Comedian Marc Maron began the WTF with Marc Maron podcast on September 1, 2009. A fixture in the '90s alternative comedy scene, the shift from stand-up to interviewer was not necessarily the most predictable path. However, it's what has made audiences so dedicated to his every-man way of digging deep into the lives of comedians, actors, musicians, writers, and more. Clocking in at an average of an hour and a half each, Maron starts from the top and works his way down his subject's careers. Rarely is there a structure, and the episodes never dwell on ticking off the boxes of a "normal" interview. For starters, they're almost all recorded in Maron's garage studio in Highland Park, California. They exist more as conversations, ideally not muddled by any preoccupation with promotion.
Nearly seven years and 700-plus episodes later, the biweekly show has amassed a huge audience, with 500,000 to 1 million downloads an episode. There have been some landmark moments, including a disgraced Carlos Mencia admitting to joke plagiarism, Gallagher walking out mid-interview, and burying the hatchet with Louie C.K. He even has a sit-down with the man behind Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, a fixture of obsession for this former SNL hopeful.
Will Ferrell (#450)
Maron, like most of us, expected Will Ferrell to walk in and start bouncing off the walls like some of his famous characters. Although he was running the circuit for Anchorman 2, he was hardly Ron Burgundy in real life. More introspective than erratic, the interview has a way of centering fans on the fact that Ferrell is a real person and not a cartoon.
Robin Williams (#67)
Another testament to Maron's specific brand of real talk is the way in which he got Robin Williams to open up in this April 2010 interview. The actor was candid about his struggles with depression, addiction, and his heart attack the previous year. In an intro given when he re-posted the episode following Williams' suicide in 2014, Maron said, “That conversation is what defined this show from that point on, and what defined my life in a lot of ways.”
Dave Grohl (#353)
As a guitarist and self-proclaimed audiophile, Maron's affinity for interviewing musicians can be measured in his level of geek-out with the interviewees. When he spoke with Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl, it was turned up to 11. We could listen to the two of them bounce through a series of "Dude!" "Dude." "I know, dude." "Seriously, dude," on repeat, all day long.
President Barack Obama (#613)
If there was ever any doubt of the reach that WTF has, it was quickly squashed by the announcement that President Barack Obama would be recording an episode. He got the casual sit-down treatment like anyone else, but the recent shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, opened up a frank discussion on race and gun control in America. While some of the more high-profile guests get a home visit from Maron, Obama insisted on coming to the garage. The insanity of was this was put into perspective when Maron shared that he had to ask his neighbor if the Secret Service could station a sniper on his roof while the President was there.
Laura Jane Grace (#617)
The Rolling Stone article, in which the Against Me! singer/guitarist came out as transgender in May 2013, gave a strikingly poignant view into the world of a person in the midst of transition. Two years later, she caught up with Maron to discuss even more in-depth the road she had traveled to get to that moment, as well as some of the fallout, including a messy divorce, suicide attempt, and upheaval of her band. It's inspiring, heartbreaking, and, for those who haven't gone through something like it, incredibly informative.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Weird Al" Yankovic (#257)
As a comedian, it might seem like Weird Al would resonate easily with Maron. However, he admitted at the top of the episode that since he was little, he "did not enjoy silliness ever." That's not to say that he held any sort of ill will while talking to the parody musician. On the contrary, it may have leveled out the atmosphere him to appreciate a man with several decades of work, and for the two to get into some heavier stuff, including the sudden death of Yankovic's parents.
Martin Starr (#543)
Martin Starr might not be the biggest celebrity to join Maron in the garage, but he had one of the most surprising interviews. He is best known for playing lovable nerd Bill on the short-lived comedy Freaks and Geeks as well as engineer Gilfoyle on HBO's Silicon Valley. He discussed his start, the subsequent typecasting, and near end of his career. Most fascinatingly though, he revealed that he's a born and raised Buddhist. He dives deep into his use of the principles of meditation, chanting, and karmic understanding.