Comedy · Creativity · Mental Health · Self

How WTF? with Marc Maron Has Changed My Life

It all started with a recommendation by a friend to check out Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that featured an author named Tracey MacMillan. Now, I am a big reader, so this made sense.  It made sense for better understanding where I was at in my life. The purpose  of downloading Marc Maron’s podcast was to hear this woman tell her story about how her father went to prison and she grew up a foster kid, and with her father’s girlfriend, into a woman that wouldthen later went on to ate men very much like her father.  Finally, she comes to the realization that the first man she truly loved was her son. It was him that taught the author how to love.

Now, I kind of new what a podcast was because were beginning to offer various forms of online training at work, and one of the options discussed was audio podcasting. Most of those that I saw on Itunes were like radio shows you could download on-demand. This was very intriguing for someone who is constantly in her car and sometimes is not always pleased with what the listening options are on the various channels.

I must confess I only knew Marc Maron in passing from Dr. Katz. My brother and I would watch Comedy Central quite a bit after school, everything to Who’s Line is it Anyway, to Kids in the Hall to Dr. Katz. It was the late-early days of the network and they were open to playing some great comedic material.

Marc Maron is back in my life. He has a funny, acerbic, aggressive wit. He is self-deprecating. He worries about his weight. He is a recovering addict. He is anxious and neurotic. He is me with a penis. The podcast with Tracy MacMillan starts with Marc talking about his relationship with his father, and continues with a phone call with his father. They have a strained relationship, too, not unlike the one his guest, Tracy, has with her father.  He deftly transitions from his father to his guest with skills he developed while working on the now defunct Air America, a liberal radio network. The answer back to the conservative radio talk show hosts that dominate the airwaves.

She talks about her father, her son, and coming full circle. He asks about her self image and reads the section of her book about hating Gwyneth Paltrow.  She hates her, not necessarily because she is so pretty, but because her father cared enough to bring her to see Paris.  Her father felt every woman (and I am poorly paraphrasing here) should experience Paris for the first time with a man that truly loves them, their father.  It infuriated McMillan. At the end of the episode, Maron calls his father back again to make peace, or at least propose a truce. The episode had me hooked. The way it was structured with two different narrative plot lines. The in-depth, caring interview, mixed with funny moments and moments that made you tear up. I wanted more of Maron.

Since then, Marc and I have driven to work nearly every day together. I have also found some other great podcasters, too. Mostly those by comedians because they are complex people, with interesting backgrounds, and complicated ways. In other words, I can relate to them, immensely. They are living out loud and authentically. Many more podcasts by Maron would be listened to, saved and listened to again. Especially one by Henry Rollins, Kelly Carlin, Sara Benincasa, and the one that began it all Tracy MacMillan.

Surprisingly, over time, I enjoyed the ones with people that did not know any thing about the most. Specifically, the one with Mary Mack, Sara Benincasa, more recently Nesteroff . Those interviews open up new worlds to me that I would otherwise not get to know. They have opened up opportunities for to grow as a person, a professional, and as a writer. I reached out to Sara Benincasa thinking that she would blow me off because she had more important things to do, but no, she wrote me one of the longest emails I have ever received. She gave great insight about whether I was on the right track regarding my life path and where writing fit into it.  She validated the decisions I made years ago to provide myself with a stable life, with the American dream. Benincasa also validated my dream to become a writer. It was possible. It could be done, while I worked as a librarian. Relief came, and all the thanks was to, Mr. Maron for exposing me to this wonderful woman with a passionate heart, soul, and sense of humor. Yet another person like myself.

I found so much of myself in Henry Rollins, too. He is a rogue archivist of sorts, preserving audio recordings. I found him funny, knowledgable, kind hearted. A man that lives life fully. Marc is able to draw out of people their true and authentic selves. He is a great interviewer, yes, but it is not just that skill. It is also unapologetically authentic about what he does, how he lives, what he thinks, whether it comes to eating too, concern over his new messy girlfriend moving in with him and calling him out on his temper (she asks him to use his “words” advice she gives daily to the autistic population she works with), and his obsession to make good with those he has wronged in the past. Constantly and consistently asking of his guests with which he has had issues, “are we good.”  He also shows a kind side, one that loves animals, specifically cats. Boomer, Lafonda, and the few other strays that he has taken into the cat ranch are all welcome and well taken care of by him, King of the beasts.

I hope one day that I can come to realize the peace that he feels, knows and conveys over the podcasts. He admits it took him 40 plus years to get there. He is glad that he has arrived at this place in this lifetime. I want that peace more than ever. He has changed my life through his guests, too. I have learned immeasurable lessons from them all. I have laughed. I have cried. I have become a better person. Thank you, Marc Maron for asking that forever eternal question, “What the Fuck?”

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