Human beings are by nature social creatures, but is that because we want to listen to other people talk, or because we want others to listen to us? I don't know about you, but I cannot wait until it is my turn again, and most of the time you are speaking I am fantasizing about all the brilliant stuff I am going to say to you. Me talking is by far my most favorite part of our conversation.
Considering my tendency to adore the noises that spew from my mouth, I did not anticipate being a fan of podcasts. But once turned on to Marc Maron's WTF I have become a junkie who would perform a whole series of questionable acts to get my fix. My relationship with Marc, and yes, we are on a first name basis considering the depth of my obsession, began after I spawned a being. Any parent knows the patience required in getting these creatures to sleep, and at times I would get so bored I forced myself to contemplate the science behind the Dewey Decimal system. It was through this necessity of sitting in a rocking chair for an absurdly long time that I started to entertain myself with WTF, and baby's bedtime was transformed into my favorite time of day.
What makes WTF so appealing is Marc's willingness to uncover his true self unashamedly, which helps him to achieve a level of intimacy that is unparalleled and utterly intoxicating. His ability to openly deconstruct himself for all his flaws draws you into a deep feeling of empathy and knowing. There is no construct or brand he is pressured to protect, because his public identity is now contingent on his eagerness to reveal himself, making Marc one of the bravest people in Hollywood because he actually allows you to understand who he is.
Each episode begins with a monologue where Marc shares his thoughts, dreams, psychoses, ambitions, hopes, and fears -- which sets the stage for an hour-long discussion with someone in the field of comedy. Marc has been able to transcend the average interview situation because, for a devotee of the show, it really doesn't matter who he has on. Just because you have never heard of Steve Almond doesn't mean you aren't going to be utterly captivated by the conversation. Of course it is always exciting when he has a big star like Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Amy Poehler, or Ben Stiller on the show, but it is Marc's questioning style that creates an environment that is riveting regardless of star power.
Marc's voracious vulnerability is not only endearing, but also creates an atmosphere of genuine dialogue between him and his guests. Unlike late night talk show interviews that are mostly choreographed superficial banter where celebrities tell some prepared story they try to make sound spontaneous, WTF conversations are authentic. Marc rarely does any research on his guests save glancing at Wikipedia and spends the time trying to actually get to know them. Who their parents are, how they were brought up, what got them interested in comedy, and on many occasions analyzes the drama they once had in their own personal relationship. By approaching his guests in this manner he develops a psychological construct of who they are that is truly meaningful.
Marc's strategy exposes people in a way that makes you understand why most other platforms fall flat, and you find yourself acquiring a whole new perspective on a person you thought you had sized up. I have discovered that I don't like certain comedians I thought I did, and started adoring others I thought I didn't. After talking to Marc for an hour you can't hide the nuances of your personality because it will come through in the way you approach the experience.
Marc's podcast has created a standard of relating to people so that now in my own life I have come to expect a dynamic where we emotionally undress and skinny dip past the shores of our souls. Who needs small talk with acquaintances when you can listen to a deep discussion with Marc even if you don't get to dominate the conversation? I am hoping that my baby's first sentence will be "what the f*ck"
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