Can an interview be art? If there were ever a case to be made for this proposition, I would present Marc Maron’s two-part, nearly two-hour interview with comedian Louis C.K. as Exhibit A.
To say Louis C.K. is one of the most brilliant stand-up comedians of all time is an understatement. Mainly because what Louis C.K. does goes beyond comedy. Louis C.K.’s routines and especially, his groundbreaking TV show “Louis,” go much deeper than mere laughs. Unlike most comedians who are deathly afraid of any moment that strays from comedy, if there’s a dramatically real moment that doesn’t contain a laugh, Louis C.K. lets the drama play out, sans laughter. Granted, comedy is the basis for a lot of this journey. But in the work of Louis C.K., it’s less about the laugh than getting to an emotional truth. Arguably, in this respect, he’s the one of the few comedians who has come close to equaling the brilliance of Richard Pryor.
A brilliant stand-up himself and a lifelong friend of Louis C.K.’s, Maron deeply explores the evolution of Louis C.K.’s comedy and art. Much of the interview is funny, but much of it is also dramatically compelling, especially towards the end, when Maron and Louis C.K. try to resolve the bad blood between them. It’s clear that they are lifelong friends who love each other deeply, but also have a great deal of hurt between them. If you have a dry eye by the end of this, you’re not human.
This interview has become legendary and it’s one of the most fascinating and entertaining looks at the interior life of an artist, guided by someone who obviously cares, respects, and appreciates how this artist developed over several years.
And, if you’re impressed by this interview, you absolutely need to check out Maron’s WTF podcast, widely considered one of the best podcasts of all time. I just discovered Maron through his terrific interview with Howard Stern earlier this week and I’ve spent the last few days catching up with his brilliant podcast. If you like what you hear on this interview, download this two part interview from iTunes. It does cost $3.98, but this is a bargain, considering it’s as good if not better than most movies I’ve seen in the last 10 years. I know I will listen to it for years to come.
I agree, it’s a great podcast episode. Much of his early WTF podcasts — even down to his intros — were phenomenal. He was so hungry to make the show work, but also I think he approached it like therapy, as if he wanted to expose other comic’s inner lives as a last-ditch effort to make sense of his own demons. Sadly, I’ve noticed when listening recently that the show has lost much of that early “oomph.” I mean, it has become a bit of a success for him, touring it around at festivals and whatnot. And he seems to have entered a comfort zone, which is not a good thing in Maron’s case — at least comedy-wise.