Marc Maron: The Addict's Comic

By May Wilkerson 06/19/12

The popular comedian and podcaster admits that he worships addicts—and some worship him back.

Some find Maron's podcast addictive.
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Humor stems from a dark place. And while addiction has taken down a number of legends, it's also provided fodder for many brilliant comics, some of whom do live to tell the tale—and to mine it for laughs. "My heroes were always drug addicts," says comedian Marc Maron in this video for CNN's Red Chair series (below). "It wasn't a sports guy. It was always the beatniks. Burroughs, Keith Richards, Lenny Bruce." Many people might add Maron's name to the list. In his popular podcast "WTF," launched in 2009, he interviews other comics, as well as actors, writers and musicians—many of whom air gritty details of their lives, often referencing addiction. Maron's own past and present struggles with addiction—to alcohol, drugs and food—are no secret to his listeners. He recalls hitting bottom in LA: "I realized between the sleeplessness and the coke, I was hearing voices in my head. I was sleeping in the closet. I was panicky on a kind of cosmic level."

Now sober for over a decade, Maron has spoken with such greats as Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Norm MacDonald, Craig Ferguson and the late Mike Destefano about their struggles with addiction, and recovery. But he insists his podcast isn't meant to be a therapy session—"it's just conversation, which human beings should thrive on." And many human beings do thrive on it, judging by the show's growing and loyal following. "I like hearing famous comedians talk openly about the uglier aspects of hitting their bottoms in regards to addiction. It makes them seem more relatable," says Maggie, a fan from Brooklyn. Max, also a recovering addict from New York, says "It's funny in that gut-wrenching way, because I can relate. And like so many addicts in recovery, I need to laugh. It's a necessary release."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.