and Louie are two entirely different shows regarding two very similar, very self-involved, narcissists. But while Louie is an acquired taste, Maron is a straight-up comedy - a bit edgy at times, a bit pretentious, with few compunctions about going completely over-the-top if it elicits a good-natured laugh. I always connect the two comedians in my mind because I know a (very) little bit about their pasts but despite that, there are a lot of similarities in their TV shows.

Between the two though, if you're looking for a good-time sit-com with short doses of drama - believable drama, at that, and not just writerly devices - Maron is the better choice.

With a third season coming soon to IFC, you can find the first two seasons of Maron on Netflix.

© The Weirding, 2015

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