Marc Maron is definitely different. I have been listening to Not Sold Out, his stand-up comedy CD on the Stand Up! Records label on and off for the last three or four weeks, alternating sometimes with his other release, Tickets Still Available. I've yet to make up my mind about it. Marc Maron is a dark, very smart, edgy comic that will make you laugh but make you squirm a bit at the same time. Whatever it is, this CD is certainly not for those looking for feel good comedy to chase away the blues, relax on a long drive, or simply get a good dose of humor as best medicine.
Our interview with Marc Maron July 2009
Maron opens with a bit on suicide. "I have been thinking a lot about suicide lately. Not because I want to kill myself, I just find it relaxing. ... There's something gratifying knowing you have that kind of control over your life." Not that Not Sold Out, a revealingly self-deprecating title if there ever was one (or two with Not Sold Out), is all nihilistic but there is that undertone throughout. He is a Jewish angst comic without the Jewish.
The opening track closes with a nasty bit about John Walker Lindh "he just took the semester abroad to a whole new level" and the Bishop kid in Florida who mosquitoed his plane into a building. Maron fairly obviously deals with his demons on stage and thus allows others to deal with theirs. His theory on our carrying a bag of fuck on our backs day in day out that eventually wears us down is both funny and something that makes you think a bit too hard for a comedy bit.
This stand-up comedian also has a very good routine on being addicted to porn and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the guy at the video store. This segues nicely into an original bit on the Disneyfication of Times Square and the blandification of American culture. Marc Maron even has nothing nice to say about the support New York City received after 9/11 using a rather nasty but truthful simile to make his point.
Maron is also a conspiracy theorist on Not Sold Out, a theory that involves not only God but in smaller things like the old guys at the post office and the CIA. His routine on the CIA assigning agents to keep an eye on him is a hilarious take on the topic that is also the comic at his most self-deprecating. Basically he is crazy enough the government would bother with him but sane enough to know chances are there is unfortunately no file Marc Maron, comedian provocateur.
There are quite a few excellent set-up here such as, "Let's talk about the President for a while because I do not want to seem unpatriotic." that immediately shows the comic's color and style. The president in this case are both Clinton and Bush and though Maron goes for their standard comedy weak spots (Clinton sex fiend, Bush idiot) he manages to make these bits different and original. This track seques very smoothly to what's wrong with Florida and how to get rid of Al Qaeda.
The Afghanistan bit slowly evolves in how women are the ultimate weapon against terrorism. You have to hear it to not only believe it but realize how much sense it makes.
Maron is certainly a nihilist comic, a rare breed, especially since in his case it sounds sincere and not just fodder for a stage persona or material. If a sign of a good comic is you wish he had done more with a particular routine, his take on the infantilization of the adult mind is that good sign.
If a stand-up comedy CD can make you feel depressed after listening to it while still having the impression you listened to some very good, original comedy, Marc Maron Not Sold Out is it. There are organizations out there that look for comedy CDs and movies to donate to hospitals to help patients. Well, this particular one may not be appropriate.
So after three weeks of listening to this CD on and off I am still not sure I really like it but I also know I will be listening to it from time to time, especially when the weather and life is good, just as a reality check.
Other Marc Maron Reviews
Tickets Still Available: there is such a thing as nihilist stand-up comedy and this guy is its poster boy.
Final Engagement: Are you afraid of the dark? This comic certainly is not.
This Has To Be Funny: Excellent comedy CD and Maron s first on Comedy Central Records
This Has To Be Funny - Joe Schneider Review: Second and less positive review for Maron's first Comedy Central Records release.
Thinky Pain: Maron is a master storyteller and only seems to get better as time goes by. Highly recommended.