With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
So there’s this guy. A comedian I’ve followed since the mid 90’s. Since the Cam Neely Foundation benefit concert. That’s where I grew to love Marc Maron. As well as Denis Leary and Nick Di Paolo.
And Louis CK.
Back to Maron. He was always saying something honest. He was putting his feelings and his anxieties and insecurities out there in completely heartbreaking and often funny way.
You’ve got Richard Lewis. Who like Maron is Jewish, a recovering addict, and constantly worries and has minor anxiety attacks on stage. The thing with Richard Lewis is that it is funny. You don’t ever feel connected to him but he’s hilarious.
It’s harder for a comedian to be himself and hope that’s enough. Not try to be funny. Just be himself, with his thoughts and beliefs and observations and just wing it.
That’s Maron. He was a disciple of the late great Bill Hicks, a man who did not go for the laughs. He had something to say and he wanted to get through to truth and if you laughed, fine, but if you laughed and felt something inside, about yourself or your place in the world, even better.
Maron has been working that angle on a low-key Hicks scale for 25 years. And finally, more people than ever know who he is, due to his rather public admission of attempting suicide in his garage, the garage he now does his podcasts and from where he also shoots his IFC show MARON.
From my own lower self-esteem past I see the thinker, the empathic listener, a sensitive guy, a guy’s comedian, a guy’s thoughts, thoughts I have, my sensibilities, my insecurities, my thoughts. He makes me think I could share like that. His 25 plus years in stand-up is effortless, comfortable even when he looks like he is uncomfortable: see his stand-up concert Thinky Pain. He makes me think I could go on stage and share just like him.
He talks about guys in varsity jackets and how it triggers past fears of ridicule and emasculation. He immediately gets afraid this group of younger jocks will in some way humiliate him while knowing they don’t even “see” him. He’s not even on their radar. But still it doesn’t lessen the paranoia.
He talks about porn brain. If you cannot write or are tired of work and just say, ah, I’ll just go look at some porn briefly, fine. The problem is when you incorporate porn in your sex life so much you cannot discern fact from fiction. You’re in the bedroom, about to have sex and the scene reminds you of something, making you unable to reconnect with what is flesh and blood. Deleting cache history has just become the least of your porn troubles.
Or to love someone enough to make them cry. You are one of the fortunate few who have found someone to love. You share each other’s hearts. And one day they do something that annoys you. You know how to respond and boundary you do not cross. And then you think about that boundary and the trust they have placed in you not to cross it. What power! And you know if you do cross it, they will be devastated, because they made themselves vulnerable. What power! Fortunately, it is the love they gave that keeps you from crossing the boundary. Their trust is rewarded.
Maron delves into human nature and comes up with more questions than before.
Such thinking inspires me. For too long I’ve held myself back from doing the same.