Interview: Marc Maron rejoins his old Boston crowd

Stand-up guy
By DAVID BRUSIE  |  January 24, 2012

Marc Maron's WTF podcast is essential listening for comedy fans. Equal parts neurosis and fascinating conversation, the podcast features Maron talking to comedians in his Los Angeles garage about what makes them tick. (Recent episodes have included stand-up Todd Glass publicly discussing his homosexuality for the first time and former Onion editor Todd Hanson talking candidly about his depression and suicide attempt.) Maron attended BU and worked in Boston for most of the '80s, opening for some of the scene's most prominent stand-ups. Six of those comics — Kenny Rogerson, Tony V, Barry Crimmins, Mike Donovan, Jimmy Tingle, and Frank Santorelli — will be guests at a live WTF taping at the Wilbur Theatre on Friday night following Maron's (separate-admittance) stand-up show.

YOU'VE MENTIONED ON YOUR SHOW THAT YOU HAD SOME CONFLICT WITH THE BOSTON PERSONALITY. I don't know if it was conflict. I grew up in New Mexico, and my family is from the East Coast. For the first couple of years there, the inconsistency of the Boston accent can be a little intimidating. But over time it becomes charming. It's hard not to feel like an outsider for a while, but I grew to really get a kick out of it, and get impressed by it somehow.

DID THAT OUTSIDER FEELING HAVE AN EFFECT ON YOUR COMEDY? There was a comedy scene when I was a kid and starting out that was really defined by people like Steve Sweeney and Don Gavin, Kenny Rogerson. George MacDonald was there, Mike McDonald, Mike Donovan. I started my career opening for these guys, and I was just an angry, neurotic little Jewish guy. So it definitely didn't jibe in my mind completely well with working-class New Englanders, but I fought it out and found a way. I never felt immediately accepted on stage, but that feeling has stayed with me probably to this day.

WHAT ABOUT THE BOSTON SCENE AT THAT TIME INFLUENCED YOUR WORK? I started my career hanging around Catch a Rising Star and Nick's Comedy Stop and basically every weekend driving out to one-nighters, opening for these guys that were established in the area. I was fortunate in that I was relatively bookable, and able to go out and do a lot of these one-nighters. So I started my career driving into a complete mystery. A lot of times you'd go do one-nighters and you had no idea what you were walking into, what the setting was going to be like, how many people were going to be there . . . Like Pancho Villa's in Leominster. There was this weird, tiered balcony, and this giant disco ball. That gig was around for years. The Taunton Regency was another big gig. So how does that define my stand-up? I can do this anywhere, anytime. Just give me directions.

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    Marc Maron's WTF podcast is essential listening for comedy fans.
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