A comedian’s life is no laughing matter in this memoir of short chapters that examine the author’s source of material as a series of open wounds.
Rarely has an entertainer’s account of his life been so lacking in self-glorification. “There really is no business like show business,” he told a group of his peers as the keynote speaker for the 2011 Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. “Except maybe prostitution. There’s a bit of overlap there.” The speech provides the penultimate chapter of Maron’s first book and shows why he enjoyed the respect of so many better-known comedians even before he resurrected his career by shifting it from the comedy club to his garage with his popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron. In his introduction, he explains the development of the cyberseries, which appeared to be a last-ditch effortand which went viral through the host’s interviews with guests such as Conan O’Brien. Though he’d appeared on O’Brien’s show more than 40 times, he treats that exposure like an afterthought, as he explains the secret of success that O’Brien shared with him and which he now believes explains his own: “ ‘Get yourself in a situation where you have no choice.’ And that’s what I’m doing, because I had no choice. I was broke and broken and lost when I started WTF.” If such desperation pushed the comedian beyond his comfort level (presuming he had one), his book might do the same for readers, as Maron recounts his dysfunctional childhood, his two failed marriages (and his part in each split), his addictions, recovery and sobriety, and his ambivalence toward pornography (which he both likes a lot and really doesn’t). In that same speech, he says, “we comics are out there on the front lines of our sanity. We risk all sense of security and the possibility of living stable lives to do comedy.”
In a blood sport littered with casualties, this is an account of an unlikely survivor.