Podcast Hour: WTF with Marc Maron

By James Dohnert , Updated May 25, 2013 04:53 PM EDT
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Lock the Gates. WTF with Marc Maron is the podcast that has transcended the art form. It took what was essentially an internet radio and made it something else. The show used the open nature of the web to create something that felt personal and emotional. Better than any talk show on TV, WTF is able to break down conversations to get to the heart of a guest interview.

It's not full of Leno-esque softball questions or Stern-like provocation. Instead, Maron attempts to relate to his guest because he is actually interested. Nothing comes off as trite on WTF. Everything feels, for lack of a better word, 'real'.

Maron himself comes to the show with a life full of missed opportunities and self-sabotage. The stand-up comedian went through a drug-addled youth, a lifetime of stand-up comedy and the anger that comes from what-could-have-been.

The show is fascinating because Maron is able to take his life experience to help fuel conversations. Many of WTF's best shows bring up the idea of 'trauma bonding'. The term, coined on the show, is essentially when two people bond over sad experiences. Maron is able to use the interview tactic to the greatest degree because his emotional openness gives guests the freedom to feel comfortable talking about their own experiences.

From episodes featuring Dane Cook to James Franco, WTF creates an atmosphere that is only possible on a podcast. The shows uninterrupted stream-of-consciousness dialogues could not work on terrestrial radio.

WTF is very much a definitive podcast. Its format has been adopted by other shows and its success even led Maron to get his own sitcom on IFC. Early this year, the podcast host debuted his every own show on the network called Maron. The show sees the podcast host adapt pieces of his internet chat show to a television series that revolves around his life.

The TV show makes a perfect bookend to the podcast. While the podcast hasn't ended, Maron's journey seems headed towards a happy ending. When the podcast started the comic was a bitter and angry man who has just come off a series of troubling times. Over the years the podcast grew and the listener could hear Maron moving past the traits that used to define the show. The podcast became less angry and more thoughtful. WTF evolved with its creator and became a public document of one person's very personal journey through depression, anger and bitterness. It's also quite funny. 

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