Marc Maron on patent trolls and spiritual experiences in the desert

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Robyn Von Swank/ IFC
Most comedy nerds are already familiar with Marc Maron's biography. He rose to prominence in the alt-comedy scene of the '90s before floundering through a few TV and radio gigs that never felt like a perfect fit. Despite racking up over forty appearances on the various incarnations of Conan and never leaving the airwaves for long, Maron's career was at a low point when he started the WTF podcast in his garage. In addition to in-depth interviews with comedians, musicians and the occasional movie star, WTF gives plenty of mic time to Maron's chronic over-sharing as well. Though off-putting at first to some listeners, his rambling engenders a more personal connection with the legion of listeners who have flocked to his shows. Currently starring in the final few episodes of the second season his IFC sitcomMaron, he'll be headlining this weekend at the downtown Comedy Works . In advance of that run, we caught up with Maron to discuss patent trolls, Denver's drunk crowds and his attempts at a spiritual experience in the desert.

See also: Christopher Titus on happiness, joking about guns, and Pawnography

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Marc Maron of WTF, in Denver this weekend.
Westword: I read on the WTF dispatch that you recently took some time off the grid in Joshua Tree. How was your trip? Any visions or spiritual revelations?

Marc Maron: Well, I've been out there before and it's pretty amazing. It's one of those places that you hear is amazing and then it absolutely lives up to that reputation. There are certain places that do that. I don't think anybody goes to see the Grand Canyon and goes, "Eh, it's okay. It's just a hole." I don't do drugs anymore and I don't drink, so I really have to have a fairly earnest spiritual experience. I may have forced it a bit, but it's not hard to have one surrounded by these dinosaur plants in the middle of the desert. I was by myself, and I don't usually travel by myself except for work. But you know, spiritual journeys when you have a schedule, you have time for one hike -- and it was sort of hijacked by my fear of not bringing enough water and dying on top of a mountain. So I had to come to terms with the possibility that I might get bitten by snakes, and I don't even know if there are snakes up there. Or that my eyes could get eaten by hawks and crows, and that no one would find me for days. None of those things ended up happening, but they were a sort of obstacle to my enlightenment.

If you're at peace with being bird-food, that's pretty enlightened.

That's as good of an enlightenment as you can get. Exactly. I guess I did it. I did it. It didn't last long, but my calm, enlightened self -- that lasted until I got back into the car to leave Joshua Tree.

Does it still take a few sets to shake off the cobwebs if you've taken a long time off?

You're talking like it was this long trip! It was a good couple of hours. I don't ever take that long off. Sometimes it'll be a while since I've done a long set, but I don't really let cobwebs form. I just try to be as alive as possible and move through things as they're happening. I don't wander the world with a perfectly orchestrated act that I could get tired of, or could get rusty. I show up for each performance fresh, you know what I mean? I'm always fueled by a certain amount of excitement and panic. Not unhealthy panic. I'm not worried about being rusty; I do worry a little about Denver in general. It's pretty drunky weekend nights. I think it has something to do with the altitude, too. Hopefully, mostly my people will come.

There's a lot of studied comedy nerds here.

I always have a great time in Denver. I've got a couple old friends there. There's a couple restaurants around there that I like. I'm looking forward to it: four shows at one of the best clubs in the country.

Most comics seem to agree. So, I watched your special Thinky Pain and I noticed that you spent a good portion of the show craned up in a fetal-like position on a stool? When did you start performing that way?

I don't know, man, it was half-conscious and half just where I ended up finding myself. I've been doing comedy a long time, and you see these guys pacing around, and I just found myself sitting down. It used to be in the old days when I was sitting down it meant that I was not doing well, that I was overcompensating. If that show wasn't going the way I wanted it to go, I would sit down and act like that didn't bother me at all.

I don't know, I felt like a special -- I watched Bill Cosby Himself recently and it sort of dawned on me that we decide what we want to do, we decide what's funny and we decide how we want to hold ourselves. So I started sitting down and felt that out, and then the positioning sort of evolved. It seems to be what I do now, and I like it. It enables a focus. There's something intimate about it immediately. I actually feel like I have more freedom of movement, there's something more expressive and condense about it. It took me 25 years to end up on the stool. I've always been sort of a stool guy, but whatever's going on on top of that stool is relatively new.

Keep reading for more from Marc Maron.


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Comedy Works

1226 15th St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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