I’m a Comedian and Podcaster Marc Maron, and This Is How I Work

By any measure, the year for Marc Maron has been an outstanding one. The comedian spoke to President Obama on his podcast , his TV show on IFC has wrapped up its third season and has been renewed for another one, and will have a new stand-up premiere in just a few days. Should be good, right?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mark doesn’t calm down; he tells us that he is grateful, but work generates more work and there is no time to sit back and relax. A well-deserved success, his career in comedy and radio has spanned several decades of hard work. With that in mind, we spoke to Mark to find out a little about how he manages his many projects without burnout.

His new special edition , Marc Maron: More Later, will premiere on Friday December 4th at 10 / 9c on EPIX, EPIX.com and all EPIX Apps .

You’ve got a full year: the president went to your house to perform on a podcast , IFC has revamped your TV show , and you have this new special stand- up coming out . So I’m wondering – are you in a situation where you can sit down, put your feet on the table and just, you know, appreciate that you are doing well? Do you feel this way?

No, I think I need to work harder. I would like to put my feet on the table. I really don’t have much time to lean on the table, you know, when you do basically three jobs, in a sense, there isn’t much time. I am excited and grateful; I feel like I have done a lot of good work, but I continue to work.

I really need to figure out how to take a break, I need to figure this out.

If you could choose one word or phrase to describe how you work, what would it be?


Impulsively? So maybe it’s like a transition from one case to another without the obligatory grandiose scheme?

Right. I mean the context is there. I mean, a podcast is a podcast, a TV show is a TV show, and my booth is my booth, and all that stuff has to happen. So it’s kind of limited in terms of how impulsive I can be, but it seems like I approach them with the same spontaneous energy without doing crazy preparation. At least in the creative process. Once you start filming a TV show or perform at an hour and a half stand-up show, you have to put it all together. However, creating a podcast can be the most impulsive activity and it can stay the same.

And when you’re in control of it all, are you using certain apps, software, or calendars to figure out what you are doing? How do you keep track of all this?

I’m not very good at keeping track of things. I kind of walk from day to day and am always amazed at what I sometimes have to do, because it seems that I do not understand well what will happen and what will happen next. No big deal – it limits my fear – but you know, I have a manager who keeps me posted, and when we do a show, we have a schedule.

You know, I don’t use many applications, I just don’t use them. I use the Gmail calendar, and I use GarageBand for recording. And I’m on Twitter too much. But I don’t really manage my life with apps.

Are you the iPhone guy? Or do you have an Android?

Yeah, iPhone.

This probably means that you also use Apple computers since you mentioned GarageBand.

Yes, I use all Apple stuff. I have an Apple “Air-book-whatever”. And I have a computer that I use specifically for podcasts.

I wanted to ask about your workspace. I know you have a garage where you record; does it also function as your main center where you do all your work?

No, unfortunately, this is my dining table. I thought I had an office, I don’t know what’s going on with it. But usually this is the dining table.

You know, I kind of have a place in the garage – once I prepared a place for work, but I just didn’t have it – it didn’t really happen. I’m doing this show out there somewhere, but sitting, reading and working, I thought it had to happen out there, but it didn’t really happen.

Are there any other gadgets besides a phone and a computer that you really need? You must have some kind of mobile recording setup, right?

I usually use a Zoom H4N [digital voice recorder] with a couple of Shure Beta 58s lately. I used to use Blue Encore 200 mics, but now, for some reason, I’m using a Beta 58.

Have you ever had a time to let your mind wander? Or is he always constantly working on the next thing?

I mean my thoughts are wandering a lot. You don’t have to wander around nice places. You know, I kind of think out loud, and I can do it on podcasts, stand-ups and observations. But yes, my thoughts are wandering, even if it’s not always in the best direction.

When you’re working on more creative things – making up stories for a show or doing stand-up – do you find yourself making time for that, or is it more just … snatching moments out of thin air?

Well, I come up with stories for the show, no, I write everything down, and then we sit in a room with a bunch of guys and try to figure it out. When it comes to stand-up, a lot of it happens on stage, it’s all spinning in my head, and then I go on stage and try to work it out.

I also play the guitar, I like it.

Does it help you think? Or get distracted from thinking about other things?

Yes, for me this is a meditative process.

I was going to ask if you listen to music while you work, but most of your work involves talking and thinking about different things, so … I suppose playing to music helps you think about things.

Right. Yes, while I work, I don’t listen to a lot of music. I listen in the car. Well that’s not true, I have a lot of records here.

Does it help you recharge?

Like; it is calming. I like listening to music in the background if I’m just sitting around. This is sometimes annoying, depending on the circumstances. I’m going through the waves of it, you know?

Some busy or prolific people I talk to have crazy sleep schedules – what’s your cycle? Are you a night owl or get up early?

I’m not really an owl; I think I was before. I usually go to bed around midnight. I can no longer sleep – I get up quite early. Today I got up at 6:30, usually I get up between 6:30 and 7:30, just because. I like to spend a couple of hours in the morning just to collect my thoughts.

In what daily activities are you better than others? Is there something in everyday life that you go to?

No. I don’t know – I mean, I do live in a rather secluded area. There are not many people who need to contact me for something, except when I am in the writer’s room. But I make good coffee. And I’m pretty good at cooking, but I’m not really that guy.

Are you an avid coffee drinker? What is the way to brew coffee?

I’m not that intrusive. I kind of aligned – I’m using this [fill] cone. I have a coffee grinder and an espresso machine. And I use something like a cone, I count it to be a cone. But I grind per pot. Yes, it’s a process. I certainly don’t take coffee for granted.

But I think that’s a reasonable level of good coffee. Are you reading anything right now that you really enjoy? Books or novels?

I’m going to start a book by Clif Nesterov ” Comedians” . I read Cintra Wilson’s new book Fear and Clothes . She’s a genius. Both of them are genius writers of genius.

This is kind of a silly question to ask you , but I always ask people who they would like to talk to about their work habits, which are part of what you do all the time. But if you were going to talk to someone living or dead specifically about their job, who would you like to talk to?

Usually I know that people who get results, one way or another work. If you know what I mean? I know how most people work. I do not know to speak with anyone specifically about guidance in this matter. I’m not very good at managing time, so if you know someone who is kind of a magician in managing time – I think it’s because I usually work at my own pace and I don’t think about it a lot because that on any given day, I don’t need to deliver or punch the clock or whatever. I think I could manage my time more effectively if I thought about it differently. But usually I do a lot of things.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? What advice did the people who got stuck give you?

I think about the stories [people have told me] that resonated with me, how I think about things differently. But I’m not sure anyone necessarily gave me advice other than a few dumb recovery slogans that sometimes help me think things clearly and stay in the present. I really think that whoever told me to shut up and listen – maybe they were my parents – took me a long time to figure it out. I think this is generally the best advice.

What advice would you give to people who respect you for what you’ve done in podcasting and comedy if they’re aspiring to something like this?

Lower your expectations, do your best, and see what happens.

And shut up and listen. Is there anything else you could say to our readers and your fans?

Make sure you have the time to really really connect with other people and take the risk of letting yourself be seen emotionally so you don’t end up completely isolated in your own little world – whatever it is – no matter how many applications It was.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.


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