Marc Maron: Too Real (Netflix)

He’s still the guy who prefers to sit onstage on the stool in a crouch, only with a more regular smile across his face. The change is most noticeable from one particular camera angle positioned about the third row. It’s also quite visible as Maron enjoys more physical act-outs of his material onstage. At 53, Maron is happier, nimbler, and stronger as a comedian. Not all comedians get better with age and experience. Some lose the hunger. Some lose touch with the audience. Some get sidetracked by other pursuits, personally or professionally. That’s not the case with Maron, who has delivered his best hour of stand-up to date.

Even when Maron takes the stage to talk about our collective frustration about someone who acts like an abusive stepfather (without having to mention who’s he’s talking about by name). “I could say things to you that would never make sense previous…but now you’re like, right.” Eventually he capitulates and says the Trump word, wondering who his supporters may be months after the election, and how Americans can bridge the divide between themselves. Loving Tom Petty, apparently, is not enough of a common denominator to unite Americans any more. Although he’s more popular than ever now. Maron; not Petty. If Trump voters can apologize, even if it’s in the minute before the world ends, that may be enough for him.

“I’m terrified to refresh the news browser on my phone,” he laments each morning, fearful that the new President may have unleashed a catastrophe on the world during the night. He makes an amusing aside about white nationalists taking a break from hating in their basements to actually vote for the first time. But he soon ditches politics to ponder the mundanities of everyday life, finding inspiration in things like bemoaning his mother’s inappropriate emoji usage. He punctuates his monologues with self-effacing quips and often laughs alongside his audience, his willingness to revel in his own ridiculousness making his jokes all the more charming. Take, for example, Maron’s winding story of a man who buys a dumb hat and constantly reevaluates its place in his life. He tells the joke twice, the second time reworking the story into the plot of a children’s book about a “stupid, silly, sad man” who wrongfully assumes that buying a hat will give him a sense of fulfillment.

It’s indulgent but comically mesmerizing. Maron jokingly calls himself an “alpha pussy” who’s not about to make fun of alpha males or Trump voters to their face. At his age, though, he also uses self-deprecation about his own mortality as an excuse to not learn new things or find new bands, movies or friends to become fans of. He even can include himself in that calculus, asking at one point: “How do you have fun? How do you guys do it? Like, I don’t think I would have come to this show.” As he gets older, Maron doesn’t want to turn into his father. However, he does acknowledge not only his genetic links, but also his frustrations and exhaustion with the surplus of content and options available to us now online and in real life. And he has no shame about beating the crowd out of a Rolling Stones concert. In fact, he’s so convincing about it that you feel bad for the suckers who stayed til the end.


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