Podcast Review:  Marc Maron’s WTF  
Leticia Flores
Stand-up comedian Marc Maron is often credited by his contemporaries as being one of the fathers of the "alt-comedy scene" that is prevalent today. Maron was on the scene when Seinfeld, Sam Kinison and John Stewart were just making their names. He never achieved the same kind of pop-star or even underground cult status as Seinfeld or Kinison for many reasons, including the fact that his standup style was more confessional, dark and cerebral than what you might typically find in your local Funny Bone or Improv comedy club. He bounced along in the 90's and early 00's, doing numerous stints on David Letterman and the first iteration of the Conan O'Brien show. Maron even co-hosted a radio show on the now-defunct liberal radio network Air America, where he was briefly able to showcase his sharp, insightful humor on issues that clearly mattered deeply to him. When Air America went bankrupt, Marc slowly faded from the greater public view.
A funny thing happened on the way to obsolescence. In 2009, Maron figured out how to make podcasts, and began interviewing his long-time comedian friends in his L.A. Garage. He named his show “WTF”, and you can guess what that stood for- it represented his general attitude of (often unpleasant) surprise towards his life and the lives around him, his country and the world at large. Since iTunes began offering his podcast for download, Maron’s hour-ish long conversations with comedians, comedic writers and actors have been audio revelations full of emotional honesty, personal reflection and often laugh-out-loud humor. Perhaps because he didn't think anyone was listening, Maron gave fully of himself, warts and all. And he manages to get his guests to give the same, which can be alternately touching (Louis C.K.), infuriating (Gallagher), and always funny (Amy Poehler).
What I like most about Maron’s podcasts is just how psychologically incisive and yet vulnerable he can be about himself (former addict, father with Bipolar disorder, etc) as well as with his guests.  He has obviously had a lot of (helpful) therapy, and you discover that most of his guests have as well.  And they’re happy to talk about it! The theme of how comedy is used to deal with or deflect emotional pain comes up frequently in the show, and it’s fascinating to hear how these artists have tried to sublimate their pain through caricature, sarcasm, and/or farce. Nothing is off limits on this podcast- everything from semiotics to Hollywood politics to bowel movements are discussed.  The F-bomb is thrown around as a regular adjective. Those who assume that this is a headier version of say, The Howard Stern Show, greatly underestimate how intellectually stimulating Maron’s interviews can be.
If you’re a comedy nerd, you’ll easily recognize many of the names on Maron’s podcast- Gary Shandling, David Cross and Zach Galifanakis all make a visit to Maron’s garage.  If you’re not THIS kind of nerd, I daresay that you’ll hear about many new and veteran artists that you’ll want to know more about. He has recently branched out and interviewed TV actors, which has been equally enjoyable. My favorite interviews to date have been with:
Judd Apatow (“Freaks & Geeks”, “Knocked Up”), who discusses his evolution from a teenage comedy nerd to a major comedy director
Louis C.K. (“Louie”), who discusses having children and his long-standing, often strained personal and professional relationship with Maron
John Hamm (“Mad Men”), who describes his early career and how he sees his character Don Draper as a reflection of the American post-war identity
Todd Hanson (co-creator of the comedy newspaper The Onion), who discusses his long history of depression and a recent time when he planned and attempted to commit suicide
Patrice O’Neal (one of the only Black stand-up comedians Maron has interviewed) who talks about racism and his difficult upbringing in Boston. 
There are so many more I can add, but you can just listen for yourself. I have become a bona fide “WTF” addict, and hope to find Maron a few more devotees with this review. I’ve even paid the extra money to become a “premier” subscriber, and I am a very stingy iPhone app purchaser.  If you have some time, click on this link: http://www.wtfpod.com and see what you think.  If you find yourself looking around once in a while and calling out “WTF?!” , Maron’s podcast may be just the response you need.