Friday, 25 March 2011

I pod, you pod, they podcast

I’m probably well behind the loop on this but I’ve recently become a big fan of the podcast What The Fuck. I load it on to my phone and listen to it while walking the dog etc. If you see me laughing to myself with those black wires hanging from my ears, that’s why.

It’s done by an American comic who I’d never heard of before, Marc Maron. He’s been around for years and is now in his mid-forties. He’s had the divorces, the drug habit, the alcoholism and all that classic comic stuff. He’s angry and twisted and bitter and worried and self-hating and self-doubting. Imagine Woody Allen without pretension and without being a pain in the arse.

The show is just him and another comic, mostly. They talk for an hour or so, sometimes even two hours. I find it fascinating for two reasons.

One, the content and the quality of the conversation. He and the comics — most of whom he knows, if only a little — talk openly and in great detail about their lives. (The language and subject matter is not for the knock-kneed but then you could guess that from the podcast title.) If you ever thought it was a cliche that comedy comes out of pain — painful childhood, in particular — this is proof that cliches are cliches because they’re true.

Two, the relentless detail of the conversation. Not about that emotional stuff. Interesting as that is, it’s not exactly unique. What is special about WTF is its focus on comedy. It delineates and dissects the world of American comedy — stand-up, radio, sitcoms, sketch shows — with fabulous detail. It’s always fascinating to hear the real deal details of a profession. And this is presented by compulsive talkers and explainers and joke-makers. Smart ones, too, all of them. I must have listened to twenty or so shows now. Only another 50 or so to go. Sorry, that’s all, folks, go to go pod.

PS I also had a look at and listen to some of the stand-up performances of Maron and his guests. I was less impressed. Stick with the podcast.

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