I have known, on and off (though mostly off), the brilliant comedian Marc Maron since 1999. Prior to our actual meeting I had been aware of him because I’d enjoyed him as host of Comedy Central’s (or was it still the Comedy Channel at that point?) Short Attention Span Theater. He had a febrile intelligence that popped off the screen. I enjoyed his stand-up specials and whenever I’d see him turn up as a guest on talk shows.
I then saw him in Jonah Kaplan’s very funny short film Stalker Guilt Syndrome. I’d met Jonah through our mutual friend Dean Haspiel and told him how much I enjoyed the short, particularly Maron’s performance. Shortly after that I was having dinner at Olive Tree (not fucking Olive Garden, thank you very much), my favorite eatery downtown. Downstairs at Olive Tree, is the Comedy Cellar, an intimate spot to see stand-up. I spotted Maron seated at the table in the back where the comics who perform get their meals, so I introduced myself, telling him I’d just seen the short. Maron kind of frowned and said something like, “Oh yeah? Whudja think of it?” I told him I’d enjoyed it very much. I even got a copy from Jonah to add to my video library.
I guess Marc felt comfortable that I wasn’t going to stalk him (with or without guilt) because we exchanged info and started getting together from time to time. When I mentioned my burgeoning friendship with Marc to Jonah he said, “Yeah, good luck with that.” Hmmm.
In Marc’s company I got to know some of the ins and outs of the business of stand-up. I’d always been a fan of good stand-up but was now getting an inside look at how tough a career it was. I respected him and the craft even more. Marc was workshopping a one-man show back then (The Jerusalem Syndrome, which also became a great book). Michele and I attended several versions of it at The Westbeth Theater downtown. I think I was always the loudest laugher and the darker the material the heartier I laughed. I think Marc’s always had a soft spot for the guy (I’m guessing it’s almost always a guy) in the audience who is the only one to laugh at one of his uncomfortably truthful observations. Michele would look back and forth between me laughing and Marc performing and she’d afterwards tell me she thought Marc and I might be too alike in worldview. I dunno.
Then 9/11 came along, and swept up in the maelstrom of post-event trauma, our burgeoning friendship took a hiatus. Then a couple of years ago—maybe 2008—I’m at the urinal in the men’s room of the Comedy Cellar. Mid-leak a gravelly voice behind me says, “Is that Bob Fingerman?” I look over my shoulder and it’s Marc. We haven’t seen each other since maybe June or July 2001. I shake off and as I’m washing up—Marc having taken my place at the urinal—we catch up briefly:
Bob: How’ve you been?
Marc: Bad. Bad divorce. You down here or up there?
Bob: I’m up there. Dinner with a friend.
Marc: When I finish my set I’ll stop by.
And he did and we got back on track. None of this comes up in the conversation Marc and I had on the podcast. I don’t want to say any more. This is preamble. Backstory. Since he started the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Marc has hosted some of the greatest talents in contemporary comedy (not to mention authors, his parents and other interesting characters) and engaged them in something rarely heard these days: bona fide conversation. I was thrilled and honored to be a guest at the Cat Ranch and appear on my favorite podcast. Marc has a genius for keeping it real and real funny. DOWNLOAD AND ENJOY!!!
In the Cat Ranch
It had been raining but when the show was over the sun came out. Hallelujah!