For the last three or four years I've had a running bit with my oldest sister, Martha, where every 3 months or so she would ask me "you listening to WTF with Marc Maron yet?" I would say something like "Nah, but I'll check it out" or "I don't really do podcasts" or "Sounds lame" and then I would completely ignore her recommendation.
For those non-podcast n00bs (like I used to be) WTF is a podcast hosted by stand-up Marc Maron where he interviews comedians, writers, and musicians in his garage in California and they talk about drug abuse, death, relationships and their careers. Marc also spends about 20 minutes at the beginning of each episode getting real with his listeners, his break-ups, his fights with his dad, his anger issues, even the saga of a transient deaf black cat. Honestly, I probably know more about his personal life than the personal life of the sister who recommended it to me. So basically it's a dream for the lonely and sad comedy nerd! You should check it out (if you're not already) here: www.wtfpod.com
This bit with my sister went on for so long that I seriously started actively avoiding Marc Maron just to piss her off. Then I graduated university and all of a sudden I didn't have a team of highly educated 40-year-old dudes telling me what to read and how the world works. Trust me, It was awesome for like three months! I was like middle finger to the world, I'll figure my own shit out, I'm free from the man, I'm gonna just hang out all day, every day! Then I got real sad, real quick. It became cripplingly obvious that I was a tiny selfish baby who had a vast knowledge of drama studies and pretty much no way to navigate the rest of the world. So, I started listening to WTF, cause I needed something to fill time that didn't make me feel like I was totally wasting time. Now, a year and a bit since graduation I've hardly missed an episode. Marc Maron pretty much got me through my first year of adulthood. Here's how!
1. Navigating Jealousy and Bitterness: People who don't like Marc Maron always come back to the fact that he's a sad, angry, bitter little man. Guess what? We all are. Except maybe like the Dalai Lama and Jerry Seinfeld. The very thing that makes you an artist is that you put your soul up for collateral in order to do what you love. You lay out all your emotions, and your relationships, and your feelings, and your looks, and your weight and then someone tells you that all that good stuff isn't as good as someone else's. Well that fuckin' sucks! My first couple months out of theatre school I didn't do a single creative thing and of course it seemed like every friggin' person around me was. I got jealous. I got bitter. I got ugly. Then I listened to Marc and I learned that all those feelings don't leave you feeling better about yourself. They leave you angry with yourself. I've listened to countless WTF episodes where Marc freely admits to having major beef with someone and he has to work really hard to put it behind him and move in a positive direction with that person. I didn't want to start shutting people out because of their success and missing out on that friendship. So, I grew a pair and got way happier for it.
2. If you want to be interesting, be interested: Don't worry y'all, I know that I can be a very selfish attention seeking whore. I dominate conversations, my voice carries for like six city blocks, if I'm not the centre of a room's attention I get real cranky. But that can only take you so far both socially and professionally. Listening to Marc be genuinely invested and curious about other peoples lives taught me a really valuable lesson. If you want people to listen to you you gotta be listening to them. I know, I know! How did I make it to 22 without learning this pretty standard social rule? Truth is I've always known it! But listening to someone who suffers from many of the same social and psychological afflictions as I do actually doing it and it working pretty much blew my mind. I'm still trying to get a serious handle on this one but like eh? I'm trying here folks!
3. Govern Yourself Ladykins! : A couple months ago Marc did an episode with RuPaul. It was stunning. A disgruntled Jew and the world's most famous drag queen together in a garage. Stop it! In that interview RuPaul talked about driving to Marc's house that morning and there was an accident in the other lane of traffic however the lane he was in was almost stopped because people were trying to get a glimpse of the drama of the accident. In explaining this story RuPaul shouted "Govern Yourself, Ladykins!" and that phrase jumps in to my head at least once or twice a day. Now, before I go to talk shit about someone, or something, or complain about my bullshit, or involve myself in something I have no business being involved in I think "Hey asshole, govern yourself!" It's weird realizing that I'm the only person who is responsible for myself and what happens in my life. I REALLY like blaming external factors for why I didn't get a job, or that dude doesn't dig me, or why they are successful and I'm not. Once I started governing myself, or being the Prime Minister of Hanada as I like to call it, I was forced to take responsibility for my sack of shit and it sucks but I'm better for it.
4. You can't just smoke weed and masturbate: Josh Radnor (The How I Met Your Mother dude) was on WTF in the winter and he talked about how when nothing was happening for him as an actor he started writing. Marc explained this as what happens when you realize you can't just smoke weed and masturbate for the rest of your life. That's maybe cruder terms than what I was actually doing (which was mostly Netflix and beer) but hearing someone say it woke me up. After spending most of my first out of school fall getting drunk on Wednesday days and dicking around I was just kinda sad. So I started a blog! And people read it! And people liked it! Writing has been my saving grace the last couple months. I'm not always the most open and revealing person about where my head and emotions are at but writing has given me a platform to sort my stuff out. Plus sometimes people think I'm funny which is really all I ever want. That's how WTF got started, Marc was sad and didn't have much going on so he set up a microphone in his garage and now a gajillion people listen to him. Marc gave me a tangible way to get my ass in gear and I'm forever grateful.
5. "Nobody says anything positive about the construction process": If you are a WTF-er you get an email every Monday where Marc tells you where he's performing, who's on the podcast that week, and he checks in with where his heads at and what's going on in his life. Before I started reading those emails I pretty much never turned a critical eye on myself. I was just like "la la la this is my life doodly bop!" but reading someone else make really personal discoveries about themselves, moving past old mistakes, being self-aware of their shortcomings, all that gross stuff that most people in your life don't want to hear about was really fascinating to me. So I started doing it. If you've read my blogs you'll know I reveal some shit and I can do that because now I really take time to go down to the dark places, to get past my own bull shit, and to own who I am. Sometimes it sucks! Sometimes I hate what I find! But almost always I'm able to feel better about who I am as a person after some serious self-reflection. One time in one of his emails Marc said "nobody says anything positive about the construction process" and it really stuck with me. This whole adulthood bullshit that no one ever figures out? Yeah it's a construction process! It doesn't always feel like a warm hug from your mommy! Sometimes it feels like your car getting towed, or quitting a job, or that girl being mean to you! The construction process ain't pretty but each time you get a little closer to your end result it feels damn good!
So thanks Marc Maron! For being my weird podcast dad for the last year, for sharing your gross bullshit, for being genuinely curious about the world around you, for being interested and interesting, and giving this little comedy nerd a way to waste time without feeling like I'm wasting time.
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