Back in the days when I was able to start my day with a good healthy dose of comedic cynicism with "Morning Sedition", Marc Maron would open the show with "Good morning geniuses, philosopher kings, working class heroes, progressive utopians with no sense of humor..." If you're familiar with the Maron oeuvre, you know that humorlessness on the left is an integral part of his work when he ventures into the political realm (which he doesn't do much anymore, since as he said on Real Time with Bill Maher this weekend, political rage is just about being angry in your own head, something he's been workinig on with his WTF podcast, which is itself a kind of atonement for the way he treated people in comedy when he was a self-destructive asshole, instead of just the garden-variety asshole he is today.
But now Marc Maron finds himself with a notoriety he would have killed for a few years ago, because of an offhand remark he made during his appearance on Real Time -- one which for anyone who knows his work, is another example of the kind of raw, rip-your-head-open-and-dig-out-the-muck musings that are an integral part of his schtick.
I'll be the first to admit that Marc Maron isn't everyone's cup of tea. At one time I'd have said that you have to be a neurotic Jew with food issues and unresolved childhood self-loathing to really "get" what he does. But there are few stand-up comics who, after a radio show that lasted only a year and a half and ended over five years ago, has kept the show's fan base to the point of breaking down the wall between comic and audience. Whether it's his live stand-up shows or live WTF broadcasts, Seditionisti and WhatTheFuckniks shower him with gifts relevant to his chaotic life and cultural references -- vegan cakes, non-vegan cookies, full butterfat ice cream, and of course cat toys. There are always cat toys, because if you've followed Maron's career since three feral stray cats were dumped almost literally in his lap in Astoria, Queens in 2004, you know about Boomer the Dirt Cat (who the now-loathed ex-wife left behind and took the much nicer Moxie the Astoria Cat in their very bitter divorce), Monkey, and LaFonda, you know that he's a Cat Guy. And another thing the fans do is create the artwork that shows up now on WTF swag.
Marc Maron has this peculiar thing that he desperately wants to be liked, but he's suspicious of anyone who likes him. If you don't necessarily like him as a person (and he's far more accessible than most stand-ups are), you should at least appreciate his work. But the thing you have to realize about Marc Maron is that when he gets up on a stage, or puts on the headphones in his garage and starts a monologue, he's not doing it for you. He's doing it for himself, because without it he'll go slowly nuts just from living inside his own head. You either get that or you don't.
Unfortunately, appearing on a popular show like Real Time means that this weekend Maron was out of the comfort zone of people who still miss Lawton Smalls and the Presidential Palm Pilot and who remain hopeful that Current will somehow put WTF on television. And now he's Public Enemy #1 on the right for an offhand remark he made (2:33 into the video below) about hoping Marcus Bachmann (who's widely reported to be a closet case, which of course, as Stephen Colbert would say, makes it "fact-esque") takes out all his rage and anger about his closeted existence into the bedroom with his wife, GOP Republican presidential candidate Michele, and has "hate sex" with her.
Watch for yourself:
I'm waiting for the feminist blogosphere to weigh in with trigger warnings and all the rest of the fragile flower baggage that comes with framing your entire life and entire being around having been a victim of rape at one time. But so far it's mostly on the right that the outrage is taking place, which is hilarious because for a year and a half, Marc Maron was on terrestrial radio for fifteen hours a week during morning drive time, being FAR more inflammatory to the right wing than an offhand remark on one episode of a show on premium cable, and the right never bothered to listen and never uttered a peep. But let him muse for ten seconds about something that probably goes on in many bedrooms around the country (incluing probably many Republican bedrooms), and the right goes nuts.
What's funny is that the right, often justifiably, has poked fun at the political correctness of the left. What you don't see in the video clip is Marc Maron explaining how he gave up talking about politics because of the humorlessness of the left, and how he'd say something and someone would say he didn't really get into the concerns about the transgender community. For decades the right has railed against political correctness, saying vile and hateful things about Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama and Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic high-profile women. But let a comedian make an offhand remark about a Republican woman, and they go nuts.
What Marc Maron does by digging into his own head is take us to places that most people don't want to go. He rips aside the curtain of American hypocrisy and pokes fun at it, and he does it without Jon Stewart's need to be nice. It's what all the great stand-up comics of the last half-century have done. It's what Carlin did, it's what Pryor did, it's what Lenny Bruce did. Maybe you've never had "hate sex". But you can bet your life that all the people on the right who are having the vapors today have. And if they haven't, they sure as hell want to.